3 Top Dividend Stocks for 2014

If you're seeking some top dividend stocks for 2014, your portfolio will likely thank you. It's hard to beat the power of dividends, as they reward you regularly whether the market is heading up or down. Dividends make up a significant chunk of the overall market's return, and in 2013, nearly 3,000 companies in the U.S. stock market upped their payouts, versus only 299 reductions.

Perform a quick screen of stocks, and you'll come up with gobs of candidates for your portfolio. But here's a jump-start: three top dividend stocks for 2014 submitted for your consideration.

Safety Insurance isn't terribly exciting, but it's good at what it does -- providing auto insurance, primarily in New England, along with property and casualty insurance products, including commercial automobile, homeowners, fire, umbrella, and business owner policies. Safety Insurance's third quarter featured net income up 23.2% over year-ago levels, revenue up 5.7%, and net written premiums up 3.5%.

Safety Insurance's dividend yields 4.3%, and the company has increased that payout by 50% over the past five years. The payout ratio for the dividend is just 62%, meaning 62% of Safety's earnings go to the dividend, leaving room for further growth and some wiggle room, too, in case business falters for a while. Safety Insurance's forward P/E ratio of 13 compares favorably with the five-year average of 19, and its PEG ratio is an appealing 0.8 as well. Safety Insurance certainly looks like one of the top dividend stocks for 2014.

Seadrill is a deepwater drilling specialist that has been executing well and dominating its realm, in part by taking on a lot of debt. That worries some investors, but others take heart in its order backlog, which tops $19 billion. Seadrill's third quarter featured revenue rising 17% over year-ago levels and topping expectations but earnings falling a little short. One critical thing to know about Seadrill is that its fleet is more modern than those of its peers, and it also has more rigs under construction than some key rivals. That might lead to an oversupply problem if oil companies cut back on expenditures for a while, but Seadrill is positioned well for the long run.

Seadrill's dividend yields a hefty 9.5%, and its payouts are variable. Its payout ratio has varied widely and has recently been 77%, meaning that Seadrill's dividend has taken up 77% of its earnings, leaving room for further growth. Seadrill's forward P/E ratio of 9.3 is well below its five-year average of 11.8, and its PEG ratio is a promising 0.9. Seadrill is clearly another of the top dividend stocks for 2014.

Total SA is a France-based oil giant. It's positioned to profit from recent offshore discoveries near Cyprus and from growth projects it has been investing in, such as liquefied natural gas and shale fields in Britain. Total SA owns a majority stake in SunPower , too, which has been enjoying high demand for its panels and watching its profit margins rise. Bears worry about slowing growth, labor problems, geopolitical strife, and debt levels. For believers, though, Total SA sports an attractive valuation.

Total SA's dividend yields 5.4%, and it has also been variable from quarter to quarter. The payout ratio for the dividend has recently been 61%, meaning that 61% of Total SA's earnings have gone to its dividend, leaving room for further growth. Total's forward P/E ratio of 7.6 is well below its five-year average of 9.4, which is appealing, given its recently accelerating revenue growth. Total SA is a top dividend stock for 2014.

These are only some of the top dividend stocks for 2014. You can find plenty more on your own, and you might also want to check out articles by my colleagues such as Nicole Seghetti who have shared their suggestions for 2014's top dividend stocks.

Check out our analysts' favored dividend stocks
If you'd like to consider even more top dividend stocks for 2014, you're in luck. The Motley Fool's analysts have put together a free list of nine high-yielding stocks that should be in every income investor's portfolio. To learn the identity of these stocks instantly and for free, all you have to do is click here now.

The article 3 Top Dividend Stocks for 2014 originally appeared on Fool.com.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, owns shares of Seadrill and SunPower. The Motley Fool recommends Safety Insurance Group and Total SA. (ADR). It recommends and owns shares of Seadrill. 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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