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Who among us can resist the allure of high-yield dividend stocks? Their outsized cash-generation capabilities make them the stuff of dreams for those living on a fixed income—as well as for any investors who simply want a little performance ballast during periods of rough stock-price returns.

Alas, simply targeting the fattest dividend yields on offer, and calling it a day, is often a recipe for disaster.

As Rush would say, “You don’t get something for nothing.” A stock offering several times more yield than the market average might very well be the undiscovered can’t-miss stock pick of the year … or it might be flashing a signal that many investors have passed it up for a reason. And sure, a very high yield can help make up for some underperformance in the stock price—but only if the dividend continues to be paid. However, some high-dividend stocks have unsustainable payouts that are just an earnings miss or economic downturn away from being cut.

None of this is to say you should run screaming from any stock offering an outsized payday. It’s just to say you shouldn’t buy them on yield alone—quality matters.

Today, I’ll examine a group of high-yield dividend stocks that are showing more signs of fundamental quality than most. Not only do they deliver much sweeter yields than your average stock, but they also have the confidence of Wall Street’s analyst community.

 

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute individualized investment advice. These securities appear for your consideration and not as personalized investment recommendations. Act at your own discretion.

Dividend Yields (And Dividend Safety)


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Dividend yield is a simple calculation—annual dividend / price x 100—that can mean a world of difference for investors, especially those reliant on income.

Consider this. Let’s say you have a $1 million nest egg heading into retirement. If your portfolio yields 3%, you’ll collect $30,000 in dividend and interest income each year. If it yields 6%, though, you’ll collect $60,000—a dramatically higher number that would change your retirement calculus.

But dividend yields can be deceiving. You see, a company can get a very high annual dividend yield in two very different ways: the dividend growing very rapidly, or the share price falling very quickly.

For example, Alpha Corp., which trades for $100 per share, pays a 75¢-per-share quarterly dividend, or $3 across the whole year. It yields 3.0%. In a month, however, it yields 6.0%. Here are two ways that could have happened:

  1. Alpha Corp. doubled its dividend to $1.50 per share quarterly, good for a $6-per-share annual dividend. The share price stays the same. ($6 / $100 x 100 = 6.0%)
  2. Alpha Corp. kept its dividend at 75¢ quarterly ($3 annually), but its share price plunged in half to $50 per share. ($3 / $50 x 100 = 6.0%)

In which scenario do you think the 6% yield is safer?

That’s why you should always be mindful of dividend safety, but especially when it comes to high-yield dividend stocks. That’s because oftentimes, the dividend is a more significant contributor to returns than price, so any danger to the dividend could undermine your investment thesis.

Thus, it’s vital that any high-dividend stocks you buy are financially stable and can generate substantial profits and cash, which is how the dividend gets paid. Among other things, you’ll want to look at payout ratio, which determines what percentage of a company’s profits, distributable cash flow, and other financial metrics (depending on the type of stock) are being used to finance the dividend. Generally speaking, the lower the payout ratio, the more sustainable the payout.

7 Highly Rated High-Yield Dividend Stocks


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Today, I’m going to look at several high-dividend stocks yielding at least 5%—a level that’s nearly four times what the S&P 500 offers currently, and that’s well above most traditional high-dividend ETFs. And in fact, the average dividend yield of this list is closer to 8%.

Every stock on this list also has a favorable view from Wall Street’s analyst community. The consensus analyst rating, courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence, is the average of all known analyst ratings of the stock, boiled down to a numerical system where …

  • Less than 1.5 = Strong Buy
  • 1.5-2.5 = Buy
  • 2.5-3.5 = Hold
  • 3.5-4.5 = Sell
  • More than 4.5 = Strong Sell

In short, the lower the number, the better the overall consensus view on the stock. In the case of this list, I’ve included only stocks that have received a 2 or lower—in other words, clear-cut Buys in the analysts’ eyes.

