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Why Insurer Metlife Could Be A Buy

MetLife is one of the oldest and most enduring companies in America, drawing its origins to 1863 in New York City. 

Over the past 16 decades it has grown from a simple provider of life insurance and annuities (60%) to a financial colossus that extends to employee benefits and asset management products and services.

From its famous Park Avenue location, MET reaches 90 million customers. This includes over 60 countries in Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East that adds to nearly 30% of its business.

The insurance and financial services industry is highly competitive in all respects. Great importance is placed on attracting new retail and corporate customers since longevity is a key to success in the main insurance and annuity segments of MET's business.

At the same time, adequate reserves must be maintained to meet eventual policy payments to beneficiaries. MET earns its income making actuarial assumptions and earning an interest spread in the interim.

Low interest rates combined with historically narrow interest spreads have disrupted fixed income markets for the past several years. As long-term fixed income investments have matured, insurance companies have been hard pressed to reinvest these proceeds as profitably.

For MET this has caused the company to alter actuarial assumptions and change reserve practices that was announced with the most recent quarterly performance. During this period, the company's revenues fell by 2% to $17 billion and per share profits by 93% to $0.06.

MET has paid dividends either to policyholders or stockholders for more than 90 years with regular increases over the past four. Yes, the financial industry is going through difficult times but it is not the first.

During the financial crisis in 2008, MET revenues increased 8% while per share profits posted negative growth of 24%. The company consistently paid dividends during this period. This means that MET could be less sensitive to bear market pressures than the average company.

The payout ratio is just 41% of earnings-per-share and only 13% of free cash flow. This is unusually low even for insurance companies that are required to maintain adequate reserves for policyholder payments.

MET's balance sheet is not particularly leveraged, and profitability margins are above average. Operating margins at 10.7% are the highest in nearly five years as are the 6% return on invested capital and 8% return on equity.

MET stock has seriously under performed the general market, driving up the $1.60 per share payout to a well above average 3.9% yield.

Over the past decade, dividends have compounded at an 11% average annual rate and by 14.9% over the past five years. If the company can continue to grow dividends and the stock price recovers, MET could offer investors attractive total returns.

Here is a corporate profil and the dividend history of the stock...

6 Cheap REITs With Solid Balance Sheets And Reasonable Debt Loads

With all the major US market indexes making new highs and dividend yields falling in concert, it takes a lot of work to find even a handful of stocks with fair valuations and decent dividend yields.

Bond prices are likewise at all time highs driving bond yields to all time lows. I’m so reluctant to put new money to work in either stock or bond mutual funds today, that I’ve stopped my automatic reinvestment of dividends and capital gains distributions in my fund portfolio. I’m waiting for a better time to add money into the broader stock and bond markets.

This article presents seven REITs and one yieldco that are not yet fully valued, have solid balance sheets and reasonable debt loads, have a history of earnings and dividend growth, and currently pay a respectable dividend.

These are the results...

7 Technology Large Cap Stocks With Yields Over 3%

In the growth at any price world of technology, finding good dividend yielding stocks can be a tall order. It's not just any company that can combine growth and profitability with just the right amount of payout to make things interesting.

With technology companies, it is always important to watch for excess. An ultra high yield can be great for living on dividends in retirement unless it reveals operating or balance sheet troubles. Rapid dividend growth is great also unless it drains the company of growth capital. Here are seven technology companies, each with a yield in excess of 3%.

Several have paying histories that make them blue-chip dividend stocks. All but Ericsson have increased their dividends by at least 5% per year over the last five years.

Here are the results...

10 Highest Yielding Healthcare Dividend Stocks

Healthcare's stable revenue and growing demand due to aging baby boomers makes it a hit with income investors, but not every healthcare stock with a big dividend yield is ripe to buy. 

These 10 healthcare stocks offer the best dividend yields in the sector, yet investors should avoid most of them. 

The 10 best dividend yields in healthcare We'll get into the nitty-gritty of which of these stocks are buys and sells in a minute, but first let's take a look at the list of the top 10 highest-dividend-yielding healthcare stocks:

3 Top Dividend Stocks For A Buy Consideration

The S&P 500 is trading near its all-time high, but that doesn't mean there aren't bargains to be found in the markets. 

In fact, I'd argue that several high-profile companies are trading for cheap valuations right now, and many of them even offer up big dividend yields.

Let's look at three dividend-paying stocks currently trading for below market multiples. These are names I think you can safely purchase today.

Here are the results...