Jeremy Siegel on Why You Need Dividends

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No money for you! The dividend payout ratio -- the percentage of net income paid out to investors as dividends -- has slid to the lowest level in recorded history, less than half of where it stood for most of the past century. If the ratio returned to its historic average, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) would yield more than 5%, up from 2.5% today.

That decline hasn't been good for investors. History makes clear that companies that pay higher dividends produce, on average, greater shareholder returns. That's one reason dividend achievers like Altria (NYS: MO) and Coca-Cola (NYS: KO) have crushed the broader market average over time.

In an interview earlier this month, I sat down for a wide-ranging interview with famed Wharton finance professor Jeremy Siegel. Here's what he had to say about the decline in the dividend payout ratio, and why investors should still love high dividend-paying stocks.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorMorgan Houselowns shares of Altria. Follow him on Twitter, where he goes by@TMFHousel.The Motley Fool owns shares of Altria Group and Coca-Cola.Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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