U.S. News & World Report Recommendations: Here's My Take

In a recent article U.S. News and World Report recommended 11 stocks that pay "great" dividends.

Here's my take. The whole purpose of this exercise is to illustrate that while a lot of people are making recommendations, only you can do the research and exercise due diligence before investing your own money. My recommendation if you're looking for yield is to search for an ETF that offers decent yield, and can spread the risk among dozens of companies. While you might get a little less yield, you get less risk.

Altria Group (MO)
Current Yield: 6.7%
Besides investing in cigarette brands, its PE is twice the sector average, earning are not growing and its dividend payout ratio is high. Sales and earnings growth is anemic. I would avoid.

Macherich Co. (MAC)
Current Yield: 11%
This is a REIT that invests in malls. That for me says no. There are better REITS out there.

Macy's (M)
Current Yield: 9.9%
At one time, Barron's recommended Macy's when it sold for $35 per share. It now sells for $15. The company has no sales or earnings growth, so there is a reason for the high yield. Unless you want to take the risk of a turn around play, I'd avoid this stock.

Helmerich & Payne (HP)
Current Yield: 7.4%
This is an energy firm that provides drilling rigs to larger firms. The rig count is down about 20% over the last couple of years, so I don't see a lot of growth. Why am I worried about growth? Without growth, dividends can't keep up. While I'd do more research, I do have some energy in my portfolio, but mostly pipelines and delivery companies. Tread with caution.

Williams Companies (WMB)
Current Yield: 6.9%
Another energy company, but one that operates natural gas and oil services in the processing and transportation area. This might be a good contrarian play, but their payout ratio is over 100%, so there is risk here.

Iron Mountain (IRM)
Current Yield: 7.6%
This company started out as a document storage company and has moved into information management and security. It stock price is fairly stable and it has been growing dividends. Probably one of the magazine's better recommendations.

L Brands (LB)
Current Yield: 6.7%
A specialty retailer, which includes Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, White Barn and others. Probably a better play in the retail sector, with a low payout ratio. I still am leery of the retail space, but this might be a good investment if you are knowledgeable about retail.

Invesco Ltd. (IVZ)
Current Yield: 7.5%
This firm offers ETFs. Its share price is down about 50%. A turnaround play? Why not check out their ETFs instead.

CenturyLink (CTL)
Current Yield: 7.1%
A telecom company who has been growing through acquisitions, so the company has a lot of debt. If you're interested in telecom, you might check out AT&T, Disney, or Verizon. These have lower dividends yields but might be better choices.

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