There are some amazing yields on the FTSE 100 these days, with many top names yielding 20 or 30 times base rate. The following two solid, low-risk businesses offer sky-high yields, even if share price growth has been in short supply in recent years.
On your Marks
High street retail giant Marks & Spencer Group(LSE: MKS) isn't the fashion force it once was, having repeatedly failed to lure younger shoppers into its stores. Thankfully, its food division has picked up the slack, although that isn't enough to rescue the business as a whole.
Astonishingly, today's share price of 330p is half its level a full decade ago, when it stood at 670p. The decline has continued even as the stock market booms, with the share price falling 21% in the last year alone, against growth of 20% across the FTSE 100.
However, there are reasons to be optimistic. First, chief executive Steve Rowe is rebalancing the company towards food and away from clothing, opening 200 Simply Food stalls and axing around 60 Clothing & Home outlets. Second, there's the dividend, currently yielding a juicy 5.7%, with solid and reassuring cover at 1.9 as well.
Cash is king
M&S is a strongly cash generative business, although do not expect a repeat of last year's special dividend, which saw the retailer return £74.5m to shareholders in the first half. Rowe has warned that the £500m company revamp and "uncertain market conditions" will prohibit further generosity for now. Still, 5.7% is still almost 23 times base rate and should do far more to protect your money against inflation than any savings account.
There is a third attraction to buying M&S right now -- its lowly valuation, which sees it trading at just 9.37 times earnings. Naturally, that reflects the many challenges facing both the company and its customers, as the UK economy slows. However, if it can build on its successful Q3 performance, which saw like-for-like sales up 1.3% over Christmas, it could merit a re-rating. You may have to be patient, but in the meantime, chew on that tasty income.
Energy giant SSE(LSE: SSE) has also delivered more income than growth over the years, and its share price has remained flat over the last 12 months. Few income seekers will complain about that, with the stock currently yielding 5.96%. History is also on their side, with the company having increased its dividend payout in every year since 2001. Such increases compound nicely over time, for example, in March 2012 the dividend was 80.10p but the 2019 forecast is 96.64p. While savings rates have steadily fallen, dividend payouts continue to rise.
That dividend is only covered 1.3 times, but management will do all it can to resist cutting. The board is currently targeting annual increases in line with the retail price index, which stood at 2.3% in February, and should protect the value of your payout from inflation.
Again, I do not expect too much share price growth, as SSE faces a volatile wholesale energy market and equally volatile weather patterns. Political pressure could reduce the scope for higher utility charges, although it will increase its gas and electricity rates to UK consumers by an inflation-thrashing 6.9% from 28 April. It's the income that really sizzles.
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Harvey Jones 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.