The market has been moving in a positive direction lately, but the security of high yielding dividend stocks never really can go out of favor. The following five companies have some nice dividends with high yields that are hard to beat, but some of them carry more risk than others. Risk for this group comes in keeping up enough revenue growth to sustain the dividend payouts. Dividend growth is more often than not coupled with revenue growth and no growth or low growth leads to dividend cuts and a declining share price that follows. Figuring out the best play in this group can be a very difficult task.
Windstream (NASDAQ:WIN) - 11.60%
Windstream is one of those stocks that has bad news built into its performance. The share price of $8.71 is closer to its 52-week low of $7.86 a share than the 52-week high of $11.44 a share and yet the dividend yield only gets better, currently at 11.60%. What gives? Windstream has been experiencing revenue growth, yet can't seem to grow its profit along with it. Windstream closed out 2012 with $6.16 billion in revenue, up from $4.28 billion in 2011 and yet profit went down ever so slightly. The obvious question for investors is how safe the high dividend yield is with profit growth lagging so far behind revenue growth.
A closer look at Windstream yields a situation with high debt ($8.11 billion) and cash of only $158.5 million. Furthermore, that attractive dividend yield comes with a payout ratio of 357%. That is simply impossible to sustain and seems to be a big factor in pushing Windstream's share price lower. The P/E ratio of 31.00 and the EPS of .28 also don't raise too many eyebrows, but growth and potential for more growth is one thing Windstream does have in its corner. Windstream is diversifying from its rural operations and trying to branch out into faster growing ventures and still continues to operate in 48 states with broadband, voice and video services. The business technology solutions with cloud computing and advanced communications is where Windstream hopes to really experience growth, but the growth probably can't sustain this current dividend. The question for most investors is where this dividend will be a year from now and guessing by the price of the stock, many investors are waiting for a cut.
France Telecom (FTE) - 14.70%
France Telecom has a very high dividend yield currently at 14.70% and is also close to a 52-week low of $9.46 a share with its current price of $10.47. France Telecom has certainly experienced difficulties with its stock losing 27.3% of its value in the past year, having a tough time maintaining revenue and experiencing shrinking profits. Although Europe has been hammered by a slowdown lately, France Telecom is a big company that has over 230 million customers representing a subscriber growth of 3% from the previous year (2011). Revenue in 2012 decreased by .6% from 2011 but growth in Africa and the Middle East increased helping to compensate for slow growth at home in France. FTE does have debt of about $50.7 billion while cash reserves are only around $10 billion. The big problem for investors is the payout ratio that is still well over 300% and the stagnant growth in France where FTE still gets most of its revenue.
There do seem to be many analysts who believe that FTE can turn things around but a lot of this depends on its performance at home in France. Low cost competitor Iliad (OTC:ILIAF) promptly took about 8% of market share in France with its no-contract monthly plan and other competitors have also taken steps to take a bite out of FTE's customer base in France. FTE has responded by investing in 4G technologies and rolling out its 4G service that it expects to have available in about 30% of the country by the year's end. FTE has been aware of its financial situation and has instituted cost cutting measures in hopes of trimming about $650 million from its operating costs this year. FTE also has confidence that its B2B segment, Orange Business Services, can experience more growth and continue to offer future value to investors. Orange Business Services offers cloud-based communications solutions with its Business Together as a Service brand of services. The 4G service for France will help in the long run, but the business services division and growth in Africa and the Middle East must make more of an impact before then or a dividend cut might be the next cost cutting move that might have to be considered.
Calumet Specialty Products Partners, LP (NASDAQ:CLMT) - 7.00%
Calumet Specialty Products sells specialty hydrocarbon and fuel products in North America in two segments, Fuel Products and Specialty Products. This company only has a market cap of $2.38 billion and yet has revenue that soared to $4.66 billion in 2012 with a profit of $195 million realized on top of that. The healthy dividend yield of 7.00% appears to be safe with a payout ratio that comes in at 66% on top of what appears to be solid revenue growth. The share price of $37.55 has plenty of room to rise, reaching a 52-week high of $40.25 before and is also up over 40% from a year ago. Calumet additionally has a P/E ratio of 10.74 and an EPS of 3.50. Calumet does have a good amount of debt, $863 million, but with almost $1 billion in property plant and equipment, Calumet at least has something to show for it. Financially, Calumet does have plenty for investors to be excited about, but what about its products and how much growth can they offer?
Calumet has a broad array of products that it offers from asphalt to solvents and even gels used in personal hygiene products. Calumet also produces more traditional fuels and is building a diesel fuel refinery with MDU Resources in North Dakota that should begin production in about 20 months. Calumet is also exploring the potential in crude oil transportation and is considering a Lake Superior loading dock which can help it move Bakken crude oil from the fields of North Dakota and even potentially Canada. Oil transportation is a steadily growing business in this region and this could prove to be a great new source of potential revenue enabling Calumet to continue sustained revenue growth. Calumet's dividend yield of 7.0% is one of the highest in the energy sector and being entrenched in North American oil reserves bodes well for their future. The new North Dakota refinery should also keep Calumet going strong. Coupled with the ever increasing demand for oil, Calumet's prospects look good.
