How to Double Your Income on This High-Yield Blue Chip
Pension funds are in the news again… and the news isn’t very good. Many plans are underfunded, which means they don’t have enough money to pay the benefits they’ve promised.
Among those many underfunded plans are funds managed by the city of Chicago, which were recently blocked by a court ruling that prevents them from reducing benefits. That means the city will need to find other ways to make up for its shortfall.
Chicago is not alone in its pension problems. Experts estimate pension funds across the country — both government-run plans and corporate plans run by large companies — are underfunded by trillions of dollars. That’s bad news for the plan participants.
It’s safe to assume experts’ original assumptions for these plans were overly optimistic. And in order to keep the promises these funds made to the hardworking men and women who paid into them so many years ago, the plan managers have two choices:
1. Find a way to come up with the money (increase the assets in the fund), or
2. Pay out less money to plan participants (cut or reduce benefits).
Really, there’s only one choice. Cutting or reducing benefits is an absolute last resort. (And in Chicago, it’s not even a possibility.) That means plans are left with finding a way to come up with enough money to continue making payments to participants.
One way plans can increase assets is by shooting for better returns. Since high-quality bonds pay next to nothing in our current low-yield environment (10-year U.S. Treasury notes yield less than 2%, for example), they’re stuck allocating more money to stocks, which carry a significantly higher amount of risk than bonds. While this is a risky strategy, pension plans don’t have much choice.
But pensions aren’t the only ones suffering from this conundrum.
In the current low-interest environment, the choices for income investors also seem unappetizing:
1. Move to riskier investments in order to generate an acceptable income stream, or
2. Accept a lower payout.
Neither is a particularly “good” option. But there’s a third choice — one that too few investors even consider.
3. Supplement your income by selling covered calls on high-quality stocks.
If you’re not familiar with the term “covered calls,” I’m referring to a conservative options strategy that lets investors earn income from stocks they already own.
See, many investors simply hold stocks in their investment accounts and hope that their dividends and capital gains will be enough.
But when you sell a covered call on a stock, you are paid cash upfront — money that goes straight into your brokerage accounts — by another trader for the opportunity to buy that stock from you at a higher price.
So, you get to generate income immediately, and then potentially sell your shares at a profit, while also collecting any dividends along the way.
You can use this strategy to generate extra money for day-to-day living costs. It can cover your monthly bills, medical expenses or even provide additional income for the things you otherwise may not be able to afford, like taking a nice vacation.
However you choose to use this money, it’s one of the most conservative ways to generate extra income from the stocks you already own.
One stock my Maximum Income readers and I have done this with recently is Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM). For those of you who are not familiar with Maximum Income, it is a service dedicated to helping investors generate steady income that ranges from hundreds to thousands of dollars each month.
Before my most recent recommendation, we held Philip Morris in the Maximum Income portfolio just two months ago. At that time, the shares were called away — i.e., the other trader exercised their right to buy the shares from us at a higher price — and we walked away with a 29% annualized return.
But now I see another great opportunity to establish a long-term position in PM, a blue-chip stock that boasts a 4.2% dividend yield at current prices. Add in another 4.4% in annualized income from selling covered calls, and we’ve set ourselves up with a long-term income stream that can consistently pay out almost 9% a year.
PM’s status as a high-quality dividend stock makes it the perfect vehicle for this strategy. Unlike some of its high-yield brethren — which pay out big dividends to make up for their high risk — Philip Morris is able to offer such an impressive dividend payment simply because there’s little need for investment in the cigarette business.
For example, Philip Morris is currently rolling out a “heat-not-burn” technology that offers nicotine in a less harmful way to consumers. So far, the company has spent an estimated $2.5 billion developing this new product — or less than 10% of the reported $26.8 billion it generated in sales over the past 12 months.
That’s a relatively small amount for a new product line, especially when you consider that the cost was spread across multiple years. And the technology represents one of the biggest changes in the industry in the past decade.
Because it doesn’t have to funnel all that money back into the company, Philip Morris dedicates most of its cash flow to rewarding shareholders with dividends and buybacks.
In fact, the company has paid a cash dividend to its shareholders every year since it was spun off from Altria Group (NYSE: MO) in 2008, and it has an equally long history of raising its payment every four quarters. This adds an extra layer of safety to the dividend’s status, as no member of current management will want to be the one responsible for ending that streak.
This dedication to dividends makes PM appealing to income investors seeking high-yet-safe yields, which should help provide support for prices at current levels. But as I mentioned, we can use a covered call strategy to turn it into a long-term position with the potential to double its yield.
Now, I won’t get into the particulars of the trade today. Just know that lofty, consistent income streams are possible in this environment — if you’re willing to try something new.
If you’d like to learn more about selling covered calls, I have put together a presentation that details how you can skim $850 a week from Wall Street using this strategy. Just think about how that kind of cash could change your day-to-day life or what kind of difference it could make in your retirement account.
So, if you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone just a bit, I can help you get started skimming your first $850 today. Just follow this link.