5 Dividend Stocks To Watch In The S&P 500

Includes: EPD, KMP, MO, T, VOD
by: Waterbury Research

The market turmoil seen in the last half decade has led many investors to flock to safer assets as a way of protecting against the general theme of pessimism that has filtered into the trading community. But given the long term interest rate policy being implemented by the Federal Reserve, treasury bonds are offering lower rates of return and forcing traders to look at other forms of investment. One option is to look for stocks with high dividend yields and here we will look at 5 possibilities that have "strong buy" ratings from Standard and Poor's and have a dividend yield of at least 5%.

Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD) is a natural gas company with a market cap of $43 billion and is currently owned by 10 separate hedge funds. The stock's 2011 performance showed an impressive rise of 18% and the S&P one year price target indicates a further rise of 10% for the company. All of this is combined with a dividend yield of 5.15%, offering the complete package for new portfolio addition.

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (NYSE:KMP) is a pipeline and storage company with a market cap of $29 billion and a dividend yield of 5.4%. The company's 2011 stock performance showed a massive rise of 28% and S&P has a one year price projection indicating an additional rise of 13%. The company has received vocal endorsements from some major private investors, helping to make this another top dividend investment pick.

Next, we will look at Altria (NYSE:MO), which is another popular choice amongst hedge funds and has a market cap of $59 million. The cigarette company (the largest producer in the US) saw stock increases of 28% in 2011 but the S&P one year projection calls only for an additional rise of 5%. We included the stock in our list, however, because of the impressive dividend yield (5.7%) and because of its popularity amongst hedge funds (with total investments of nearly $520 million).

AT&T (NYSE:T) is one of the most well-known telecommunications companies in the world, with a market cap of $180 billion. Its 5.8% dividend yield was combined with a 2011 rise of 7.1% and an S&P projection for an additional 12% rise in 2012. This company's long term stability and impressive dividend yields make this a strong pick for long term investors.

Last, Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) rounds out our list with a market cap of $140 billion. This wireless telecommunications company offers investors a dividend yield of 5.4% and showed a strong performance in 2011, with a rise of 16%. The S&P price projection for VOD calls for a massive rise of 22% in 2012 and this has gotten the attention of hedge funds, with 35 in total taking positions in the stock (valued at nearly $1 billion).

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.