Can You Count on Merck's Dividend?

Can You Count on Merck's Dividend?

If you're looking for great dividends to anchor your portfolio, the health care sector's a great place to start. Big pharma's top stocks offer top dividend yields with a punch -- but not all dividend stocks are made the same.

Merck sports a solid 3.6% dividend yield, but is this high-paying pick as good as it looks? The company has struggled with declining sales in recent quarters as patent expirations on high-profile drugs have taken some of the shine off Merck's luster. Singulair, Merck's top-selling drug as recently as the first half of last year, has seen its first-half sales in 2013 plummet by more than 75% year-over-year. That's the kind of loss that no investor likes to see, from those watching Merck's dividend to those interested in great growth opportunities.

But Merck isn't one of big pharma's best for no reason. Is this stock's strong dividend worth it for your portfolio? Below, Motley Fool contributor Dan Carroll takes you through how Merck's declining results have affected its appeal for income investors -- and whether you should still believe in this pharmaceutical giant.

One of the best parts of owning big pharma stocks like Merck is their attractive dividends, but smart investors know the importance of diversifying -- seeking high-yielding stocks from multiple industries. The Motley Fool's special free report "Secure Your Future With 9 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks" outlines the Fool's favorite dependable dividend-paying stocks across all sectors. Grab your free copy by clicking here.

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Fool contributor Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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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