United Online, Inc. (NASDAQ:UNTD) - 6.30%
United Online is best known for its FTD interflora brands that sell flowers online from locally based florists, but there is much more to the company. The company has been performing lately for investors with a share price at $6.57 that is close to a 52-week high of $6.72 and above the 200-day moving average of $5.91. Momentum of the share price is evident by taking a look at the 50-day moving average of $6.18 a share and the 52-week change of over 39%. Profit has been steady for United with a decline in 2012 primarily due to a non-recurring impairment charge on UNTD's My Points brand. Revenue has also been steady with $871 million in 2012 to go along with earnings that left United Online with a P/E ratio of 54.75 and an EPS that was .12 despite the non-recurring charge of over $26 million factored in. This charge also helped lower the payout ratio to over 300% on UNTD's dividend that currently yields 6.30%. The market cap of United Online is a modest $604.8 million and United has about $136 million cash on hand versus a debt of about $233 million, which is not that bad. The profit outlook appears to be solid, but is there enough growth in its products to sustain the dividend?
United Online is a diversified company that operates in three business segments. The highest revenue generator for UNTD is its FTD segment including floral arrangements, jewelry, sweets, gift baskets, wine, fruit and spa products. In addition to these booming online industries, United also operates a content and media segment with Classmates, School Feed, Stay Friends and Trombi brands along with MyPoints loyal marketing services. The third segment is the communications arm that operates under the brands NetZero, Juno and other brands consisting of 4G mobile communications, internet security, email, web hosting and more services. United Online is currently considering a spin off of its FTD brands that will probably occur near the end of the third quarter of this year. The FTD brands currently make up about 70% of United Online's revenues and the question of how the other business segments will hold up is the first many investors are wondering. This FTD segment is United Online's most profitable segment and also has the highest growth potential, so most investors are anticipating this spin off that might just leave United Online's cupboard bare.
World Wrestling Entertainment (NYSE:WWE) - 5.30%
Wrestling entertainment says a mouthful to what WWE is all about. The Rock and John Cena are big characters that are built up to rock star status and marketed to an adoring fan base. This company just completed one of its major events, Wrestlemania 29, which was its highest grossing event of all time producing a record $72 million from gate and pay-per-view receipts. This has helped to push the stock price up to $9.15 a share from its 200-day moving average of $8.34 a share. This entertainment company packs a punch with a dividend yield of 5.30%, while working towards lowering a payout ratio that currently sits at 114%. Revenues have increased over the last three years with $484 million last year to go along with a profit of $31.4 million. This gives WWE a P/E ratio of 21.79 to go along with an EPS of .42 which is not too bad for this group. WWE's stock has good growth prospects with a 5-year PEG ratio of 1.65 and stable 15% increase from a year ago, which almost mirrors the S&P 500 at 12.8%. The market cap is still pretty modest at $685 million and as the events grow and Wrestlemania continues to draw more fans (80,676 for Wrestlemania 29), growth should be easy enough to maintain. The ability to draw fans from all age groups and some international flavor can only help keep the company going and growing.
WWE has been around for quite some time and has faced competition from other sports like boxing and now MMA, but it's the characters that draw in the fans. The fact that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and John Cena have been featured in Hollywood productions only helps solidify the brand. Instead of focusing on the product (wrestling), WWE has done a great marketing job with focusing on the wrestlers themselves, allowing fans to get connected to the characters, leading to more product sales and greater interest. WWE has also promoted its brand through its website, a WWE magazine and lots of charity events involving children and even the armed forces. Its appeal to children with anti-bullying campaigns, action figures and toys, colorful character t-shirts and a full slate of video games only helps ensure a continuous customer base. WWE has also gone out of its way to provide international appeal with its characters, apparel, events held in other countries and teachings of diversity. This brand has room to grow if done right, but banking on the stars themselves could backfire once retirement age of the current crop is reached. That could ultimately affect WWE's performance and bottom line.
It is not easy to maintain dividend yields above 5%, but so far these companies have managed to do so. Windstream and France Telecom have high dividends, but face more obstacles in sustaining them. WWE and Calumet yield less, but offer better growth potential for the future and greater protection from dividend cuts. There is risk in any investment, but not one of these companies faces the prospect of closing up shop anytime soon. Will Windstream or France Telecom have to cut their dividends or will United Online or WWE experience a decline in value (share price) from their current higher valuations? Calumet might just be the safest of the bunch, if you want something to hold onto for awhile offering a nice dividend and a price that has many reasons to keep going up. If you are looking for a slightly shorter play, France Telecom offers a great dividend yield at a price that has more room to go up than down. Depending on your situation, there is plenty of room to grow your investment.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.