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How to Maximize Your Retirement Portfolio with These Top-Ranked Dividend Stocks - December 24, 2019

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

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.

The tried - and - true retirement investing approach of yesterday doesn'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.

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

Darden Restaurants (DRI - Free Report) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.88 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.24%. This compares to the Retail - Restaurants industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.79%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $3.52 is up 17.33% from last year.

Exelon (EXC - Free Report) is paying out a dividend of 0.36 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.21% compared to the Utility - Electric Power industry's yield of 2.82% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.45 is up 5.07% from last year.

Currently paying a dividend of 0.27 per share, Federated Investors has a dividend yield of 3.29%. This is compared to the Financial - Investment Management industry's yield of 2.29% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.08 is flat compared to last year.

But aren't stocks generally more risky than bonds?

It is true that stocks, as an asset class, carry more risk than bonds, but high-quality dividend stocks not only have the ability to produce income growth over time but more importantly, can also reduce your overall portfolio volatility relative 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 thinking, "I want to invest in a dividend-focused ETF or mutual fund," make sure to do your homework. It's important to know that some mutual funds and specialized ETFs charge high fees, which may diminish your dividend gains or income and thwart the overall objective of this investment strategy. If you do want to invest in fund, research well to identify the best-quality dividend funds with the least charges.

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


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Darden Restaurants, Inc. (DRI) - free report >>

Exelon Corporation (EXC) - free report >>

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