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3 Top Dividend Stocks to Maximize Your Retirement Income - October 07, 2020

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Strange but true: seniors fear death less than running out of money in retirement.

Also, retirees who have constructed a nest egg have valid justifications to be concerned, since the traditional ways to plan for retirement may mean income can no longer cover expenses. Some retirees are now tapping their principal to make a decent living, pressed for time between decreasing investment balances and longer life expectancies.

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

For many years, bonds or other fixed-income assets could produce the yield needed to provide solid income for retirement needs. However, these yields have dwindled over time: 10-year Treasury bond rates in the late 1990s were around 6.50%, but today, that rate is a thing of the past, with a slim likelihood of rates making a comeback in the foreseeable future.

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

In addition to the considerable drop in bond yields, today's retirees are nervous about their future Social Security benefits. Because of certain demographic factors, it's been estimated that the funds that pay the Social Security benefits will run out of money in 2035.

How can you avoid dipping into your principal when the investments you counted on in retirement aren't producing income? You can only cut your expenses so far, and the only other option is to find a different investment vehicle to generate income.

Invest in Dividend Stocks

As a replacement for low yielding Treasury bonds (and other bond options), we believe dividend-paying stocks from high quality companies offer low risk and stable, predictable income investors in retirement seek.

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 approach to recognizing appropriate stocks is to look for companies with an average dividend yield of 3% and positive average annual dividend growth. Numerous stocks hike dividends over time, counterbalancing inflation risks.

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

AES (AES - Free Report) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.14 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.07%. This compares to the Utility - Electric Power industry's yield of 3.39% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.65%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.57 is up 4.98% from last year.

Highwoods Properties (HIW - Free Report) is paying out a dividend of 0.48 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 5.41% compared to the REIT and Equity Trust - Other industry's yield of 3.83% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.92 is up 1.05% from last year.

Currently paying a dividend of 0.21 per share, MDU Resources (MDU - Free Report) has a dividend yield of 3.6%. This is compared to the Utility - Gas Distribution industry's yield of 3.56% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.83 is up 2.47% 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.

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.

You may be thinking, "I like this dividend strategy, but instead of investing in individual stocks, I'm going to find a dividend-focused mutual fund or ETF." This approach can make sense, but be aware that some mutual funds and specialized ETFs carry high fees, which may reduce your dividend gains or income, and defeat the goal of this dividend investment approach. If you do wish to invest in a fund, do your research to find the best-quality dividend funds with the lowest fees.

Bottom Line

Whether you select high-quality, low-fee funds or stocks, seeking the steady income of dividend-paying equities can potentially offer you a path to a better and more stress-free 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


In-Depth Zacks Research for the Tickers Above


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The AES Corporation (AES) - free report >>

Highwoods Properties, Inc. (HIW) - free report >>

MDU Resources Group, Inc. (MDU) - free report >>

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