Let’s talk about portfolio defense. After manipulating the Social Flash Mob Market for the past week, this topic should not be ignored. That doesn’t mean the markets will collapse. After falling 2% at the close of last week’s Friday session, this week’s trading started on a positive tone as the S&P 500 rose 1.5% and the Nasdaq rose 2.5%. The underlying bullish factors – a more stable political scene that steadily drives COVID vaccination programs – still play a role, even if not quite as strong as investors had hoped. While heightened volatility might linger with us for a while, it’s time to consider defensive stocks. And that will bring us to dividends. By providing a steady stream of income regardless of market conditions, a reliable dividend stock provides a pad for your investment portfolio when the stock ceases to appreciate. With that in mind, we used the TipRanks database to get three dividend stocks that yield 8%. However, that’s not all they offer. Each of these stocks received enough street praise to earn a consensus rating of “Strong Buy”. New Residential Investment (NRZ) First we examine the REIT sector, Real Estate Investment Trusts. These companies have long been known for dividends that are both high-yielding and reliable. Due to the company’s tax compliance, REITs are required to return a certain percentage of profits directly to shareholders. NRZ, a medium-sized company with a market capitalization of $ 3.9 billion, has a diverse portfolio of residential mortgages, original loans and mortgage loan service rights. The company is based in New York City. NRZ has a $ 20 billion investment portfolio that has generated dividends of $ 3.4 billion since its inception. The portfolio has proven resilient in the face of the corona crisis, and after a difficult first quarter last year, NRZ posted rising gains in the second and third quarters. The most recently reported third quarter showed GAAP earnings of $ 77 million, or 19 cents per share. This EPS was lower than in the previous year, but a strong trend reversal compared to the 21-cent loss reported in the previous quarter. The rising income has enabled NRZ to raise the dividend. The Q3 payment was 15 cents per common share; The dividend for the fourth quarter was increased to 20 cents per common share. At this rate, the dividend annualizes to 80 cents, making an impressive 8.5%. In a further move to return profits to investors, the company announced in November that it had approved $ 100 million in share buybacks. BTIG analyst Eric Hagen is impressed with New Residential – especially the company’s solid balance sheet and liquidity. “[We] like the ability to potentially build capital through retained earnings while maintaining a competitive payout. We believe the dividend increase will underscore the company’s liquidity position. We believe NRZ has been able to release capital because it has raised approximately $ 1 billion in securitized debt for its MSR portfolio through two separate transactions since September, ”said Hagen. In line with his comments, Hagen rates NRZ with a buy and its target price of $ 11 implies an upward movement of 17% for the coming year. (To see Hagen’s track record, click here.) It’s not often that all analysts agree on a stock. When this happens, take note of it. NRZ’s consensus rating for strong buy is based on unanimous 7 purchases. The stock’s average target price of $ 11.25 indicates an upward movement of ~ 20% from the current stock price of $ 9.44. (See NRZ stock analysis on TipRanks) Saratoga Investment Corporation (SAR) With the next stock we switch to the investment management area. Saratoga specializes in mid-market debt, capital appreciation and equity, with over $ 546 million in assets under management. Saratoga’s portfolio is broad, including industry, software, waste disposal and home security. Saratoga has seen a slow but steady recovery from the corona crisis. The company’s sales declined in the first quarter of 20 and have grown slowly since then. The third quarter fiscal year report released in early January contained $ 14.3 million. Adjusted for pre-tax taxes, Saratoga’s net investment income of 50 cents per share exceeded the 47-cents forecast by 6%. They say the race is slowly and steadily winning, and Saratoga has shown investors a generally stable hand over the past year. The stock has rallied 163% from its low after the corona last March. And the dividend, which the company cut in the second quarter, has increased twice since then. The current dividend of 42 cents per common share was declared for payment on February 10 last month. The annualized payment of $ 1.68 gives a return of 8.1%. The analyst Mickey Schleien from Ladenburg Thalmann is optimistic about Saratoga and writes: “We believe that the SAR portfolio is relatively defensive and focuses on software, IT services, education services and the CLO. SAR’s CLO remains up-to-date and the company is seeking refinancing / appreciation that we believe could positively affect our outlook. “The analyst continued,” Our model assumes that SAR will use cash and SBA debt to fund net portfolio growth. We believe the Board of Directors will continue to increase the dividend given the performance of the portfolio, the existence of undistributed taxable income and the economic benefits of the Covid-19 immunization program. “To this end, Schleien rates SAR a Buy along with a price target of USD 25. This number implies an upward trend of 20% from the current level. (To see Schleien’s track record, click here.) Wall Street analysts approve of Schleien on this stock. The other three registered ratings are buys and the analysts’ consensus rating is a strong buy. Saratoga’s shares trade for $ 20.87 with an average price target of $ 25.50, indicating an upward movement of 22% over the next 12 months. (See SAR stock analysis on TipRanks) Hercules Capital (HTGC) Last but not least, Hercules Capital is a venture capital company. Hercules provides early stage funding support to small client businesses with a scientific background. Hercules customers are life sciences, technology, and financial SaaS. Since its inception in 2003, Hercules has invested over $ 11 billion in more than 500 companies. The quality of the Hercules portfolio is evident from the company’s recent performance. The stock has fully rebounded from last winter’s corona crisis, rebounding 140% from its low last April. The result has also recovered. For the first nine months of 2020, HTGC posted net investment income of $ 115 million, or 11% more than the same period in 2019. For dividend investors, the key point is that net investment income covered the distribution – in fact, it was 106% of the Base distribution. The company was confident enough to kickstart sales with an additional 2 cents payment. The combined payout results in an annualized payment of $ 1.28 per common share and a return of 8.7%. In yet another vote of confidence, Hercules completed a $ 100 million investment-grade bond offering in November, raising capital for debt repayments, new investments and corporate purposes. The bonds were offered in two tranches, each valued at $ 50 million. The bonds mature in March 2026. Analyst Crispin Love covers Piper Sandler’s stock and sees plenty to love in HTGC. “We continue to believe that HTGC’s focus on fast-growing technology and life science companies positions the company well in the current environment. In addition, Hercules is not dependent on a COVID recovery as it does not invest in “vulnerable” sectors. Hercules also has a strong liquidity position which should allow the company to act quickly when it finds attractive investment opportunities, “commented Love. All of the above convinced Love to rate HTGC as an outperform (i.e. buy). In addition to the call, he set a price target of $ 16, indicating upside potential of 9%. (To see Love’s track record, click here.) The stock’s recent appreciation has pushed Hercules stock up to its average target price of $ 15.21 and up only ~ 4% above the trading price of $ 14.67 calmly. Wall Street doesn’t seem to mind, however, as the analyst consensus rating is a unanimous strong buy based on 6 recent buy-side ratings. (See HTGC stock analysis on TipRanks.) To find great ideas for trading dividend stocks at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, ‘a newly launched tool that brings together all of TipRanks’ stock insights. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the presented analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important that you do your own analysis before making any investment.