October 05, 2011 at 08:44 AM EDT
4 Investments to Make a Battered Housing Market Pay Huge Dividends
Your best dividend investment right now could be in the real estate market. These stocks' payouts provide a buffer to weak performance -- and if housing market turns, you'll be in the driver's seat.

The housing market is battered, to say the least. Many investors wouldn’t even dream of getting into real estate right now — no matter how low interest rates go or how far home prices already have fallen from the days before the financial crisis.

But if you’re one of those folks who thinks that housing has nothing to offer, think again. Your best dividend investment right now could be in the real estate market.

No, I’m not talking about buying a home and making it a rental. (Though admittedly, I truly think that the best investment to buy right now is a house if you’re in the right market, have a long-term investing horizon and have very great credit.) I’m talking about investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts — dividend powerhouses that by law must deliver 90% of their taxable income back to shareholders.

If you can’t stomach the idea of buying a home, take a look at these four REITs that offer fantastic dividend yields right now — and the prospect of share appreciation to boot:

Annaly Capital
  • Segment: Mortgage loans
  • Market Cap: $15.3 billion
  • Dividend Yield: 15%

A disclaimer up front: You’re taking the tiger by the tail with this stock right now. Annaly Capital (NYSE:NLY) shares are off almost 10% in two days thanks to fear that broader trouble in the financial sector will infect even cash-rich REITs and on rumors that troubled European lenders also could have a connection to these mortgage investment firms. But on the plus side, rock-bottom long-term rates thanks to the Fed’s “Operation Twist” allow Annaly access to super-cheap capital to fund its mortgage business.

Annaly is the biggest and most liquid player in the mortgage REIT space, with a long history and great fundamentals. Its revenue is above pre-recession levels and it has been profitable in every fiscal year across the financial crisis. Although its dividend can fluctuate fairly significantly from quarter to quarter, the payouts always equate to a huge yield — currently just over 15%! And consider this: The lowest dividend in the past five quarters was 60 cents per share, and NLY has a 52-week high of $18.79. Doing the math on the lowest dividend and highest share price in the past year, you “only” get a 12.8% yield. If that’s the worst you can expect, most investors will take that to the bank every time.


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