We’ll talk about dividend stocks, but we’ll get there through tax policy. The connection is simple: Government spending is going up, as exemplified by the $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus bill passed this month. Stimulative cash infusions into the economy are likely to boost consumer spending, and there are worries that the Biden Administration has no plans to pay for its increased spending. Several tax proposals made into the Democratic Party discourse in last year’s election, and President Biden was elected on at least an implicit promise to raise taxes on wealthier taxpayers. Should the progressive Democrats push these proposals into law, it could potentially make an immediate, and likely negative, impact on the stock markets. And that brings us to dividend stocks. These traditionally defensive investments offer investors a ready income stream through the dividend payments, no matter how the market moves. The key factor is the yield, or the return rate of the dividend. Wall Street’s analysts have been doing some of the footwork for us, pinpointing dividend-paying stocks that have kept up high yields, at least 8% to be exact. Opening up the TipRanks database, we examine the details behind three such stocks to find out what else makes them compelling buys. Arbor Realty Trust (ABR) The first dividend stock we’ll look at is Arbor Realty Trust, a direct lender in the apartment complex segment. Arbor funds small loans for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; in the fourth quarter last year, ending on December 31, the company originated over $2.7 billion in loans. Arbor’s business is growing, and that is visible in both the company’s quarterly results and the stock value. ABR reported year-over-year revenue increases in each quarter of 2020 – even in the first quarter, during which EPS came in negative due to the corona crisis. In the most recent quarter, 4Q20, the company showed $125.6 million in total revenues, up 54% from the year ago quarter. EPS came in at 80 cents per share, compared to 72 cents in Q3 and 34 cents in 4Q19. Turning to the share value, ABR is up 211% in the last 12 months, far outpacing the broader markets. The company also provides investors with a strong dividend. Arbor has a 2-year history of keeping the payment reliable, and the current payment, sent out earlier this month for 33 cents per common share, marked the seventh dividend increase in the last 9 quarters. At $1.32 annualized, the dividend yields 8.57%, far higher than the 1.78% average found among peer companies. 5-star analyst Stephen DeLaney, of JMP, is impressed with Arbor’s overall position, especially regarding the company’s ability to produce strong agency volumes. “Agency originations in the fourth quarter were $2.75B, an impressive increase of 88% from $1.47B in the third quarter. The pipeline for new originations is showing no signs of a slowdown yet and the company expects the agency lending momentum to continue into the first half of 2021. The agency servicing portfolio now sits at $24.6B and produces ~ $110M of recurring annual revenue, which is largely prepayment protected,” DeLaney wrote. DeLaney points out that agency credit quality remains solid, noting: “Loans in payment forbearance remain manageable with just 0.5% in Arbor’s $18.3B Fannie portfolio, while loans in forbearance in the company’s $4.9B Freddie Mac portfolio totaled 5.2%.” To this end, DeLaney rates ABR shares an Outperform (i.e. Buy), and his $18 price target implies a 16% upside for the coming year. (To watch DeLaney’s track record, click here) Overall, there are 4 recent reviews on file for Arbor Realty, and they are all Buys – making the analyst consensus view here a Strong Buy. The average price target currently stands at $16.75, which indicates room for 8% growth from current levels. (See ABR stock analysis on TipRanks) Mobile Telesystems (MBT) Next up, we’ll switch lanes and look at Russia’s largest mobile network operator. Mobile and wireless networks are big business, and Mobile Telesystems (MTS) operates in Russia, Belarus, and Armenia. The company offers a range of services, including cellular networks; local telephone service; and broadband. MTS doesn’t put its eggs in one basket. The company announced last week a $10 million stake in the AI chip developing Kneron, an investment that it hopes will pay for itself through chip distribution rights in Russia and the development of an exclusive line of AI-enabled smart devices. In its recent Q4/full year 2020 report, MTS showed positive growth on a number of key metrics. The company’s total group revenue