How important are dividends to a stock investor’s bottom line? Investment guru John Bogle addressed the financial industry regulator (FINRA) on October 15, 2007: “For the past 81 years … reinvested dividend income has accounted for approximately 95 percent of long-term returns generated by companies in the S&T. P 500. These astonishing numbers seem to require mutual funds to emphasize the importance of dividend income. “In other words, dividends are pretty important! Of course, the average stock of the S&P 500 currently only pays a dividend yield of 2%, which isn’t much. However, if you want to do better, the REIT sector is a great place to start your search for high yield dividend stocks. REITs are companies that acquire, own, operate and manage real estate portfolios, typically a combination of residential or commercial real estate or their related mortgage loans and mortgage-backed securities. Tax law requires these companies to return profits directly to shareholders, and most of them choose dividends as their preferred means of compliance, often resulting in high dividend yields across the industry. The slowly waning COVID pandemic has been tough on property managers as tenants struggled to earn rents and owners struggled to rent vacant space. However, BTIG analyst Tim Hayes believes there are reasons to be bullish on CRE real estate. “While we recognize headwinds for commercial real estate (CRE) fundamentals and the potential risk to equity / earnings power, we believe there are several reasons to be constructive, especially when the sector is at a discount to historical Trades level and offers attractive dividend yields with wide spreads at reference rates, “commented Hayes. With that in mind, we opened the TipRanks database to get the latest statistics on Hayes’ CRE choices. These are stocks for which the analyst has initiated buy ratings, which indicate their high dividend yield. We are talking about at least 9%. Ares Commercial Real Estate (ACRE) The first dividend pick we look at is Ares Commercial Real Estate, a company focused on the commercial real estate mortgage sector. Ares has a diversified portfolio of office space, apartments, hotels and mixed-use properties – mainly in the southeast and west. The company has invested over $ 2 billion in 49 separate loans, 95% of which are senior mortgage loans. In late October, the company released earnings for the third quarter of 20 (the most recent reporting quarter) with total revenue of $ 22.4 million, up 13% year over year. Earnings per common share of 45 cents increased by 40% compared to the previous year. In addition, Ares entered into a secured commercial real estate loan commitment of $ 667 million with increased funding of 23 senior loans. On the dividend front, Ares announced its dividend for Q420 in December. The payment of 33 cents per common share was paid on January 15th – and is fully covered by current income levels. At current rates, the dividend annualizes to $ 1.32 for an impressive 10.50% return. Among the cops is Hayes, who wrote, “We believe stocks of ACRE are unfairly discounted compared to other commercial mREITs due to strong Ares sponsorship, a very healthy balance sheet and limited exposure to at-risk assets.” In his opinion, the company is “well positioned to withstand the headwinds of COVID-19”. Consistent with these comments, Hayes is pricing ACRE as a buy and its target price of $ 13.50 implies an uptrend of 10% from current levels. (To see Hayes’ track record, click here.) Only one other analyst recently published an ACRE rating that also gave the stock a buy. This makes the analyst consensus here a moderate buy. The stock is priced at $ 12.28, and the average target price of $ 12.75 suggests modest growth of ~ 4%. (See ACRE stock analysis on TipRanks) KKR Real Estate Finance Trust (KREF) Next, we have KKR, which operates in the commercial real estate sector with nearly half of its holdings in the states of New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. The company owns and finances commercial real estate. 83% of its activities take place in residential buildings and offices in sought-after urban locations. The quality of KKR is evident in the company’s quarterly results. The liquidity position was strong – KKR reported $ 20,700.6 million at the end of the third quarter, which was reported in the most recent quarter. The EPS of 56 cents increased sequentially by 7% and compared to the previous year by 36%. Further evidence of KKR’s solid position came in early January when it was revealed that seven new commercial loans totaling $ 565.4 million had been closed in the fourth quarter. This level of activity is a clear sign that KKR is recovering from the pandemic-induced economic slowdown. The solid foundation enabled the company to continue its four-year reliable dividend. The most recent December statement referred to a dividend of 43 percent per common share, which was paid in mid-January. That rate translates into an annual payment of $ 1.72 per common share and a robust return of 9.7%. Regarding KREF, Hayes is most impressed with the company’s return to proactive lending: “We view fourth quarter 20 issuance as in line with pre-pandemic production, and show a shift from ‘defense’ to” Insult ”as transactional activity has picked up and capital markets remain accommodative. We expect more capital to be deployed to support profitability and dividend coverage and could potentially justify a dividend increase if the macroeconomic outlook improves. To this end, Hayes is giving KREF a buy and setting a target price of $ 19.50, which indicates growth of ~ 6% from current levels. (To see Hayes’ track record, click here.) Wall Street has been silent about anything KREF-related, and the only other recent review recommends a buy as well. Overall, the stock has a consensus rating for moderate buy. The average target price is 19.26 and implies a modest uptrend of ~ 5%. (See KREF stock analysis on TipRanks) Starwood Property Trust (STWD) For the third stock on Hayes’ shortlist, we’re turning to Starwood, a commercial mortgage REIT with a diverse portfolio of first mortgage and $ 50 million mezzanine loans $ 500 million reach. The company operates in the US and Europe, has a market capitalization of $ 5.9 billion and offices in New York, London and San Francisco. Starwood’s high-end portfolio has delivered solid profits even during the 2020 “corona recession”. The company posted GAAP earnings of $ 152 million for the third quarter of 20, representing a profit of 8% consecutive and 6% annualized profit over the year. Against this background, we can determine the company’s dividend, which has been constant at 48 cents per share for over two years. The last declaration was made in December and the dividend was paid on January 15th. At the current rate, it is annualized to USD 1.92 and the return is 9.23%. We’re again looking at a stock that Hayes recommends buy. “We see STWD as one of the few“ blue chips ”in the commercial mREIT sector because of its size, liquidity, world-class management team, strong balance sheet and diversified investment platform that has consistently achieved higher returns than comparable companies. To that end, STWD is one of the few commercial MREITs that has not restructured its liabilities with expensive rescue capital or cut its dividend since the beginning of COVID-19, “said Hayes. Overall, there is little action on the way from STWD right now, with only one other analyst getting involved to assess the company’s prospects. An additional purchase rating means that STWD qualifies as a moderate purchase. However, the average target price of $ 21 suggests stocks will remain tied to the range for the foreseeable future. (See STWD 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 analysts presented. 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.