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How to Maximize Your Retirement Portfolio with These Top-Ranked Dividend Stocks - December 06, 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.

Retirement investing approaches of the past don't work today.

In the past, investors going into retirement could invest in bonds and count on attractive yields to produce steady, reliable income streams to fund a predictable retirement. 10-year Treasury bond rates in the late 1990s hovered around 6.50%, whereas at the time of this article, the current rate is under 2% and looks to stay low thanks to an accommodative Fed.

The effect of this drop in rates is substantial: over 20 years, the change in yield for a $1 million investment in 10-year Treasuries is over $1 million.

Today's retirees are getting hit hard by reduced bond yields - and the Social Security picture isn't too rosy either. Right now and for the near future, Social Security benefits are still being paid, but it has been estimated that the Social Security funds will be depleted as soon as 2035.

Unfortunately, it looks like the two traditional sources of retirement income - bonds and Social Security - may not be able to adequately meet the needs of present and future retirees. But what if there was another option that could provide a steady, reliable source of income in retirement?

Invest in Dividend Stocks

As we see it, dividend-paying stocks from generally low-risk, top notch companies are a brilliant way to create steady and solid income streams to supplant current low risk, low yielding Treasury and fixed-income alternatives.

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.

A rule of thumb for finding solid income-producing stocks is to seek those that average 3% dividend yield, and positive yearly dividend growth. These stocks can help combat inflation by boosting dividends over time.

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

Regions Financial (RF) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.16 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.72%. This compares to the Banks - Southeast industry's yield of 1.8% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.83%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.62 is up 10.71% from last year.

Sandy Spring Bancorp (SASR) is paying out a dividend of 0.3 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.41% compared to the Banks - Northeast industry's yield of 1.78% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.2 is up 7.14% from last year.

Currently paying a dividend of 0.85 per share, SL Green (SLG) has a dividend yield of 3.96%. This is compared to the REIT and Equity Trust - Other industry's yield of 4.09% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $3.4 is up 4.62% from last year.

But aren't stocks generally more risky than bonds?

Yes, that's true. As a broad category, bonds carry less risk than stocks. However, the stocks we are talking about - dividend -paying stocks from high-quality companies - can generate income over time and also mitigate the overall volatility of your portfolio compared to the stock market as a whole.

A silver lining to owning dividend stocks for your retirement portfolio is that many companies, especially blue chip stocks, increase their dividends over time, helping offset the effects of inflation on your potential retirement income.

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

If you prefer investing in funds or ETFs compared to individual stocks, you can still pursue a dividend income strategy. However, it's important to know the fees charged by each fund or ETF, which can ultimately reduce your dividend income, working against your strategy. Do your homework and make sure you know the fees charged by any fund before you invest.

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
 
Regions Financial Corporation (RF) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Sandy Spring Bancorp, Inc. (SASR) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
SL Green Realty Corporation (SLG) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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