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General Mills, Inc. (GIS), Cablevision Systems Corporation (CVC) & More: Billionaire Mario Gabelli’s +3% Yielders

Several weeks after the end of each quarter, major investors are required to disclose many of their long equity positions in U.S. stocks in 13F filings. We track these filings for a variety of purposes, including to help us develop investing strategies (we have found, for example, that the most popular small cap stocks among hedge funds outperform the S&P 500 by an average of 18 percentage points per year). We can also see top picks from individual managers in a number of areas, including dividend stocks, so that investors can take a brief look decide whether or not it a company is worthy of further research. Here are five stocks from billionaire Mario Gabelli’s GAMCO Investors as of the end of December (many of its positions showed little change over Q4) with dividend yields of 3% or higher based on current prices and dividend levels (or see the full list of stocks that GAMCO reported owning).

The fund reported a position of 5 million shares in Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. (REIT) (NYSE:RHP), a real estate investment trust which operates resort and convention center facilities under the Gaylord brand as well as several local Nashville attractions. REITs receive preferential tax status as long as they distribute a large share of their taxable income to shareholders, which often results in high dividend yields; Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. (REIT) (NYSE:RHP) pays a dividend yield of 4.4%. Billionaire John Paulson’s Paulson & Co. increased the size of its position in Ryman during the fourth quarter of 2012 to a total of 4.3 million shares (check out Paulson’s stock picks).

Mario GabelliGabelli and his team disclosed ownership of 9.7 million shares of Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE:CVC) at the end of 2012. The $3.8 billion market cap company, which operates a TV/data/voice business as well as a number of media properties, pays a dividend yield of 4%. However, the stock trades at 16 times trailing earnings and- while net income did grow in percentage terms in its most recent quarter compared to the same period in the previous year, revenue was down slightly. Analysts expect net income to decline over the next couple years. Billionaire David Shaw’s D.E. Shaw cut its stake but still owned 1.7 million shares according to its own 13F.

General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS) was another of Gabelli’s stock picks with the filing showing 2.9 million shares in his portfolio. General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS) stands out for having essentially no relationship with the broader economy; the stock’s beta is 0.03. There is also a decent dividend yield (3.1%), making it a good defensive pick. Of course, the flipside to the company’s stability is that we’d expect earnings growth to be low going forward, and given that fact the trailing P/E of 18 might be a bit high. Ric Dillon’s Diamond Hill Capital owned 3.7 million shares of General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS) at the end of 2012 (find Dillon’s favorite stocks).

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