I've said it at least a hundred times, and I'll say it at least a hundred more... the vast majority of the world's best high-yield stocks are NOT based in the United States...
Don't believe me?
Consider this... Of the 244 companies that pay dividend yields of more than 12%, only 17 of them are based in the U.S. Although the number fluctuates daily, that means roughly 92% of the world's highest yields are found outside the United States.
Unfortunately, most investors don't consider foreign stocks when they're looking for dividend investments. They automatically dismiss other countries as "risky" and "unproven."
That's a mistake. Just because a company is located outside the U.S., it doesn't mean it's risky. In fact, sometimes investing in foreign countries can actually be safer than investing here at home.
Let's face it, the past 12 years hasn't been kind to American equities. In the dozen years ended September 30, 2012, the S&P 500 returned just 20%, including dividends. That's equivalent to a pathetic 2% annualized return -- not even enough to keep pace with inflation.
Meanwhile, problems in Washington are only making matters worse. A ballooning national debt, the "fiscal cliff," and billions of dollars in additional monetary stimulus have plagued the U.S. over the past few years.
That's one reason Standard & Poor's decided to cut the United States' coveted AAA credit rating last August. After the downgrade, the U.S. now sports a credit rating of AA+, the same rating as France and Austria.
But while the U.S. government has struggled to rein in the out-of-control deficit spending that led to the downgrade, 13 other large countries across the globe have managed to keep their AAA rating intact.
Of course, credit ratings aren't everything. And two of the ratings agencies, Fitch and Moody's, still designate the U.S. as an AAA rated country. But it just goes to show there are plenty of other countries out there that are doing something right.
And right now, one of these countries is home to the some of the best performing and highest yielding stocks on the planet.
I'm talking about Canada.
You see, while U.S. investors have endured lackluster returns since start of the new millennium, Canadian stocks have soared -- returning more than 180%, or 8.5% annualized, since January of 2000.
One of the reasons Canada has performed so well lately is that it has enjoyed significant economic advantages over its southern neighbor.
For one, even though both countries suffered downturns recently, Canada saw a much stronger snap-back in the six quarters after the 2007-2009 recession -- posting average annualized GDP growth of nearly 3.5%, compared with less than 2.5% in the United States.
And then there's the government. Right now, Canada's fiscal situation looks a lot more stable than that of the United States. According to the most recent data, U.S. government debt to GDP has exploded to 103%. Meanwhile, Canada's debt to GDP ratio currently stands at just 33%.
But my favorite part about Canada is the dividend yields. On average, Canadian companies pay yields of 3.0% -- compared to just 2.1% for companies here in the U.S.
For example, consider one of my favorite Canadian plays, Whistler Blackcomb Holdings (TSX: WB) -- a real estate investment trust that owns two resort properties in southern Canada.
Right now, Whistler Blackcomb pays a steady dividend yield of 8.3%. By comparison, Host Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: HST), an American REIT that owns luxury resorts throughout the U.S., pays a paltry 2.2% yield.
And not only does Whistler Blackcomb pay a higher yield, it's also been a better performer. Since the beginning of the year, Whistler Blackcomb has returned close to 22%, compared to a -14% loss for Host Hotels.
Of course, one example is hardly enough to prove my point. If you'd like even more evidence as to why foreign stocks offer better income opportunities than their U.S. counterparts, you can see my company's latest research report here.
But it just goes to show that when it comes to dividends, the U.S. is by no means king. There are dozens of other countries out there, just like Canada, that are paying stable dividend yields... handing investors steady growth... and are just as safe -- if not safer -- than the United States.
So just because a company isn't based in the U.S., don't automatically dismiss it as a "risky" growth stock. If you're ignoring some of the high yielders that can be found in foreign markets, then you could be missing out on some of the market's biggest income opportunities.
[Note: For more information about international dividend-payers, make sure to watch StreetAuthority's latest presentation, Forget Treasuries: Buy These 12% Yields Instead. In it, I've given you a few names and ticker symbols of some of my favorite international plays right now. I've also included the full list of 17 U.S. stocks yielding over 12%. For more information, follow this link now.]
All the best,
StreetAuthority Co-founder, Chief Investment Strategist -- Top 10 Stocks
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Disclosure: Neither Paul Tracy nor StreetAuthority own shares of securities mentioned in this article. In accordance with company policies, StreetAuthority always provides readers with at least 48 hours advance notice before buying or selling any securities in any "real money" model portfolio. Members of our staff are restricted from buying or selling any securities for two weeks after being featured in our advisories or on our website, as monitored by our compliance officer.