American Capital Agency Corp. (AGNC), Pitney Bowes Inc. (PBI), and the Twenty-Five Highest Dividend Paying Stocks in April

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Dividend investing is popular again. Investors have taken to heart Jeremy Siegel’s studies, which show that higher-paying stocks tend to offer greater returns over time than low- or no-yield stocks.

American Capital Agency Corp. (NASDAQ:AGNC)

The highest-paying dividend stocks can be very tantalizing. As long as a stock yielding 15% doesn’t lose value, you’ll make 15% in one year! In more cases than not, however, an astronomical yield is a bad sign for a stock. Since dividend yields and stock prices move in opposite directions, a high yield usually means investors have begun to worry about the business and driven down its stock price.

However, certain types of companies, such as REITs have to pay out most of their income as dividends, so their yields will be higher than “normal.” But dividends aren’t guaranteed; you need to make sure a business is generating enough cash to pay its dividend, or your investment could be disastrous.

I ran a screen for the highest-paying dividend stocks. The only limitation I’ve set this time is that the stocks must have a market cap greater than $400 million and must be a corporation, so no REITs or MLPs. I’ve also excluded stocks for which a special dividend heavily influenced the yield.

Here are the top 25 highest-yielding stocks the screen produced:

Rank Company Name Market Cap (Millions) Dividend Yield (%)
1 Arlington Asset Investment Corp (NYSE:AI) $408 13.70%
2 Windstream Corporation (NASDAQ:WIN) $4,872 12.20%
3 Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE:PBI) $2,917 10.40%
4 Vector Group $1,443 10.00%
5 Frontier Communications $4,103 10.00%
6 SeaDrill $16,715 9.85%
7 Compass Diversified $778 9.16%
8 Ship Finance International $1,455 9.00%
9 Consolidated Communications $701 8.91%
10 R.R. Donnelley & Sons $2,112 8.85%
11 National Presto Industries $539 8.32%
12 PDL BioPharma $1,025 8.24%
13 First Financial Bancorp $903 7.85%
14 Werner Enterprises $1,701 7.39%
15 New York Community Bancorp $5,993 7.33%
16 Costamare $1,164 6.95%
17 Capitol Federal Financial $1,815 6.89%
18 VimpelCom $18,702 6.73%
19 Valley National Bancorp $1,929 6.70%
20 Nordic American Tankers Limited $531 6.63%
21 United Online $561 6.59%
22 Mercury General $2,095 6.48%
23 Giant Interactive Group $1,617 6.31%
24 CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE:CTL) $22,542 6.16%
25 Exelon $29,705 6.09%

Source: S&P CapitalIQ.

These stocks are a good place to start your research, but they’re not formal recommendations.

Let’s take a look at the top three.

Arlington Asset Investment has a trailing yield of 13.70%. The company invests in mortgage-backed securities, or MBSes, and follows a strategy similar to American Capital Agency Corp. (NASDAQ:AGNC). Arlington Asset has 60% of its Agency MBS portfolio in MBSes originated under the Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP. These are preferable to other MBSes, as they’ve already been refinanced and thus have a lower chance of prepayments and further refinancing. American Capital Agency has 77% of its portfolio invested in MBSes originated under HARP. There’s one key difference, though, between the two: Arlington Asset is not a REIT.

Before the company’s spinoff from FBR in 2009, the company was a REIT but then decided to revoke the REIT status to take advantage of operating and capital losses. As of Dec. 31, the company had $230 million of net operating loss carry-forwards and $285 million of capital loss carry-forwards. The company can charge net income and capital gains against these and thus not owe any taxes. Arlington recently did a 3.45 million-share offering, the proceeds of which the company intends to use for buying more MBSes. With a low forward P/E of 6.5, Arlington Asset looks undervalued, though that could stem from the company’s small size, as well a restriction prohibiting investors from taking more than a 4.9% stake in the company, so as to protect its net operating losses and net capital losses.

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