3 High-Yield Stocks Safe for Retirees

Markets Motley Fool

Stocks that offer retirees strong dividend yields and minimal risk are out there -- if you know where to look. To get you started, here are three that combine both of these key attributes. They include Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), Kimberly-Clark (NYSE: KMB) and Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK).

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Value and income, a winning combination

Tim Brugger: (Cisco): Cisco's stock is up "just" 8% in 2017, causing some retirees to question the soundness of investing in this company. However, with its 3.5% dividend and a valuation that's nearly half of the industry average as measured by its price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) of 17, Cisco pays shareholders one of the highest yields in its sector and offers tremendous value -- which minimizes downside risk.

Many investors have been focused on Cisco's 4% drop in total revenue last quarter, to $12.1 billion, but that hardly tells the Cisco story. CEO Chuck Robbins is focused on two initiatives: boosting software and subscriptions sales to build a foundation of recurring revenue, and cutting costs. Cisco's fiscal fourth quarter was undeniably successful in both areas.

An impressive $3.75 billion (31%) of Cisco's revenue last quarter was recurring, up from 27% a year ago. It's a slow process building a base of recurring revenue, but in the long run, Cisco shareholders will find it translates to relatively predictable earnings. And that stability makes it ideal for retirees who generally like to avoid stocks with wild price swings.

As for expenses, Cisco again took a step in the right direction, shaving 7% off operating expenses, to $3.9 billion, excluding one-time items. This result was despite the 4% drop in total sales. The company's earnings per share (EPS) dropped a mere 3% on an adjusted basis, to $0.61 a share. Cisco's industry-leading dividend yield combined with its predictable source of revenue make the company an ideal high-yield stock for retirees.

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A stock that will hug and pamper you over time

Rich Duprey (Kimberly-Clark): People aren't going to stop having babies, and Kimberly-Clark will continue to have a leadership position in diapers, even if it lost the top spot to competing brand Pampers from Procter & Gamble a few years ago. Diapers surprisingly is a rough-and-tumble business that not even Amazon.com was able to succeed at.

Everyone expected that, when Amazon bought the diapers.com site back in 2010, it would become a category killer. The e-commerce king launched its own brand, called Amazon Elements, that promised transparency about sourcing and materials, but ultimately, it couldn't survive the Diapers Wars, and closed down the operation.

While Huggies is one of the biggest brands in its portfolio, Kimberly-Clark also owns Kleenex, Scott, Kotex, and more. Its personal-care division, which houses these brands, accounts for 50% of its $9 billion in year-to-date revenue. Its leadership position atop the personal-care products market remains assured.

So does its dividend, which currently yields 3.2%. Kimberly-Clark has increased the payout annually for 45 consecutive years, though Procter & Gamble has hiked its payout for 60 straight years. This shows the safety, security, and stability that comes from owning a broad collection of popular consumer staples.

This 4% yield will let you sleep well in retirement

Neha Chamaria (Duke Energy): As enticing as high yields can be, it's important for retirees to ensure that the yields are also stable and secure. Otherwise, they may fail to serve the purpose of helping you build a retirement fund. Electric and gas utility Duke Energy, with its 4.2% dividend yield, is one stock that won't leave you in the lurch.

Like most utilities, Duke's key investing thesis revolves around its defensive business of supplying an essential service, like electricity, the demand for which isn't subject to the whims of economic cycles. However, Duke's intent to focus on renewable energy should keep its cash flows ringing in the years to come.

Duke demonstrated its commitment toward clean energy last year when it acquired Piedmont Natural Gas in a deal worth $4.9 billion, to treble its natural gas customer base to 1.5 million. Management smartly intends to balance capital spending between upgrading existing infrastructure and expanding its renewables footprint.

Duke expects its growth moves to drive earnings per share and dividends by 4%-6% each through 2021. When this is combined with a dividend growth yield of around 4%, shareholders can expect strong returns from the company going forward. Mind you, Duke stock may not be a highflier, as is the case with most utility stocks, but its dividend yield is among those that you can rely on for your golden years.

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Neha Chamaria has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Tim Brugger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool recommends Cisco Systems. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.