Following The Pros For Big Dividends

By Investopedia | May 31, 2010 AAA

With the markets as volatile as ever, thanks chiefly to the worries surrounding the Eurozone, investors are bailing out of many of their equity positions and staying in cash or fixed income. However, for income investors, this most recent correction could signal a great opportunity to collect some sizable dividend yields at sale prices.

While the universe of dividend-paying stocks is big enough to make it difficult for potential investors to know where to begin, the fact that the number of "high-yield" stocks just got even bigger thanks to the recent plunge in equities makes it even tougher. One strategy to help investors get started in analyzing potential stocks is to follow the smart money. By searching out high-yield stocks with high levels of institutional ownership investors can see which dividend paying companies money managers are betting on.

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With that in mind, here are five stocks with sizable current dividend yields that have a large institutional ownership presence:

Company Current Dividend Yield Institutional
Ownership
Pitney Bowes (NYSE:PBI) 6.7 % 88%
CenturyTel (NYSE:CTL) 8.7% 72%
EarthLink (Nasdaq:ELNK) 7.5% 95%
FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE) 6.3% 64%
National Retail Properties (NYSE:NNN) 7.0% 84%

Printing Money
Of the stocks listed above, I would lead investors to take a closer look at Pitney Bowes. The Connecticut-based office supply/equipment/services company competes in the same space as Xerox (NYSE:XRX), and offer potential investors a 6.7% yield, currently 36.5 cents per share quarterly. Although PBI has suffered as much as any other firm during this most recent slide in the global markets (down 12% since May 3, 2010), its fundamentals are solid. Not only has it provided earnings beats in each of the last three quarters, but management recently reaffirmed guidance for the rest of 2010, where they are expecting adjusted EPS to be in the range of 2.30-2.50. Add to this that the board of directors voted to approve a share repurchase of $150 million to be used in the next 12-18 months. However, with shares hovering near their 52-week low, buying back now could end up being a very wise move.

Pitney Bowes management is also excited about the company's expansion into value-added services, which they hope will provide higher margins and increase customer loyalty in the coming years. If this new service strategy is successful it could act as the fuel for the firm's earnings growth over the next three to five years. To add to the fundamentals, keep in mind that 88% of PBI's float is owned by institutional investors. (For more dividend paying stock ideas, check out Big Energy Dividends.)

The Bottom Line
By searching out stocks that professional money managers are holding, investors can create a list of potential buys. Pitney Bowes is definitely the most intriguing company on this list, but the other firms may appeal to other investors for a variety of reasons. Investors should perform their due-diligence on these and all stocks before making an investment decision. (For more potential picks, see Look To Semiconductors For Earnings Growth.)

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