To get more yield, you generally have to take on more risk. But in the case of dividend-paying stocks, that may not always be the case. Some high-yielders, such as AT&T (symbol T; recent price, $38; yield, 4.7 percent), Verizon Communications (VZ; $50; 4.1 percent) and Intel (INTC; $21; 4.2 percent), are financially strong companies that have the wherewithal to sustain their payouts.
Jason Brady, of Thornburg Investment Management, favors telecom companies because of the rapid growth of smart phones. One of his favorites is Telstra (TLSYY; $24; 6.0 percent), a leading Australian provider. We took a page from his book: iShares International Select Dividend ETF (IDV; 5.2 percent) tracks an index that includes 100 high-yielding stocks in developed foreign markets.
Bonds in developing countries are paying yields of more than 4 percent these days. T. Rowe Price Emerging Bonds (PREMX; 4.3 percent) and Fidelity New Markets Income (FNMIX, 4.3 percent) hew closely to a JPMorgan emerging-markets bond index. Aberdeen Asia-Pacific Income (FAX; 5.4 percent), a closed-end fund, focuses on Australian and Asian debt.
You can't talk about this yield range without mentioning junk bonds. A key benchmark, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch High Yield Master II index, currently yields 5.9 percent. Wells Fargo Advantage High Income (STHYX; 4.0 percent) yields less because of expenses and because it is more conservatively managed than many junk funds. Still, High Income beat its typical peer over the past three years, with a 10.3-percent annualized return -- and it did so with less volatility. The biggest junk-bond ETF is iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond (HYG;, 4.9 percent). It charges annual fees of 0.50 percent.
Finally, real estate: Health Care REIT (HCN; $70; 4.4 percent), a real estate investment trust, and CBRE Clarion Global Real Estate Income (IGR; $10; 5.7 percent), a closed-end fund, offer exposure to two growing areas of the sector. The growth catalyst behind HCN is the firm's senior-living communities. CBRE is a real estate firm whose assets are mostly invested in North America (59 percent), but which has a chunk across Asia (29 percent), making it a good bet for cashing in on rising consumer wealth in that region. The fund recently traded at a 4-percent discount to net asset value.
(Nellie S. Huang is a senior associate editor at Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit http://www.Kiplinger.com.)