In the 10 days since we posted our preliminary list of 2021’s Dogs of the Dow, more than 23,000 Americans have died from causes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. To put that number into some perspective, in the week ended December 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the number of U.S. deaths related to COVID-19 could have been as much as 19.5% higher than the total number of deaths expected in a typical year.
The death toll makes it hard to celebrate a year that has been solid for investors. The Dow Jones industrial average has added about 6.6% and the S&P 500 index has done even better, adding about 15.5% for 2020.
The interest rate on 10-year Treasuries, however, has dipped from a yield of around 1.92% at the end of 2019 to 0.91% this year. With “safe” returns so low, some investors likely chose to invest in stocks that offered better yields. Among stocks long considered both safe and as having good returns are the so-called Dogs of the Dow, the 10 highest dividend-yielding stocks among the Dow blue chippers.
2020 was not a good year for the Big Dogs. As a group, share prices dropped by an average of more than 13% this year. Going into 2020, yields on the Dogs ranged from 5.1% to 3.0%, less than half the loss to lower share prices. Going into 2021, the range is relatively the same except at the very top, where the highest dividend yield is just over 6%.
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Using the SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (NYSE: DIA) that adds dividends and share price appreciation to calculate a total return, the Dow has posted a return of 9.59% for the year to date, far below 2019’s total return of 25.03%.
In 2020, the range of dividend payments for the Dow 30 has been 0.59% to 6.11%. Three stocks (Disney, Boeing and Salesforce) suspended have suspended dividends due to the impact of the pandemic. Excluding these three stocks, the mean dividend among the 10 Dogs is 4.1%.
Here’s the final list of the Dogs of the Dow, based on a screen run after markets closed on December 31. We’ve rounded the dividend yield to the nearest tenth. One last note on the Dogs: In August, the Dow dropped Exxon Mobil, Pfizer and Raytheon (formerly United Technologies) and added Salesforce, Amgen and Honeywell.
Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX): 6.1% International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM): 5.2% Dow Inc. (NYSE: DOW): 5.1% Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (NASDAQ: W(BA)): 4.7% Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ): 4.3% 3M Co. (NYSE: MMM): 3.4% Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO): 3.2% Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK): 3.2% Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN): 3.1% Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO): 3.0%
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