Cablevision shareholders make out best of the lot

When Apple announced last month it would begin paying a dividend, the investment world took notice. The $9.9 billion in annual cash to shareholders makes the company the second-largest dividend payer in the S&P 500.

But individual shareholders are more interested in a stock’s yield — the ratio of dividend to stock price. At the closing price on March 19, the day Apple announced, the stock yielded 1.8%, slightly under the market’s average of 2.1%.

For investors seeking yield, are entertainment companies the answer? Probably not. Among S&P 500 companies in the broadcasting, cable & satellite, and movie & entertainment industries, only five had higher yields than Apple on March 19.

Viacom matched the index yield, while the other four (Cablevision Systems, Comcast, Time Warner and Time Warner Cable) exceeded it. At 4.1%, Cablevision led that yield field; but the reason is price decline. Immediately after the spinoff of AMC Networks last summer, Cablevision stock sold for $25.96 and yielded 2.3%. The dividend rate is the same, but the stock fell to $14.74.

Showbiz stocks tend not to be standouts when it comes to regular dividend increases. Not a single one has increased shareholder payments annually for 10 or more years. Among the stocks here, Comcast has the best record, with annual increases since it began paying in 2008.

Higher-yielding showbiz stocks

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