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12 Dividend Stocks That May Be Income Traps

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The selloff in 2018’s final quarter left many great companies in beaten-down territory, pushing yields for some dividend stocks to near-record highs. And despite the recovery in 2019, many of these same stocks still sport yields that are far better than their historical averages.

But while some of these represent true bargains, some are dividend traps – high-yielding companies hampered by excessive risk and/or fading prospects. Dividend traps entice with rich yields almost like a siren song, only to disappoint later with dividend cuts.

Even well-known companies aren’t immune. Consider General Electric (GE), which once was among the bluest of blue chips but has slashed its payout twice in as many years. Another familiar name, Anheuser Busch InBev (BUD), halved its dividend in October because it had to deal with onerous debt.

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Unusually high yields can be a warning sign of a dividend trap, but they don’t have to be. For some real estate investment trusts (REITs) and other areas of the market, well-above-market yields are the norm.

But do watch out for factors such as overly leveraged balance sheets. Lenders, not equity holders, have a senior claim on company assets. So when interest rates rise high enough, companies may be forced to choose between dividends or interest payments. And of course, watch out for high payout ratios. Even the best-run businesses encounter obstacles, and companies that are really stretching their profits to fund the dividend might be forced to cut back when earnings thin out.

Here are 12 high-yielding dividend stocks that possess many characteristics of a trap. Some yield slightly better than the market average, while others are flashing yields well into the teens.

SEE ALSO: 14 Blue-Chip Dividend Stocks Yielding 4% or More

Data is as of March 4. Dividend yields are calculated by annualizing the most recent quarterly payout and dividing by the share price.

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