3 great income stocks I'd buy today

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Persimmon

The earlier you start investing in income-generating stocks, the sooner those dividends will start piling up, and the richer you will ultimately be. Here are three great FTSE 100 income stocks that I would consider buying today. 

AstraZeneca

Before you put any money into AstraZeneca(LSE: AZN) you have to consider the small matter of its recent profit warning. The pharmaceuticals giant warned that cheaper generic versions of its cholesterol drug Crestor are continuing to eat into sales, triggering a 13% decline in revenues in the fourth quarter, with annual turnover falling 7% to £23bn.

The big hope now is that AstraZeneca can replenish its dwindling pipeline with a new generation of blockbusters. Chief executive Pascal Soriot knows this better than anybody, and next year we will discover whether his strategy of investing in a dozen or so new drugs will pay off.

Soriot is aiming to almost double company revenues to reach as much as $45bn by 2023 and says AstraZeneca is rapidly approaching the "inflection point", with 12 drugs in the final stage of development, including cancer and asthma treatments. If they succeed, the rewards will flow. You get a healthy 4.73% yield while you wait for the answer, but AstraZeneca may be too risky for some.

National Grid

Utility company National Grid(LSE: NG) offers a similar-sized yield of 4.52%, but with fewer risks, as it is a heavily regulated industry offering a basic service to millions of customers in the UK and north-eastern US. This assures relatively steady earnings and cash flows.

This gives management the confidence to pledge to increase its dividend each year in line with the retail price index, which stood at 2.5% in December. Investors also benefit from share buybacks and special dividends, with the company recently announcing plans to sell a majority stake in its gas distribution business and return £4bn from the sale to shareholders. Share price growth has been steady too, up 50% in five years, although it has wobbled lightly. This remains one of my favourite income stocks.

Persimmon

Housebuilders have had a bumpy ride since Brexit, Persimmon(LSE: PSN) included. But it has recovered lately, rising 17% in the last six months as the UK economy, population and house prices have continued to grow.

The housing crisis is one of the biggest problems facing Britain and few believe the government has the answers, following the publication of last week's Housing White Paper, widely seen as a damp squib. This was seen as good news for housebuilders, as the clamour for property looks set to continue. Persimmon rose 3.47% on Wednesday as a result, faster than any housebuilder.

Perhaps Brexit will slow population growth, perhaps not. Perhaps interest rates will rise spark a crash, but I doubt it. House price growth is certainly slowing, falling to 5.7% a year in January, down from a high of 10% last March, Halifax says. But I am still backing UK property, a scarce resource, especially with Persimmon trading at just 11.5 times earnings and yielding 5.57%, which is more than 22 times base rate.

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Harvey Jones has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended AstraZeneca. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.