3 Top Dividend Stocks With Yields Over 4%

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Some high-yielding dividend stocks are fantastic long-term investments, but others are deeply troubled businesses whose rich dividend yields serve as warning signs. Sometimes stocks are cheap for a reason, after all.

To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, we asked some of your fellow investors here at The Motley Fool to highlight a few high-yielders that are in it to win it. Read on to see why you should be more excited than scared by the high yields attached to Omega Healthcare Investors (NYSE: OHI), General Mills (NYSE: GIS), and Nielsen Holdings (NYSE: NLSN).

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Rumors of Nielsen's death are greatly exaggerated

Anders Bylund (Nielsen Holdings): The media measurement veteran is hardly a market darling today. Share prices have plunged 38% lower over the last two years, as investors lost faith in Nielsen's ability to stay relevant in an increasingly digital world. Why rely on Nielsen's audience estimates when you can simply build real-time viewership tracking into your mobile apps and cable boxes, arguably getting better data at a lower cost without superfluous middle-men?

The lower prices have resulted in rising dividend yields. Nielsen also boosted its annual payouts by 13% in the last two years and by 75% over four years. Together, the payout increases and lower share prices have lifted Nielsen's dividend yield to new highs of 4.3%.

If you think the skeptics are right, feel free to hunt for high-yielding stocks elsewhere. But if you think they're wrong, Nielsen could be primed for a strong rebound from these modest share prices, and you'll be kicking yourself over the opportunity to lock in solid yields at a deep-discount entry price.

Nielsen's annual revenues have actually increased by 20% in the last five years. At the same time, free cash flows and EBITDA profits surged more than 40% higher. That's hardly the last gasp of a dying business model.

And governments all over the world are helping Nielsen succeed right now. Regulatory bodies around the globe are thinking up new restrictions on how digital companies can collect and use data about their customers, which makes Nielsen's third-party data collection services look like the only way to fly in many cases.

The stock is trading at just 12 times forward earnings, near the lowest valuation ratios seen since Nielsen made its comeback to the public markets in 2011. I'm not saying that Nielsen is a risk-free gimme today, but the risk/reward equation is heavily tilted in an investor-friendly direction.

Just don't expect the discounts to last forever. If you're planning to take a swing at Nielsen's juicy dividend yields, the time to act is now.

Feed on this dividend stock

Dan Caplinger (General Mills): Many solid dividend stocks have quite pedestrian businesses that are easy to have confidence in and understand. General Mills is a perfect example, with a host of products that many will remember from the breakfast table, including Cheerios and Pillsbury. The food giant also stands behind brands like Annie's natural foods, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and Betty Crocker baking needs.

Food might sound like a boring business, but don't fall for that myth. Choose wisely, and consumers reward you for giving them products that fit with their changing tastes. Make a misstep, and you risk falling behind. General Mills has had its fair share of wins and losses lately, and recently, fears about rising costs for raw ingredients and freight delivery have had some shareholders worried about the potential impact on the company's profits.

General Mills has weathered similar storms before, and its track record of strong dividend payouts provides some margin of safety from any future downturn. In addition to its 4.4% dividend yield, General Mills has boosted its annual payout for 14 consecutive years. Recent increases have been small, but share prices are now cheap enough to offer value investors a nice potential return if the food company can get things turned around and overcome obstacles in its path.

A rich potential reward for investors who can look past short-term stumbles

Chuck Saletta (Omega Healthcare Investors): As the American population continues to age while its birth rate declines, the odds are that we will have more people in need of nursing home care. After all, most people who can do so rely on family for care as long as possible, and with smaller families, more people reaching well into their senior years will need professional help to get themselves through.

Those trends ultimately bode well for nursing home and assisted-living-facility financier Omega Healthcare Investors. A company that owns, finances, and leases the facilities that enable that professional care for the aged, Omega Healthcare Investors is well positioned for that demographic shift over time.

Despite those longer-term trends, the short term may be a bit rocky. While Omega Healthcare Investors had previously been relentlessly increasing its dividend by a small amount every quarter, it announced a freeze for 2018 -- with a static dividend at $0.66 per share per quarter. That change was driven by a bankruptcy of one of its key tenants, which will drive a short-term tightness in its cash flows.

Still, despite those tenant's financial troubles, Omega Healthcare Investors expects to deliver adjusted funds from operations between $2.96 and $3.06 for 2018. That comfortably covers the company's $2.64 dividend for the year, while still giving the company increased breathing room to manage its way through the impact of its tenants' challenges.

At recent prices, Omega Healthcare Investors yields a whopping 10.2%. As its bankrupt tenant's operations are restructured, there's good reason to believe that Omega Healthcare Investors' cash flows will recover over time. After all, the demographic trends are still in place, and the need for senior care facilities will still be there, no matter who is providing the care.

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Anders Bylund has no position in any of the stocks mentioned, but he worked for Nielsen before he was a full-time Fool. Chuck Saletta has the following options: long January 2020 $27 calls on Omega Healthcare Investors, short January 2020 $27 puts on Omega Healthcare Investors, short June 2018 $24 puts on Omega Healthcare Investors, and short June 2018 $30 calls on Omega Healthcare Investors. Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.