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Income Investors Should Take Action

Dec 30, 2007
The Federal Reserve cut interest rates again yesterday and will be likely to do so again in six weeks. Yields on 5-year Certificates of Deposit are down to around 4.25% and falling. On top of that, the mortgage meltdown has hindered the performance of the entire stock market. If you are retired and need your investments to generate income you don't have to settle for these paltry rates and dismal returns. Read on to learn how you can get rates that are double that!

I have written several articles on various types of investments that can generate a dependable income stream that is far higher than that paid by certificates of deposit. I've talked about income deposit securities, closed-end funds, regional telephone companies and Canadian income trusts in previous articles. Keep in mind that these types of investments aren't guaranteed by the government and their share value will fluctuate from day to day.

Closed-end funds make attractive income-oriented investments. Think of a closed-end fund as a pool of underlying investments. Those underlying investments can be U.S. corporate bonds, foreign bonds or even stocks. Something unique to closed-end funds is that they don't always trade at the same price as the underlying value of what they own.

For instance, a closed-end bond fund may own a pool of bonds that, if sold that day, would be worth $10 per share. Those shares don't always trade at $10. They can trade above or below that price at a premium or a discount to the fair market value of what it owns. Currently, high-quality closed-end funds that previously were trading at a premium are now trading at a discount. Some have discounts of 10% or more.

One reason why I particularly find select closed-end funds attractive is because the share price has been declining much faster than the value of the underlying securities. To me, this is an indication that the decline is a result of investor panic, not the underlying fundamentals of the fund. The yields on attractive closed-end funds have increased 2-3% with many yielding in the 9-10% range.

I also like the stocks of select regional telephone companies. Studies have been done that show how stocks paying dividends tend to out-perform those that don't over longer periods of time. That's because companies that pay dividends tend to be older and are in industries where their cash flow is more dependable.

These telephone companies have a steady, stable and growing cash flow. Think about it. Every month you pay your phone and cable bill. Things would have to get pretty bad before people allow their phone and cable to be shut off. Recent market fears have even caused the price of these stalwarts to decline. That means you can now get yields close to 10%--or even higher.

Canadian Trusts are popular among those seeking higher dividend yields. These investments are out of favor due to changes in Canadian tax laws. Those laws don't take effect until 2011 though, and even then will only have a limited impact on certain trusts. Yet the share prices of all of the trusts have declined as much as those trusts that are adversely affected. That means that high quality trusts with healthy and growing underlying businesses are paying unbelievable yields.

A company that prints telephone directories is now yielding over 7.5% and has already increased their dividend this year. There are trusts in the oil and gas sector that have shown they can weather the stress of low natural gas prices. Some are paying over 10%--some even 15%---and still they are only paying out 70-80% of the money they have available for dividends.

The key with all investments like these is to own several of them to reduce your risk. The prices will fluctuate. The prospects of individual companies can change. That's why I use groups of these in my clients, portfolios. For instance, my growth stock portfolio may utilize 10-15 different positions like those mentioned here.

So while everyone else is in a panic and rushing for the exits, I am using this opportunity to pick up investments that will give my clients a steady and growing source of income for years to come.
About the Author
Nationally-syndicated financial columnist and Certified Financial Planner(R) Jeffrey Voudrie provides personal, in-depth money management services and advice to select private clients throughout the USA. He'll answer your financial question FREE at http://www.guardingyourwealth.com.
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