Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Telecom Stocks: the Forgotten Utilities

Telecommunication stocks seem to be the forgotten utility. Most income investors have filled their portfolio with electric utilities, natural gas utilities, and water utilities, which, in general, provide stability and steady income. Telecom stocks can help round out a utility portfolio.

Of course, telecoms can carry some risks: land lines are decreasing, cell phone usage is increasing, and more and more households are now using cell phones as their primary if not their only phone. The phone companies aren't standing still; they are pushing many other services in addition to the usual telephone services. Also, much of the negative news has already been built into the price of many of these stocks.

Many of these stocks have some decent yields, creating some interesting income opportunities. has turned up about a dozen of these telecom stocks yielding around 3% or more. As a matter of fact, six of the stocks yield more than 6%.

Alaska Communications Systems Group, Inc. (ALSK) is a provider of both wireless and landlines in the home state of Sarah Palin. The company has a market cap of $467 million, trades at 39 times forward earnings, and pays a generous yield of 8.2%. The operating cash flow of $93 million significantly covers the dividend payout of $38.3 million.

Another high paying telecom stock is CenturyLink, Inc. (CTL), with a 6.8% dividend payout. This Louisiana based company pays $833 million in dividends, easily covered by the $2.09 billion in operating cash flow. The market cap is $12.8 billion, with a forward PE ratio of 13.

Qwest Communications International Inc. (Q), one of the few stocks with a single letter stock ticker symbol, is a $9 billion market cap, a forward PE of 17, and a yield of 4.7%.

To see the rest of the high paying telecommunications companies, check out the free Excel database of high yield telecom stocks, at

Disclosure: Author did not own any of the above at the time the article was written.


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