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3 Dividend-Paying Tech Stocks to Buy in March

Motley Fool - Sat Mar 16, 6:41AM CDT

Tech stocks are not known for their top-notch dividend policies. Many companies in this sector are busy inventing tomorrow's technologies, often prioritizing reinvestment over distributing cash profits through dividends.

Let me paint a picture for you. There are 2,457 stocks trading on American stock exchanges with a market cap of at least $1 billion, according to Finviz. Of them, 1,504, or 61%, offer some sort of dividend payout.

Narrow your view to the tech sector, and you'll find 111 dividend payers out of 373 billion-dollar companies. Only 30% of these companies offer any dividends at all.

The gap grows even wider if you're looking for generous dividend policies, too. Thirty-five percent of all billion-dollar companies provide an annual dividend yield of at least 2%. In the tech sector, the group of 2% yields shrinks to just 29 names, or 8% of the sector.

That being said, it's not impossible to find great dividend payers in the metaphorical Silicon Valley. Some of those 29 names are absolutely fantastic income investments right now.

Let me show you three of my favorite ideas in that category. Savvy income investors can set up an effective dividend portfolio around semiconductor veteran Texas Instruments(NASDAQ: TXN), artificial intelligence (AI) expert IBM(NYSE: IBM), and materials science innovator Corning(NYSE: GLW).

Texas Instruments yield: 3%

Legendary chipmaker Texas Instruments has a long history of shareholder-friendly dividend payouts. The company sent its first dividend checks in the spring of 1962. The annual payouts have increased in every year since 2004.

Semiconductor companies tend to be very cyclical. Each sector member's key products face sharp swings in demand as they often focus on hyper-specific end markets.

But TI gets around. It generated 40% of its 2023 revenue from industrial customers and 34% from automotive clients. Personal electronics and communications equipment also made significant contributions to the company's top line. Moreover, TI makes both analog and digital chips, widening its exposure to different contract opportunities even within any particular target industry.

And don't forget that the company runs its own manufacturing facilities, too. When fabless chip designers compete for production capacity at one of the industry's third-party manufacturing giants, TI can just get to work with its own chipmaking machinery. So TI's diverse clientele buffers it against sector-specific downturns, unlike many of its peers.

And this paragon of business stability isn't even expensive. The stock has traded sideways over the last year, missing out on the tech sector's artificial intelligence (AI) boom. As a result, the effective dividend yield has soared to 3%.

Sure, TI's stock is down for a reason -- it ran into a rare tag-team attack as both automakers and industrial computing giants are holding back their infrastructure investments at the same time. But these paired market weaknesses won't last forever. You should consider locking in those juicy yields while they last, because TI will surely come back swinging when the global economy finally gets over the inflation-based flu.

Corning yield: 3.4%

The company behind the namesake glass-ceramic cookware has moved on to more advanced materials. You'll find Corning's hardened Gorilla Glass covering the screens on most smartphones nowadays, not to mention both the windshields and internal glass panels in modern cars. And fiber-optic cables accounted for $4 billion of top-line sales last year, or roughly one-third of Corning's total revenue.

Like Texas Instruments, Corning is resistant to single-industry downturns. Both companies were caught by multiple sector challenges, and Corning's stock is also back almost exactly where it was a year ago.

Its effective dividend yield is even richer at 3.4%. Smartphone sales can't stay slow forever, and the auto industry can't wait to take advantage of pent-up demand for modern vehicles whenever the interest rates on car loans start sliding down again. And the coronavirus pandemic halted the global expansion of 5G networking in its tracks, setting another important Corning market up for a strong upswing someday soon. Yes, high-speed wireless networks usually rely on even faster fiber-optic connections to the worldwide internet.

From cookware to cutting-edge networking and digital screens, Corning continues to innovate.

So Corning is also set up to recover over time, likely softening those robust dividend yields in the process. That's just how the math works -- higher buy-in prices result in weaker yields from the same dividend checks. That's why I recommend locking in the generous yields on Corning and Texas Instruments while they last.

IBM yield: 3.4%

Finally, you already missed the best possible time to lock in IBM's strongest yields, but Big Blue's stock should still deliver both strong price gains and robust dividends for years to come.

IBM's stock has gained nearly 60% over the last year. The strategy shift that started under CEO Ginni Rometty a decade ago is finally paying dividends, literally and metaphorically.

This company was a bit late to the AI party due to its unshakable focus on enterprise-class business solutions. IBM's Watson AI platform has been around for years, harking back to the Deep Blue chess computer that defeated world champion Garry Kasparov in a game-changing 1997 match.

Prospective customers in this category are rarely free to simply jump on the next red-hot bandwagon. New solutions must go through a gauntlet of performance, security, and cost-efficiency tests. Any large-scale deal may require signatures from multiple levels of management. But when that time-consuming process is completed, IBM ends up with a multiyear contract and a burly helping of customer loyalty. Replacing a system that cleared every hurdle will be even tougher.

So you're catching IBM in the early stages of an active upswing. The AI-driven success that inspired a 10% stock price jump the day after its latest earnings report should accelerate in 2024 and beyond. Thanks to the harsh reality of dividend calculations, a rising stock price will dilute IBM's muscular 3.4% yield over time.

Time in the market is always more important than timing the market, though. In other words, it's not too late to grab a few IBM shares in preparation for an AI-driven surge in the next few years. It may take decades before you see a 3.4% yield on new IBM investments again.

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Anders Bylund has positions in International Business Machines. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Texas Instruments. The Motley Fool recommends Corning and International Business Machines. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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