When Wall Street gives investors lemons, they wisely make lemonade. One of the best ways to “make lemonade” during a bear market is by purchasing dividend stocks.
Companies that regularly offer payouts to their shareholders are almost always profitable on a recurring basis and time-tested. In other words, these businesses have demonstrated to Wall Street that they can successfully navigate an economic or market-based downturn.
Income stocks also have history on their side. According to a study released 10 years ago by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, a division of banking giant JPMorgan Chase, publicly traded companies that initiated and grew their payouts delivered an annualized return of 9.5% between 1972 and 2012. Meanwhile, publicly traded companies with no dividend averaged a measly 1.6% annualized return over the comparable 40-year period.
The biggest challenge for income investors is simply balancing risk and reward. While a high yield can be tempting, quite a few high-yield stocks are troubled businesses or yield traps.
Thankfully, this isn’t always the case. If you want sustainable high-yield income, there are stocks that can provide it.
In fact, some income stocks pay you, without fail, every single month. If you want $300 in monthly dividend income, all you need to do is invest $30,000 (split equally, three ways) in the following ultra-high-yield stock trio averaging a 12.06% yield.
AGNC Investment: 13.65% yield
The first monthly dividend payer that can deliver for income seekers is mortgage real estate investment trust (REIT) AGNC Investment (AGNC 1.52%). Although AGNC’s nearly 13.7% yield is high, a double-digit yield has been the norm since it became a public company. AGNC has offered a yield averaging 10% or higher in 13 of the past 14 years.
The mortgage REIT operating model is pretty easy to understand, even if the products they purchase can be somewhat complicated. Mortgage REITs like AGNC borrow capital at the lowest possible short-term lending rate and use this money to purchase assets with higher long-term yields, such as mortgage-backed securities (MBS). It means Federal Reserve monetary policy and the yield curve can tell investors everything they need to know about the state of the mortgage REIT industry.
In 2022, mortgage REITs arguably had their worst year in history. Rapidly rising interest rates sent short-term borrowing costs shooting higher, which gave AGNC and its peers little chance to adjust their portfolios. As a result, AGNC’s book value and net interest margin — the company’s average yield on assets owned minus its average borrowing rate — declined significantly.
However, bad years for the mortgage REIT industry have historically opened the door to “favorable investment environments,” according to CEO Peter Federico. As we near peak interest rates for this rate-hiking cycle, interest rate volatility should decrease, allowing AGNC to position itself to grow its net interest margin.
To build on this point, AGNC is already benefiting from a substantial uptick in the yields of the MBSs it’s continuing to purchase. While higher short-term borrowing costs are weighing down its net interest margin at present, this steady shift to fixed-rate, 30-year MBSs at higher yields will eventually widen the company’s net interest margin and (likely) lift its book value.
Something else investors should note about AGNC is that $58.1 billion of its $59.5 billion investment portfolio is tied up in agency securities (mostly agency MBSs). “Agency” assets are backed by the federal government in the event of a default. This protection allows AGNC to deploy leverage to increase its profit potential. This is a big reason AGNC’s high yield is sustainable.
PennantPark Floating Rate Capital: 11.08% yield
A second ultra-high-yield dividend stock that can help you collect $300 in monthly dividend income is business development company (BDC) PennantPark Floating Rate Capital (PFLT 1.66%). PennantPark recently raised its monthly payout to $0.10/share after doling out $0.095/share each month for over seven years.
A BDC is a business that invests in either the common equity, preferred stock, and/or debt of middle-market companies (i.e., those with market caps of $2 billion or below). In PennantPark’s case, the lion’s share of its $1.15 billion investment portfolio comprises debt investments in these middle-market businesses.
Focusing on debt investments, as opposed to common or preferred stock, comes with a host of advantages.
For example, middle-market companies are typically unproven and, therefore, have limited access to debt and credit markets. This limited access allows PennantPark Floating Rate Capital to net favorable yields on its financing. The company’s debt investments had a weighted average yield of 11.3% as of the end of 2022.
Another huge reason PennantPark will outperform in this environment is the composition of its debt investment portfolio. All $998.3 million in debt investments are variable-rate loans. With the Federal Reserve focused on taming historically high inflation, every rate hike translates into more net interest income for PennantPark. Over the past five quarters, its weighted average yield on debt investments has jumped from 7.4% to the aforementioned 11.3%.
The company’s management team also invested all but $0.1 million of its debt investments in first-lien secured debt. In the event that one of the companies PennantPark invests in seeks bankruptcy protection, first-lien secured debtholders are at the front of the line for repayment. Sticking with first-lien secured debt and spreading its $1.15 billion in total investments (including common and preferred stock) across 126 companies ensures that no single investment can tank its portfolio.
Horizon Technology Finance: 11.44% yield
The third ultra-high-yield dividend stock that can assist you in generating $300 in monthly dividend income with an initial investment of $30,000 (split three ways) is Horizon Technology Finance (HRZN -0.61%). Horizon’s yield has hovered around 10% for much of the past decade.
Similar to PennantPark, Horizon is a BDC primarily concentrated on debt investments in privately held middle-market companies. The difference — as Horizon’s full company name gives away — is that it’s focused on businesses in the technology, life sciences, and renewable energy space that offer high-growth potential.
The majority of businesses Horizon Technology Finance provides financing for are in the developmental stage. Since these are unproven operating models, Horizon can command financing rates well above average. The company’s annual portfolio yield on its $686.5 million in debt investments (at fair value) was a cool 14.4% as of the end of December.
You might think investing in developmental-stage businesses is a good way for Horizon Technology Finance to lose a significant portion of its principal, but this hasn’t been the case. Thanks to plenty of vetting on management’s part, 95% of its debt investment portfolio is considered high credit quality or exhibits standard levels of risk. Although this percentage has, indeed, dropped a tad with the nation’s central bank increasing interest rates at the fastest pace in 40 years, Horizon’s debt investment portfolio is remarkably well diversified (60 debt investments covering its $686.5 million debt portfolio) for its size and shows no signs of trouble.
It’s also worth mentioning that Horizon Technology Finance has leaned on variable-rate financing. As with PennantPark, higher interest rates are increasing the net interest income it receives on most of its outstanding debt investments.
With ample liquidity on hand and the company’s stock hovering right around its net asset value per share, Horizon Technology Finance has the tools to be a genuine ATM for dividend investors.