for 2020 grew 5.2% year-over-year, to reach 494.9 billion rubles (US$6.5 billion). This was driven in part by a 6.4% increase in mobile service revenue in Russia during the fourth quarter. MTS showed a sequential quarterly gain of 230,000 active mobile subscribers in Q4. Pay-TV subscriptions grew 44% in 2020, and broadband subscriptions grew more than 10% yoy in the fourth quarter. MTS has an active dividend policy, regularly paying out twice per year, and adjusting the payment in to keep it in line with earnings. The most recent dividend went out in October of last year, at 19 cents per common share. This gives a 9.79% yield, a highly favorable comparison to the average yield found in the tech sector, of less than 1%. Also of note for return-minded investors, the company’s board approved a 15 billion ruble stock buyback in 2021. This comes to $198 million in US currency. J.P. Morgan analyst Alexei Gogolev takes a bullish stance on Mobile Telesystems, noting: “We are encouraged with MTS strong start of 2021 with continued mobile service growth as well as commitment for higher than expected shareholder remuneration despite elevated capex.” The analyst added, “We highlight strong fundamentals in the MTS story, supported by the healthy state of the Russian wireless market and no signs of incremental worsening of competitive positioning. We like MTS’ total shareholder returns (which are boosted by both dividends and share buybacks) and view the name as the best way to play the Russian telecom space.” To this end, Gogolev puts an Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating on MBT shares, and his $11 price target suggest a 33% one-year upside potential. (To watch Gogolev’s track record, click here) So far, MBT has slipped under the radar of Wall Street’s analyst corps; the dearth of recent reviews leaves the stock with a Moderate Buy consensus rating. The shares are selling for $8.25, with an average price target, $11.10, matching Gogolev’s. (See MBT stock analysis on TipRanks) Two Harbors Investment (TWO) We’ll wrap up our high-yield dividend list with Two Harbors Investment, a real estate investment trust (REIT) with a portfolio focus on residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) mortgage servicing rights (MSR). The company states that ‘other financial assets’ make up between 5% and 10% of the portfolio. Looking back at recent performance, Two Harbors shows some mixed results from the end of 2020. In the fourth quarter, the company reported comprehensive income of $113.5 million, compared to $219 million in the previous quarter. Core earnings, however, rose quarter-over-quarter, from $75.5 billion to $82 million. Book value also came in strong at $7.63, up 3.5% from the prior quarter. Like most REITs, Two Harbors pays out a reliable dividend. The company reduced the payment early in 2020, at the height of the COVID pandemic crisis, but has raised it twice since then. The current payment is 17 cents per common share, declared on March 18 for payment on April 29. At this rate, which annualizes to 68 cents, the dividend yields a strong 9.3%. Covering Two Harbors for JMP Securities, analyst Trevor Cranston expects “attractive dividend to persist,” and believes “the company should trade at a higher premium due to generally lower spread risk and low interest rate sensitivity.” However, Cranston points out that investing in TWO stock is not without risk. “We view the greatest risk to shares at these levels to be the outstanding lawsuit with the company’s former external manager. While the company has not established a contingent liability and we do not have a reasonable basis for estimating one, we acknowledge the risk that the lawsuit may result in a charge in the future that would lower the company’s book value and, therefore, also likely impact the stock price. While we believe a premium valuation for TWO is justified given fundamentals, we believe investors should also remain aware of this legal situation when investing in the company’s shares,” Cranston opined. In line with these comments, the analyst rates TWO an Outperform (i.e. Buy), along with an $8 price target to imply a 10% upside. (To watch Cranston’s track record, click here) Overall, Two Harbors has 5 recent reviews, and they break down to 3 Buys and 2 Holds, for a Moderate Buy analyst consensus rating. The shares are selling for $7.25, and their $7.75 average target suggests a modest upside of 7%. (See TWO stock analysis on TipRanks) To find good ideas for dividend stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.
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