There are plenty of high-yield stocks to pick from in the FTSE 100 at the moment. The trouble is that the dividends of some of them have been stuck at the same level for several years and aren't forecast to increase anytime soon.
Inflation is on the rise, which means you'll need noticeably more income this year to purchase the same goods and services as you did last year. As such, a static dividend represents an income cut in real terms.
However, it's not all bad news. There are several Footsie stocks that not only have high yields, but also good prospects of dividend growth.
Model of consistency
Electricity firm SSE(LSE: SSE) has a tremendous record of consistent dividend growth. The company delivered a 30p-a-share dividend in 2001 and has increased it every year since. Last year's payout was 89.4p.
For the current year, the company said it "expects to report an annual increase in the full-year dividend that at least keeps pace with RPI inflation". City analysts are forecasting 91.4p, which gives a yield of 6.1% at a share price of 1,500p.
Furthermore, the board added that "annual increases that at least keep pace with RPI inflation [are] also being targeted for the subsequent years". So SSE offers a nice high starting yield, with the prospect of inflation-protected payouts for the foreseeable future.
The company said in January that it's on target to deliver earnings per share of at least 120p in its current financial year (ending 31 March). This would cover the 91.4p forecast dividend 1.3 times. For the three years to March 2019, management expects dividend cover to range from 1.2 to 1.4, based on dividend increases that at least keep pace with inflation.
Generally, I would want a higher level of cover than this, but the reliability of cash flows for utilities makes SSE's cover perfectly acceptable to me. As such, I rate the stock one of the top high-income picks in the FTSE 100.
Insurer Legal & General(LSE: LGEN) doesn't have the same long record of consistent dividend growth as SSE. Like most companies in the financial sector, its dividend took a hit as a result of the 2008/9 financial crisis.
However, L&G recovered strongly from the crisis. Its dividend was back above its pre-crisis high of 5.97p by 2011 and last year's payout was 14.35p. This was a 7% increase on the previous year, in line with the board's "progressive dividend policy going forward, reflecting the group's medium-term underlying business growth, including net cash generation and operating earnings".
For the current year, City analysts are forecasting a 6% increase in L&G's payout to 15.2p, giving a yield of 6.1% at a share price of 250p. Forecast dividend cover of 1.4 times earnings is not much higher than SSE's, but the cover is stronger using net cash generation, which provides me with considerable comfort.
Analysts have pencilled-in inflation-busting, mid-single-digit dividend increases through to at least 2019 and with a starting yield of 6.1%, L&G is another of my top high-income picks.
Could SSE and L&G help you make a million?
A high yield and growing payout aren't only attractive for investors seeking an immediate income. Reinvesting dividends is a great way to build your capital pot through the miracle of compounding.
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G A Chester has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.