Importantly: These are the best dividend stocks among companies that pay pretty high yields, but that doesn’t make any pick here a no-brainer slam dunk. They all have a blemish or two—whether it’s significant stock weakness of late, interest-rate risk, tight dividend coverage, or something else—but to the pros, at least, their high yields, relative value, and/or growth potential make the risk worth taking. So if you’re going to jump into high-yield investing, just make sure you do so with your eyes wide open.

The equities here are listed in reverse order of their consensus analyst rating, starting with the worst-rated stock and ending with the best-rated stock.

 

Related: 17 Best Investment Apps and Platforms [Free + Paid]

High-Yield Dividend Stock #7: KeyCorp


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  • Industry: Regional banking
  • Market capitalization: $14.4 billion
  • Dividend yield: 5.4%
  • Consensus analyst rating: 1.91 (Buy)

Cleveland, Ohio-based KeyCorp (KEY) is the parent company of KeyBank—a “super-regional” bank with more than 1,000 branches serving 15 states across the Midwest, Northeast, and Northwest.

The bank itself features two segments—a consumer bank and a commercial bank—that allows it to participate in a wide variety of banking services. It offers everything from basic deposit accounts, credit cards, wealth management, and mortgages, to syndicated finance, commercial payments, commercial mortgage banking, and capital market products.

KeyCorp is coming off a difficult 2023 that saw shares smashed during the mini-regional bank crisis from earlier in the year. KEY wasn’t just dragged down because of sentiment—the bank struggled mightily with higher deposit costs and deep losses in its bond portfolio.

In 2024, it’s showing a lot more relative strength compared to its regional banking peers, and that’s despite weak full-year guidance for net interest income. (NII, the difference between the revenues it earns from lending products and what it pays on interest-bearing liabilities, is an important metric of bank profitability.) Regardless, analysts remain a lot more bullish than not, with 15 Buys versus eight Holds and no Sells.

“While significant macro uncertainties persist, we view risk/reward as attractive for investors looking to add exposure to regional banks,” say BofA Global Research analysts, who currently have a Buy rating on shares. Among the positives they took away from KeyCorp during their recent Financial Services Conference were “fewer rate cuts, below-average commercial real estate (CRE) exposure, and improving balance sheet positioning.” KeyCorp also sees opportunity in its West Coast markets and the potential for stronger-than-expected investment banking activity.

KeyCorp is also a noteworthy high-yield dividend stock within the regional banking industry. At nearly 6%, KEY’s payout is nearly double what you can get from the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE, 3.2% yield). The dividend looks pretty safe for now, even if it might be strained in 2024. Argus Research notes that KeyCorp has a long-term target dividend payout ratio of 40% to 50% of earnings. Weak earnings expectations for this year would put that number at about 70% in 2024, but should snap back into range should KEY hit more robust profit estimates for 2025.

Related: The 9 Best Dividend Stocks for Beginners

High-Yield Dividend Stock #6: American Healthcare REIT


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  • Industry: Healthcare REIT
  • Market capitalization: $1.7 billion
  • Dividend yield: 6.9%
  • Consensus analyst rating: 1.88 (Buy)

American Healthcare REIT (AHR) is a diversified healthcare real estate investment trust (REIT) with a heavy tilt toward senior care. The company boasts nearly 300 properties in 36 states, the U.K., and the Isle of Man. Those include 125 integrated senior health campuses (predominantly through a majority-owned subsidiary, Trilogy REIT), 90 medical office buildings, 66 senior housing properties, and a smattering of skilled nursing properties and hospitals.

If you’re not familiar with American Healthcare REIT, don’t worry—many investors probably aren’t. The shares are just a couple months removed from a February 2024 initial public offering (IPO), and the company itself has only existed in its current form for less than three years. AHR was formed by a complex deal in 2021 that saw Griffin-American Healthcare REIT III merge with Griffin-American Healthcare REIT IV, and saw the former also acquire the business and operations of both REITs’ co-sponsor, American Healthcare Investors.

The stock currently garners six Buys versus two Holds and no Sells. The modest crowd of covering analysts shouldn’t be a surprise—it’s a smaller REIT, for one, and it’s only been trading for a couple months. Still, the pros who do cover the stock like what they see, which is a play on the aging of the Baby Boom population.

