Looking at the universe of stocks we cover at Dividend Channel , in trading on Friday, shares of Wells Fargo & Co. (Symbol: WFC) were yielding above the 3% mark based on its quarterly dividend (annualized to $1.50), with the stock changing hands as low as $49.98 on the day. Dividends are particularly important for investors to consider, because historically speaking dividends have provided a considerable share of the stock market's total return. To illustrate, suppose for example you purchased shares of the S&P 500 ETF ( SPY ) back on 12/31/1999 - you would have paid $146.88 per share. Fast forward to 12/31/2012 and each share was worth $142.41 on that date, a decrease of $4.67/share over all those years. But now consider that you collected a whopping $25.98 per share in dividends over the same period, for a positive total return of 23.36%. Even with dividends reinvested, that only amounts to an average annual total return of about 1.6%; so by comparison collecting a yield above 3% would appear considerably attractive if that yield is sustainable. Wells Fargo & Co. (Symbol: WFC) is an S&P 500 company, giving it special status as one of the large-cap companies making up the S&P 500 Index.
In general, dividend amounts are not always predictable and tend to follow the ups and downs of profitability at each company. In the case of Wells Fargo & Co., looking at the history chart for WFC below can help in judging whether the most recent dividend is likely to continue, and in turn whether it is a reasonable expectation to expect a 3% annual yield.
According to the ETF Finder at ETF Channel, WFC makes up 10.91% of the iShares U.S. Financial Services ETF (Symbol: IYG) which is trading lower by about 0.5% on the day Friday.