With the Federal Reserve’s fight to curb inflation far from over, it’s safe to assume that a “Fed pivot” is not forthcoming. As interest rates remain high, it may take some more time for the bull market to return. With this in mind, it may prove worthwhile to focus on more promising opportunities in this environment, such as overlooked dividend stocks.
Why? Stocks in this category could generate market-beating returns, in two ways. First, of course, from their steady, above-average dividends. Not as widely followed as, say, dividend aristocrats, their relative obscurity means they have not been bid up to prices that give them satisfactory yet not exactly exciting forward yields. Second, these stocks aren’t only doomed to provide a steady payout, and trade sideways. These stocks trade at low valuations and have potential catalysts that could move them to materially higher prices, irrespective of the market’s overall direction.
So, what are the top overlooked dividend stocks to buy today? Consider these seven. Each one has the potential to deliver market-beating total returns.
|ARC||ARC Document Solutions||$3.78|
|NYCB||New York Community||$9.58|
|SQM||Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile||$93.13|
ARC Document Solutions (ARC)
Based in San Ramon, California, ARC Document Solutions (NYSE:ARC) is a digital printing and document-related services company. Operating around the world, a major industry that it serves is the engineering and construction space. Last month, I named ARC stock one of the best penny stocks, due to its low valuation and steady operating results. Despite economic downturn worries, ARC’s earnings could keep growing. Sell-side estimates call for earnings to increase from 26 cents per share in 2022 to 34 cents per share in 2024.
This could drive outsized gains for ARC, as shares move higher due to both increased earnings, as well as from multiple expansions. However, that’s not the only reason why you should consider buying this stock. ARC is also one of the best overlooked dividend stocks, with its high forward yield of 5.31%. Earnings growth could result in moderate increases to this payout over time.
Douglas Elliman (DOUG)
Like ARC, Douglas Elliman (NYSE:DOUG) is another small-cap stock that also offers an above-average dividend yield. Shares in the luxury real estate services firm currently have a forward dividend yield of 3.92%.
Admittedly, now may seem like the worst time to enter a position in DOUG stock, given the current uncertainties surrounding the housing market. The U.S. has already experienced a housing slowdown, and despite voices saying otherwise, another “housing crash” isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
So, why DOUG, and why now? With its move from $12 to $5 per share since its debut in late 2021, one can argue that the market has already priced in the impact of a housing downturn. Although earnings have dropped, Douglas Elliman is expected to report positive earnings during this rough patch. Once the housing market rebounds, earnings could bounce back as well, driving a recovery for DOUG stock.
VAALCO Energy (EGY)
VAALCO Energy (NYSE:EGY) is an oil exploration and production company. Earlier this month, I argued that EGY is one of the most undervalued small-cap stocks. Trading for just 4.2 times earnings, it’s dirt cheap, even for an energy stock. However, EGY stock has now become one of the best overlooked dividend stocks. Why? On Feb. 14, management announced that it is raising Vaalco’s quarterly dividend by 92%, from 3.25 cents per share to 6.25 cents per share. This increase gives EGY a forward yield of 5.23%.
Besides providing investors with steady returns with this higher payout, EGY also offers ample upside potential. Cost savings from its merger with TransGlobe Energy could result in earnings growth, even if crude oil prices fail to return to their 2022 highs. A moderate increase in earnings may be enough to convince the market to give Vaalco a higher valuation.
New York Community Bancorp (NYCB)
With a low valuation (7.7 times earnings) and a high dividend yield (7.1%), New York Community Bancorp (NYSE:NYCB) almost seems too good to be true. That is, appearing to be the perfect value stock, it must be a value trap, right?
Not necessarily. Yes, NYCB stock has been far from a top performer over the past twelve months. Although moving higher since January, shares have fallen by around 16.4% since last February. However, there is a catalyst that could keep the stock on an upward trajectory.
As InvestorPlace’s Ian Bezek argued in January, NYCB’s recently finalized merger with Flagstar Bancorp could pave the way to higher earnings. Even if this does not result in a big re-rating, it may result in modest gains for the stock. Coupled with the high yield, this could result in total returns that outperform the overall stock market.
Pitney Bowes (PBI)
At current prices, Pitney Bowes (NYSE:PBI) has a fairly high forward dividend yield (4.73%), but with a payout ratio well above 100%, admittedly this payout (already slashed in 2018) could be in for another decrease.
Or will it? Efforts from shareholder activist Hestia Capital to take over the business products company’s board in a proxy fight may help secure this payout, and more importantly, push PBI stock to much higher prices. Hestia has a game plan to help optimize the performance of Pitney Bowes’ business.
Of course, Hestia needs to win the proxy fight, at Pitney Bowes’ next annual shareholder meeting, which based on the date of last year’s meeting, will likely occur in early May. However, with PBI’s poor performance over the past five years (down more than 65%), a majority of PBI shareholders may decide to cast their vote for Hestia’s slate.
Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI)
Sinclair Broadcast Group (NASDAQ:SBGI) shares have been in a multi-year slump. Investors are bearish about future prospects for the company, which is one of America’s largest owners/operators of broadcast television stations. However, investors deciding to go contrarian with SBGI stock could be rewarded, in two ways. First, as a result of falling out of favor with investors, SBGI has become one of the overlooked dividend stocks. At current prices, shares have a forward yield of 5.28%. Second, investor sentiment could swing back.
As a Seeking Alpha commentator has pointed out, Sinclair is protected from further downside from its ill-fated investment in Diamond Sports Group. This aspect of the Sinclair story isn’t likely to have an additional negative impact. Between valuable “hidden assets,” management’s share repurchase efforts, and the potential for earnings to bounce back during the 2024 election cycle, there’s plenty that could change the market’s view on SBGI.
Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM)
Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (NYSE:SQM) is a popular vehicle among many investors looking for exposure to the “lithium boom,” or a massive increase in demand for lithium, due to its use in the production of electric vehicles (or EV) batteries.
Despite last year’s worries of a “lithium bust,” so far no such event has occurred. As EV proliferation results in demand continuing to outpace supply, as has been the trend recently, SQM is in a strong position to experience continued earnings growth in the coming years.
But besides the prospect of earnings growth resulting in price appreciation for SQM stock, this stock’s very high yield could result in some stunning total returns. SQM today has a trailing twelve-month (or TTM) dividend yield of 9.43%. Although this company has a variable dividend policy, assuming that earnings keep climbing, so too will this payout.
On the date of publication, Thomas Niel did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any other positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.