As February ends, we can breathe a sigh of relief as another painful month comes to a close. This month saw the Dow lose over 900 points or 11.7%. The falling stock prices of even the blue chip companies of the Dow Jones index has produced some incredibly high dividend yields. Many of these dividend payments are almost sure to be cut, and many already have (General Motors (NYSE:GM), JP Morgan (NYSE:JPM), General Electric (NYSE:GE)).
So which companies have the safest dividends? For the sake of this analysis, we are only going to consider stocks with dividend yields of 3% or greater. We assume that dividend investors are looking to capitalize on the higher dividend yields and as such would not be as interested in safe, but lower-yielding dividend stocks.
Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) (4.0% yield)
With projected 2009 earnings of $3.13 per share, the company’s $1.64 annual dividend seems very reasonable. Even the Obama White House is lending their support to Coke these days, announcing their preference of Coke over Pepsi.
United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) (3.9% yield)
While earnings will undoubtedly be down this year, the company is only expected to pay out roughly a third of its projected earnings for the year. So investors getting into the stock now can take advantage of the stock’s 24% slide since the beginning of the year and benefit from the solid dividend yield.
McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) (4.4% yield)
Many people have been surprised at McDonald’s recent slide since the beginning of the year. The stock is considered a great value play and now offers investors a solid dividend yield of over 4%. Consumers are going to continue to flock to McDonald’s in this environment and we think it would be highly unlikely for the company to reduce its dividend.
3M (NYSE:MMM) (4.5% yield)
Earlier this month, 3M voted to increase its quarterly dividend payment by 2% to $.51 per share. While sales and profits are expected to decline in 2009, the company’s dividend payout ratio still remains at a comfortable 50%. So the economy would need to significantly worsen before the company would need to cut its dividend payments.
Merck (NYSE:MRK) (6.3% yield)
Merck is one of the Dow’s dividend stocks that operates in the reasonably immune healthcare sector. While the stock is down 20% since the beginning of the year, the company’s relative performance remains strong.
While the only thing certain in this economic environment seems to be uncertainty, these five dividend stocks appear to be in a strong position to continue providing dividend investors with consistent yields in 2009.