Best High Dividend Paying Stocks

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Contributor, Benzinga
May 19, 2024

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Dividend-paying stocks have long been a part of investment portfolios geared toward providing income instead of long-term capital appreciation. But since companies that pay big dividends are often older, more established firms, they fail to garner the same attention as the latest high-flying growth stocks. 

Stocks that pay dividends are still a crucial part of any investment strategy, especially if you’re looking for consistent income. While the price appreciation might lag behind the broader market, dividend-paying firms have established profits and are usually safer investments than risky growth stocks. Still, a healthy dividend isn’t a golden ticket to wealth and investors must pay close attention to the underlying numbers of the business. A big dividend combined with poor cash flow or large debt loads could end up as a very poor investment.

Highest Dividend Stocks Right Now

Stock Movers


TickerCompany±%Buy Stock
BRBSBlue Ridge Bankshares$3.055.17%93.9KBuy/Sell
ARIApollo Comml Real Est$10.472.14%840.8KBuy/Sell
CFFNCapitol Federal Finl$5.271.54%875.8KBuy/Sell
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CIVICivitas Resources$74.410.6%1.5MBuy/Sell
REFIChicago Atlantic Real$15.690.6%96.8KBuy/Sell
NYCBNew York Community$3.690.4%31MBuy/Sell
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TickerCompany±%Buy Stock
BGFVBig 5 Sporting Goods$3.31-3.5%405.3KBuy/Sell
INSWInternational Seaways$63.21-0.46%563.9KBuy/Sell
IRMIron Mountain$81.78-0.27%1.5MBuy/Sell
ORealty Income$55.12-0.14%6MBuy/Sell
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Session: May 16, 2024 4:00PM EDT - May 17, 2024 3:59PM EDT

An Overview of Dividend Paying Stocks

When a company makes a profit, it doesn’t just sit in the pockets of the CEO. When profits are announced, the company board has to decide what to do with the extra cash. Many companies reinvest the money into research or development to continue growing the firm, but some companies aren’t concerned with expansion or entering new markets.

When a company doesn’t have an internal use for its leftover profits, it will return those profits to shareholders in the form of a dividend. Most dividend-paying firms disperse dividend payments each quarter and you need to own the stock by the “ex-dividend date” to make yourself eligible for the payment.

Dividend calculations take in a number of factors, such as:

  • Sales growth projections
  • Plans for expansion
  • Average dividend yield in the sector
  • Debt levels
  • Current and future cash flow

Be cautious of companies offering dividends that seem too good to be true. A stock with a 10% dividend might have just endured a steep price decline that makes the dividend yield look more attractive. Kinder Morgan is a popular example: At one time, the firm piled on too much debt and the pipeline company was forced to slash its dividend by 75%. The stock was crushed as a result, and the company became a “cautionary tale” for others because a loss of dividend yield led to a dearth of investment activity. As a shareholder, you owe it to yourself to know these stories, seek out the highest dividend payment possible and zero in on a share price that fits into your budget.

How can you be sure that you’re investing in the right stocks? You want to differentiate between ordinary dividends and qualified dividends. Ordinary dividends are taxed at the income level while qualified dividends are taxed at the capital gains level. For your dividends to be considered qualified dividends, you must hold the shares for at least 60 days. If you’ve held the shares for less than 60 days, you’ll receive the same dividend, but it will be taxed as income. 

You also need to spend some time researching how the business got to where it is. As mentioned above, you want to weigh the dividends paid or promised against the state of the company. There are certain companies that are safe to invest in and stay with because their dividends are “true”, but others may seem a little shady, especially if the yield seems like it’s too good to be true. Yes, you might profit just one time, but that asset may not be able to maintain its dividend payout ratio.

At the same time, you cannot assume that dividends will go on forever and ever. Even the best companies that you have researched to the nth degree are not perfect. There may come a time when a company stops paying dividends on its stock for one reason or another—and it’s not personal. They’ll just stop paying dividends because there isn’t any free cash flow for such a thing, meaning that those retained earnings are gone. Yes, the business retained some revenue and it may come back to dividends in the future, but there’s no guarantee.

For example, that company could be bought out and taken private. Yes, you’ll get paid for your holdings, but that long-term dividend is gone. Now you need to decide what to do with those funds and potentially uncover another firm that can offer the same sort of “regular” income. This is a key to investment management that points to the future, helps you plan for retirement and even create a dividend reinvestment plan. This is one of the simpler ways to generate passive income and can become part of your individual retirement account.

Best Online Brokers for Dividend-Paying Stocks

Dividend-paying stocks aren’t difficult to find since they often have long histories and popular stories. Since dividend-paying stocks are meant for long-term investing instead of short-term trading, finding a commission-free broker isn’t as crucial since you won’t be racking up transaction costs. 

Still, if you can avoid the temptation to overtrade, a commission-free discount broker is suitable for both investors with long time horizons and investors looking to day or swing trade.

Features to Look for in Dividend Paying Stocks

Here are the most important things to look for before investing in high dividend stocks.

Manageable Debt Load

As with companies like Kinder Morgan, an unsustainable debt load could spell the end of a generous dividend. If a company is overleveraged and forced to service debts, the dividend is often the first thing on the chopping block.

Dividend Payout Growth

Since stock prices can fluctuate wildly, paying attention to the dividend yield doesn’t give us as much information as the actual payout amount. Keep a close eye on the growth of the dividend payment itself; if a company has a long history of increasing dividend payouts (10-20 years), it’s probably a good bet that it will continue to increase.

Enough Cash Flow to Keep Paying Dividends

This is perhaps the most important feature of any stock, let alone a dividend payer. Cash flow is king and without it, no company would be able to continue to pay its dividend. If a company you’re looking at has consistent cash flow concerns, it could mean the dividend is in trouble of being chopped.

Analyst Ratings

Analyst ratings can give you an idea of when or if dividends will continue. While analysts are not necessarily in the business of determining the value of your next dividend, they are researching the company closely enough that they have a decent idea of whether dividends will continue or not.

Dividends Provide Steady Income

Dividend-paying stocks are a great addition to portfolios because they’re often less risky than growth stocks. If you’re an investor approaching the end of your time horizon, dividend-paying stocks can provide steady income AND longer-term stock price appreciation.

But dividends aren’t free and tax implications exist for different types of payouts. Qualified dividends get special tax treatment like capital gains, but ordinary dividends are taxed at the income level. If you’re receiving ordinary dividends, a tax-sheltered account like a Roth IRA is the best vehicle.

Be sure to discuss taxes with an advisor before putting dividend-paying stocks into an investment account. Understand that dividend stocks aren’t going to make big headlines or double in price in just 6 months. If you want to buy dividend-paying stocks, you’ll need to hold them long enough to benefit from the consistent dividend payout increases. 

Frequently Asked Questions


What are dividend paying stocks?


Dividend paying stocks are stocks that pay regular dividends to their holders.


Why invest in dividend paying stocks?


Dividend paying stocks provide reoccuring income in the form of dividends.


What are good dividend paying stocks?


See Benzinga’s list of the best dividend paying stocks on the list above.


About Dan Schmidt

Dan Schmidt is a finance writer passionate about helping readers understand how assets and markets work. He has over six years of writing experience, focused on stocks. His work has been published by Vanguard, Capital One, PenFed Credit Union, MarketBeat, and Fora Financial. Dan lives in Bucks County, PA with his wife and enjoys summers at Citizens Bank Park cheering on the Phillies.