“Demographic trends bode well for demand for such housing,” says BofA Global Research. “The 82+ population targeted by senior living operators is estimated to grow about six times faster than the overall U.S. population. AHR is well-positioned to capture this demand and drive earnings growth via its … exposure in senior housing operating assets and Trilogy.”

Real estate investment trusts are required to pay out at least 90% of their taxable income as dividends to their shareholders. As a result, the real estate sector tends to be chock full of high-yield stocks. But at 25¢ per share—the same level it was paying before going public—AHR offers a 7%-plus yield that’s several points better than the REIT average.

Dividend coverage is at least a near-term risk to watch, though. REITs’ payout ratios, which are linked to funds from operations (FFO, a REIT profitability metric) instead of net income like regular stocks, can be higher while still being considered safe. Even then, AHR’s payout ratio isn’t for the faint of heart. “We estimate that AHR’s dividend payout as a percent of AFFO [adjusted FFO] will be elevated in 2024 before falling to a more sustainable level in 2025,” says BofA, which projects a 2024 AFFO of 98.9% and a 2025 AFFO of 93.4%.

Related: 5 Best Fidelity Retirement Funds [Low-Cost + Long-Term]

High-Yield Dividend Stock #5: Pembina Pipeline


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  • Industry: Energy midstream
  • Market capitalization: $21.5 billion
  • Dividend yield: 5.4%
  • Consensus analyst rating: 1.82 (Buy)

Pipeline companies are a popular play among income hunters given the nature of their business.

Many traditional energy stocks are tightly tied to the price of oil, natural gas, and other underlying commodities—for instance, if the price of oil sinks, an oil producer will earn much less profit on the oil it’s producing. However, pipelines and other energy infrastructure companies are more like toll collectors, making their money when energy commodities flow through their systems. As a result, they’re somewhat less sensitive to energy-price swings. They’re also able to generate ample free cash flow, which is often used to fund generous dividend programs.

Pembina Pipeline (PBA) is one such pipeline play—a massive Canadian energy infrastructure firm whose assets include 18,000 kilometers of hydrocarbon liquids and natural gas pipelines, natural gas processing and NGL fractionation facilities, export terminals, and more. Most of its operations are located in British Columbia and Alberta, though its pipelines extend into the northern U.S.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Ben Pham, who rates the stock at Outperform (equivalent of Buy) and says shares offer “good value,” is among several analysts that are hot on Pembina’s prospects. He said the company’s fourth-quarter earnings, reported in February, “support our thesis that [Pembina] is one of the best positioned in our coverage to benefit from rising Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin volumes.” He also lauded new contracts expanding Pembina’s processing and ethane movement, “reinforcing the value of its integrated network.”

Pembina also recently expanded its operations by acquiring Canadian multinational Enbridge’s (ENB) interests in the Alliance, Aux Sable, and NRGreen joint ventures—a move that CFRA analyst Jonnathan Handshoe, who has a Hold rating on shares, views as positive. From a ratings standpoint, though, Handshoe is in the minority; PBA currently earns 12 Buys versus just five Holds and no Sells.

This high-dividend stock covers its payout well, too. For 2023, the payout was 73% of fee-based distributable cash flow (DCF), a common accounting metric among pipelines that helps determine the sustainability of a dividend.

Related: How to Get Free Stocks for Signing Up: 10 Apps w/Free Shares

High-Yield Dividend Stock #4: Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP


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  • Industry: Utilities and infrastructure
  • Market capitalization: $14.1 billion
  • Distribution yield: 6.4%*
  • Consensus analyst rating: 1.58 (Buy)

Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP (BIP) is a wide-ranging conglomerate of infrastructure spread across four continents. Its primary divisions include:

  • Utilities: 4,200 kilometers of natural gas pipelines, 2,900 kilometers of electricity transmission lines, 8.1 million electricity and nat-gas connections, and more.
  • Transport: 37,300 kilometers of rail, 3,300 kilometers of toll roads, 7 million intermodal containers, and more.
  • Midstream: 25,600 kilometers of gathering, transmission, and transportation pipelines, 570 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas storage and 5.7 bcf/day of natural-gas liquids (NGL) processing capacity
  • Data: 228,00 telecom towers, 54,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable, more than 135 data centers, 2 chipmaking foundries, and more.

