In the investment community, the Standard and Poors 500 Index (S&P 500) is the most common benchmark representing the stock market as a whole. This is why S&P 500 Index funds are a favorite among passive ETF investors

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Unfortunately, the S&P 500 as a whole has a low dividend yield (only around 2%). Therefore, if you are an income investor who is counting on a reliable stream of dividend payments, the S&P 500's low yield might not be a good core holding for you.

However, if you sift through the index's 500 component stocks, you will notice that a number of them are high-yielding, consistent dividend payers. Furthermore, for the more risk-averse, there also a number of blue chips in the index with solid dividend yields.

SEE: Be Risk Diverse, Not Risk Averse

For all of you dividend fiends out there, we combed through the S&P 500 to find the top 7 highest yielding stocks:

Company Ticker Dividend YTD
Frontier Communications Corporation FTR 10% -26.5%
CenturyLink, Inc. CTL 7.50% +2.2%
Windstream Corporation WIN 10.3% -18.5%
Pitney Bowes Inc. PBI 10.1% -22.7%
R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company RRD 9.20% -27.1%
Altria Group Inc. MO 4.80% +18.07%
Cincinnati Financial Corp. CINF 4.40% +19.58%

SEE: How Dividends Work For Investors

The Bottom Line
Dividends matter. After all, a dividend check can help investors sleep easily because it shows that the company has a stable capacity to make money. Best of all, the cash in your hand is proof that the earnings are really there, and you can reinvest or spend them as you see fit.

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