BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- It's earnings season, and that means that dividends are getting a lot of attention right now. After all, those regular payouts from your portfolio can contribute to a huge chunk of your investment performance. But dividends are only part of the story.
Yes, the cash companies are willing to dish out for investors has everything to do with how your portfolio fares, but dividends alone leave out two critical parts of the equation. For real market-beating returns, you've got to look at shareholder yield.
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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.
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.
Here's a look at five stocks that have provided superior shareholder yield in the last year.