While not a REIT, Brookfield Infrastructure uses FFO to measure its performance, and on that front, the company has not disappointed. Its FFO has grown by 15% annually on average since 2009; growth was slower in 2023, but at 9%, hardly anything to sneeze at. Better still, the vast majority (85%) of FFO is either protected from or indexed to inflation—a nice bit of defense.

Regardless, BIP units have lost more than 40% of their value since April 2022—shortly after the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates from their near-zero floor. That’s no coincidence; infrastructure plays suffer mightily from higher rates, as it raises their cost of debt. And in the case of higher-yielding plays like BIP, ramped-up rates also make bonds look much more attractive than BIP’s dividend from a risk-reward perspective.

But analysts have warmed to BIP units—and not just because the Fed is expected to start cutting rates sometime in 2024. “BIP remains one of our preferred ideas given the outlook for double-digit FFO/unit growth through 2025 (or longer), demonstrated progress towards its capital recycling targets, and an active acquisition pipeline,” says BMO Capital Markets analyst Devin Dodge, who rates units at Outperform. He represents one of 10 Buy-equivalent ratings on the stock—meanwhile, just two analysts call units a Hold, while no one has it at Sell.

Another sign of optimism for income investors: The company raised its payout by 8% in February, to 41¢ per unit—good for a 6%-plus yield at current prices. That puts its payout ratio around 70%, which is within its long-term target range, albeit on the upper limit.

You’ll probably notice that I’ve been referring to “units.” That’s because BIP is a master limited partnership (MLP), which trades like a stock but is internally organized differently. It also uses a few different terms. For instance, shares are “units,” and it pays a dividend-esque “distribution” that can be something of a hassle from a taxation standpoint, especially for novices. However, Brookfield is a rare bird in that it offers a way around this: Brookfield Infrastructure Corporation (BIPC) shares, which pay the qualified dividends you’re used to from normal stocks.

* Distribution yield is calculated by annualizing the most recent distribution and dividing by share price. Distributions are like dividends, but they are treated as tax-deferred returns of capital and require different tax paperwork.

 

Related: 15 Best Investing Research & Stock Analysis Websites

High-Yield Dividend Stock #3: Rithm Capital


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  • Industry: Mortgage REIT and alternative asset management
  • Market capitalization: $5.5 billion
  • Dividend yield: 8.8%
  • Consensus analyst rating: 1.58 (Buy)

Traditional REITs own physical properties, but there’s another kind of REIT—the mortgage REIT (mREIT)—that owns “paper” real estate.

A very cursory explanation: A mREIT will borrow money at short-term interest rates. It will take that money and buy mortgages, mortgage-backed securities (MBSes) and/or other mortgage-related securities. It will then earn income from the interest generated by these products—and use much of this profit to pay dividends to its shareholders. In fact, mREITs tend to have higher dividend yields than their traditional real estate cousins.

But given the nature of the business, mREITs are extremely sensitive to interest-rate changes, which can juice borrowing costs and crush the value of the assets they hold. Naturally, other economic factors can impact its holdings, such as housing trends and credit risk.

Rithm Capital (RITM), for example, invests in residential mortgage loans, mortgage servicing rights (MSRs), business purpose loans, and secured lending and structured products. But of late, it has also been aggressively extending its business into alternative investments. Here’s a quick breakdown of Rithm Capital’s acquisitive actions over the past year-plus, courtesy of Argus Research:

“RITM has acquired a 50% stake in GreenBarn Investment Group, a commercial real estate equity and debt investment management firm, purchased $1.4 billion of Marcus consumer loans from Goldman Sachs for $145 million, and agreed to the acquisition of Computershare Mortgage Services Inc. and certain affiliated companies, including Specialized Loan Servicing LLC (SLS), for approximately $720 million (the deal is expected to close in 1Q24). Its acquisition of $33 billion alternative asset manager Sculptor Capital Management was completed in 4Q23.”

