Two U.S. stocks that deserve our ‘Highest’ rating

Article Excerpt

Verizon and McDonald’s—two U.S. companies that carry our “Highest” Dividend Sustainability Rating. That scoring reflects not only their long-term commitment to regular dividend increases, but their improving profitability. VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC. $47 (New York symbol VZ; Income-Growth Dividend Portfolio, Utilities sector, Shares outstanding: 4.1 billion; Market cap: $192.7 billion; Dividend yield: 5.0%; Dividend Sustainability Rating: Highest; has 116.3 million wireless users, 12.8 million traditional phone customers and 15.5 million Internet and TV subscribers. Starting November 2017, the company increased its quarterly dividend by 2.2%, to $0.59 a share from $0.5775. The new annual rate of $2.36 yields a high 5.0%. In the quarter ended December 31, 2017, Verizon earned $3.51 billion, or $0.86 a share. That’s unchanged from a year earlier. Revenue increased 5.0%, to $34.0 billion from $32.3 billion a year earlier. Verizon added 1.2 million subscribers under long-term contracts in the fourth quarter (net of cancellations). As well, over 90% of those customers use smartphones. Their devices generate higher profits for Verizon than regular…

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