BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Dividends are great, don't get me wrong. But there's a different metric that investors should be focusing on this year: I'm talking about "shareholder yield." There's a shareholder yield smorgasbord happening right under investors' noses in 2013, and you won't want to miss out.
Shareholder yield focuses on measuring all the different ways that a company can return cash to its shareholders. Yes, that includes dividends -- but it also includes share buybacks and paying down debt.
In a nutshell, shareholder yield is made up of moves that directly return cash or equity to your portfolio.Any of those three corporate actions can unlock significant value for shareholders, and the data backs it up. According to research by Cambria Investment Management CIO Mebane Faber, shareholder yield historically generates bigger returns than dividends alone. Much bigger returns. >>5 Stocks Ready for Breakouts The names that offer the heftiest yield aren't always obvious. While Microsoft (MSFT) made big headlines when it announced its $40 billion buyback and dividend plan yesterday, the tech giant ranks at #74 on our list of stocks with the highest shareholder yields. Today, we're focusing higher up on the list. With low interest rates and record levels of cash sitting on corporate balance sheets, management teams are looking for the most effective ways to return value to shareholders. It's not one size fits all, either - the best mix varies from company to company. But by looking at the trifecta of dividends, buybacks, and debt extinguishment, you can be sure that you won't miss out on any of the proceeds. >>5 Stocks With Big Insider Buying Here's a look at five names that have provided superior shareholder yield in the last year.