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Improve Your Retirement Income with These 3 Top-Ranked Dividend Stocks - December 12, 2019

Zacks Equity Research

Believe it or not, seniors fear running out of cash more than they fear dying.

And retirees have good reason to be worried about making their assets last. People are living longer, so that money has to cover a longer period. Making matters worse, income generated using tried - and - true retirement planning approaches may not cover expenses these days. That means seniors must dip into principal to meet living expenses.

In today's economic environment, traditional income investments are not working.

For example, 10-year Treasury bonds in the late 1990s offered a yield of around 6.50%, which translated to an income source you could count on. However, today's yield is much lower - currently under 2% and probably not a viable return option to fund typical retirements.

That means if you had $1 million in 10-year Treasuries, the difference in yield between 1999 and today is more than $1 million.

And lower bond yields aren't the only potential problem seniors are facing. Today's retirees aren't feeling as secure as they once did about Social Security, either. Benefit checks will still be coming for the foreseeable future, but based on current estimates, Social Security funds will run out of money in 2035.

So what's a retiree to do? You could cut your expenses to the bone, and take the risk that your Social Security checks don't shrink. Or you could find an alternative investment that provides a steady, higher-rate income stream to replace dwindling bond yields.

Invest in Dividend Stocks

Dividend-paying stocks from low-risk, high-quality companies are a smart way to generate steady and reliable attractive income streams to replace current low risk, low yielding Treasury and bond options.

For example, AT&T and Coca-Cola are income stocks with attractive dividend yields of 3% or better. Look for stocks like this that have paid steady, increasing dividends for years (or decades), and have not cut their dividends even during recessions.

One way to identify suitable candidates is to look for stocks with an average dividend yield of 3%, and positive average annual dividend growth. Many stocks increase dividends over time, helping to offset the effects of inflation.

Here are three dividend-paying stocks retirees should consider for their nest egg portfolio.

Darden Restaurants (DRI) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.88 per share, with a dividend yield of 3%. This compares to the Retail - Restaurants industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.82%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $3.52 is up 17.33% from last year.

Legg Mason (LM) is paying out a dividend of 0.4 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 4.4% compared to the Financial - Investment Management industry's yield of 2.33% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.6 is up 17.65% from last year.

Currently paying a dividend of 7.59 per share, NetEase (NTES) has a dividend yield of 5.33%. This is compared to the Internet - Software and Services industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $16.55 is up 70.78% from last year.

But aren't stocks generally more risky than bonds?

The fact is that stocks, as an asset class, carry more risk than bonds. To counterbalance this, invest in superior quality dividend stocks that not only can grow over time but more significantly, can also decrease your overall portfolio volatility with respect to the broader stock market.

An upside to adding dividend stocks to your retirement portfolio: they can help lessen the effects of inflation, since many dividend-paying companies (especially blue chip stocks) generally increase their dividends over time.

Thinking about dividend-focused mutual funds or ETFs? Watch out for fees.

If you're interested in investing in dividends, but are thinking about mutual funds or ETFs rather than stocks, beware of fees. Mutual funds and specialized ETFs may carry high fees, which could lower the overall gains you earn from dividends, undercutting your dividend income strategy. Be sure to look for funds with low fees if you decide on this approach.

Bottom Line

Pursuing a dividend investing strategy can help protect your retirement portfolio. Whether you choose to invest in stocks or through low-fee mutual funds or ETFs, this approach can potentially help you achieve a more secure and enjoyable retirement.

Generating income is just one aspect of planning for a comfortable retirement.

To learn more ways to maximize your assets - and avoid pitfalls that could jeopardize your financial security - download our free report:

Will You Retire a Multi-Millionaire? 7 Things You Can Do Now


This helpful guide offers our viewpoints about strategic retirement investment planning, based on decades of experience helping our clients prepare for financial security during their golden years. Get Your FREE Guide Now
 
Darden Restaurants, Inc. (DRI) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
NetEase, Inc. (NTES) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Legg Mason, Inc. (LM) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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