With interest rates likely to remain unchanged for the remainder of the year, dividend-paying stocks are still investors' best income vehicles.
Discover Financial Services has 20.8 million merchant locations, making it a leading global direct bank and electronic-payment-services company. Its direct bank operates the company's flagship credit card business, the Discover Card, and offers an array of banking products including certificates of deposit, personal loans, prepaid cards and private student loans.
As the world adopts more cashless transactions, Discover Financial Services has the infrastructure in place to profit from this long-term trend. The company's payments businesses, Discover Network, PULSE ATM/Debit and Diners Club International, together process billions of transactions a year in credit, debit and prepaid markets worldwide.
As the economy recovered and business started to improve after the 2008 crisis, Discover Financial Services launched an aggressive program to hike its dividend and buy back shares.
The company said that it would raise the dividend 42% and buy back $2.4 billion in shares, about 10% of the company's total market cap.
Discover has paid a dividend since 2007 and, more impressively, never stopped paying it when the financial crisis hit. In fact Discover Financial Services has increased its annual dividend by 35% per year on average over the last five years.
Trading at a low multiple of just 9.3 times forward earnings, Discover Financial Services also offers a dividend yield of 2.1%.
The country's largest wireless communications company, Verizon Communications operates America's fastest and most extensive 4G wireless network, providing services over the most advanced fiber-optic network. It also serves businesses, governments and wholesale customers across the globe.
In addition, it delivers business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all the Fortune 500 companies.
More than 80% of new phone sales are smartphones, which offer the company the ability to charge more for service plans for those devices and also better margins on each customer's service plan. Subscribers to Verizon Communications' FiOS TV are also increasing ahead of the company's expectations, which grew 4.4% in the most recent quarter.
Restructuring of long-term debt has also caused the company some short-term pain, but it has taken advantage of low rates. Although Verizon Communications has spent more than $9 billion in one-time costs, a temporary setback for the company's earnings, it is positioned for long-term earnings growth due to its investment in its new 4G LTE network and Fios TV.
In the meantime, Verizon Communications continues to generate very positive cash flow, some of which it passes through to its shareholders in the form of a nearly 5% dividend yield. Regardless of how the smartphone market evolves, the company's extensive FiOS network ensures that it will continue to participate in a large amount of the revenue it generates.
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The author is an independent contributor. At the time of publication, he owned none of the stocks mentioned.