The pros have been extremely receptive to the move—currently, 10 analysts have Buy ratings on the stock, versus a lone Hold and zero Sells.

“We believe that shares continue to provide an attractive combination of strong current returns plus upside optionality if the company is able to create value through growing as an alternative asset manager,” say Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analysts, who rate the stock at Outperform.”

And despite a 30%-plus run-up in shares over the past year, Argus’s Kevin Heal (Buy) feels Wall Street is still sleeping on the stock. “We believe that the market is undervaluing RITM’s book of mortgage servicing rights, future revenues from acquisitions and asset management fees,” he says.

Lastly, at nearly 9% in yield, RITM isn’t just the most generous dividend-paying stock on this list—it’s one of the highest-yielding dividend stocks you’ll come across period. That’s all the more impressive given RITM’s solid dividend coverage at current earnings levels.

Related: 7 Best Banks for Real Estate Investors + Landlords

High-Yield Dividend Stock #2: Energy Transfer LP


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  • Industry: Energy midstream
  • Market capitalization: $54.0 billion
  • Distribution yield: 7.9%
  • Consensus analyst rating: 1.53 (Buy)

Another high-yielding energy infrastructure play is Energy Transfer LP (ET), one of the continent’s largest midstream energy firms. The Dallas-based MLP’s assets include roughly 125,000 miles of energy pipelines and other infrastructure across 44 states, responsible for transporting and storing crude oil, natural gas, NGLs, and refined products. Its additional assets include a 34% stake in Sunoco LP (SUN), a 45% stake in USA Compression Partners LP (USAC), and Lake Charles LNG Company.

Energy Transfer has tacked on a few pounds over the past few months, courtesy of a $7.1 billion all-equity acquisition of Crestwood Equity Partners LP, which held gathering and processing assets in the Delaware, Powder River, and Williston basins. The company originally said it expected $40 million in annual cost synergies, though it has since updated that number to $80 million. Even that might be a conservative number; ET says that figure is “before additional anticipated benefits from financial and commercial synergies.”

It’s further fuel for a stock that has doubled the MLP benchmark coming out of the COVID bear-market bottom.

“Over the last several years ET has focused on reducing debt while finishing a campaign of large capital investments,” say Stifel analysts, who rate the stock at Buy. “With the upturn in the commodity environment and production on the rise across the US, Energy Transfer is poised to generate significant free cash flow. We believe investors will be well served by owning ET as demand for US energy increases around the globe.”

As for the distribution? For those who don’t remember, Energy Transfer chopped its payout in half in 2020 during the depths of COVID. However, it started a quarterly dividend growth streak in 2022—one that has persisted even after it surpassed post-COVID distribution levels in late 2023.

Energy Transfer says it’s committed to growing the distribution even more going forward, though it’s taking an understandably cautious approach, targeting 3% to 5% annual growth. Distribution coverage is plenty adequate; ET generated $970 million in excess cash flow after making its distributions last year, and Stifel sees that number growing to more than $1 billion in 2024.

Related: 9 Monthly Dividend Stocks for Frequent, Regular Income

High-Yield Dividend Stock #1: CTO Realty Growth


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  • Industry: Retail and mixed-use REIT
  • Market capitalization: $405.7 million
  • Dividend yield: 8.6%
  • Consensus analyst rating: 1.50 (Buy)

One of the highest-dividend stocks on this list is another REIT: CTO Realty Growth (CTO), which is a retail-oriented property owner. It holds a tight portfolio of 20 properties spanning 3.7 million square feet across eight Southeast and Southwest states.

It divides its portfolio into three types of properties: grocery-anchored retail, retail “power centers,” and retail-focused lifestyle and mixed-used properties. Its properties are also located in and near affluent areas—the portfolio average household income within five miles is $139,100—many of which are benefitting from booming population growth.

The company has actually existed in one form or another since 1902, and it has been paying dividends for nearly half a century. But it really put the pedal down on dividend payments when it converted into a REIT in 2020. The company paid 12¢ per share across 2019; in 2023, it paid $1.52.

