Dividends beating bond yields by most in 15 years


Time to buy more stocks? More U.S. stocks are paying dividends that exceed bond yields than any time in the past 15 years, as profits rise at the fastest pace in two decades.

Kraft Foods and DuPont are among 68 companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index with payouts that top the 3.80 percent average rate in credit markets, based on data since 1995 compiled by Bloomberg and Bank of America.

One example: Johnson & Johnson sold 10-year debt at a record low interest rate of 2.95 percent last month, but its shares pay 3.68 percent.

The last time the number of S&P 500 companies paying dividends above the corporate bond rate approached the current level was in March 2003, according to Bloomberg News, just after the start of a bull market in which the equity index more than doubled over five years.