Not that everything has been hunky-dory for CTO. The yield has rocketed from 6% to 9% in under two years in part because of dividend growth, sure, but also because shares have lost a quarter of their value over that time. CTO has been forced to lower rents on a few of its larger leases; it has also had to replace Regal Cinemas as a tenant in one of its properties, and WeWork, once its second-largest tenant, defaulted and filed for bankruptcy protection in late 2023.

And yet, the small group of six analysts who cover CTO Realty are overwhelmingly bullish, with five Buys versus just one Hold and no Sells. B. Riley Financial analyst John Massocca (Buy), for one, says the REIT is “well positioned to outperform today vs. peers,” expressing optimism over CTO’s 2024 guidance, the $20 million sale of a New Mexico property, and strong same-store net operating income (SSNOI) growth during the most recent quarter.

The dividend is still adequately covered, too. CTO provided 2024 AFFO guidance of $1.70 to $1.78 per share, which would translate to a payout ratio of less than 90% at the midpoint.

Related: 9 Best Real Estate Crowdfunding Sites + Platforms

If You’re Still Looking for High Yields, Consider Short-Term Alternative Investments


Alternative investments is a catch-all term for any investment that doesn’t fall into the categories of stocks, bonds, or cash. It covers a wide variety of investments, from real estate to fine art to sneakers, and it has become increasingly popular as fintech services have opened up once-restrictive markets to the individual retail investor.

Often, because of the less transparent nature of these investments, they’re limited toward investors with more financial resources and understanding, namely accredited investors. These investors meet certain financial requirements (or qualify with recognized credentials) and can gain access to investments that can offer compelling risk-reward characteristics.

Below, we highlight a few options that can also deliver high yields:

EquityMultiple’s Alpine Notes (Accredited investors only)

EquityMultiple’s Alpine Notes are a savings alternative with competitive rates of return on three-, six-, and nine-month notes, providing another means of conservative diversification and short-term yield. Compared to the commercial real estate crowdfunding platform’s other investment offerings, these notes are extremely short-term in nature, and thus an optimal choice for EquityMultiple users who want better liquidity.

Percent private credit (Accredited investors only)

Percent has built a way for retail accredited investors to access a wide range of private credit opportunities with a clear view into their performance through its innovative tools and comprehensive market data. That allows investors to make better-informed decisions, source and compare opportunities, and monitor performance with ease. This platform also provides access to an alternative investment that’s a little more liquid than other alts, with some debt investments only lasting nine months, with liquidity available after the very first month in some cases.

The service targets annualized returns on unsecured notes between 12% to 18% on average and up to 20%. And while investment minimums vary, many Percent opportunities require only $500 to invest.

First National Realty Partners (Accredited investors only)

First National Realty Partners (FNRP) is one of the fastest-growing vertically integrated commercial real estate investment firms in the United States. It’s also focused on a very particular niche: grocery-anchored commercial real estate.

FNRP’s team leverages relationships with top-tier national-brand tenants—including Kroger, Walmart, Aldi, Target, and Whole Foods—to provide investors with access to institutional-quality CRE deals both on- and off-market. FNRP offers private placements that only an accredited investor can access.

Kyle Woodley is the Editor-in-Chief of WealthUp. His 20-year journalistic career has included more than a decade in financial media, where he previously has served as the Senior Investing Editor of Kiplinger.com and the Managing Editor of InvestorPlace.com.

Kyle Woodley oversees WealthUp’s investing coverage, including stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, real estate, alternatives, and other investments. He also writes the weekly Weekend Tea newsletter.

Kyle spent five years as the Senior Investing Editor at Kiplinger, and six years at InvestorPlace.com, including two as Managing Editor. His work has appeared in several outlets, including Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, the Nasdaq, Barchart, The Globe and Mail, and U.S. News & World Report. He also has made guest appearances on Fox Business and Money Radio, among other shows and podcasts, and he has been quoted in several outlets, including MarketWatch, Vice, and Univision.

He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism … but he doesn’t necessarily care whether you use the “The.”

Check out what he thinks about the stock market, sports, and everything else at @KyleWoodley.