What Is Widow-and-Orphan Stock?

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Widow-and-orphan stock generally refers to a low-risk equity investment paying a high dividend. These stocks belong to large, mature companies in non-cyclical business sectors. Because of their low risk and high dividends, widow-and-orphan stocks can be attractive to investors looking for steady income.

What Is Widow-and-Orphan Stock and How Does It Work?

Stocks deemed “widows” and “orphans” can weather turbulent economic conditions, generating a steady stream of income for those who are most vulnerable, like widows and orphans — hence the term “widow-and-orphan stock,” coined during The Great Depression of the 1930s.

These stocks are linked to mature companies with solid market positions, capable of paying high dividends. These companies are typically in well-established industries, like utilities, consumer staples, or telecommunications. They enjoy steady cash flow patterns, generate consistent earnings, and have a strong market share with little to no competition. Because of this, they often pay out high dividend yields even when markets are experiencing low growth rates.

Widow-and-orphan stocks typically maintain dividend payments to shareholders even through difficult financial times, especially in bear market conditions.

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Pros and Cons of Widow-and-Orphan Stocks

The term “widow-and-orphan stock” isn’t as popular as it once was. Nowadays, these stocks are simply called “low-volatility investments” and have a beta meaningfully below.

Due to their low-risk nature, widow-and-orphan stocks can offer stability in a portfolio and generate steady income. Another benefit is that many of these companies have a long history of paying dividends, making them attractive to investors looking for income. Additionally, these stocks are typically less volatile than the overall market, making them a good option for investors looking to limit their risk.

On the downside, some investors view these stocks as unexciting. Because many of these companies are part of mature industries, there’s less potential for future growth. That means there isn’t much room for expansion within the company’s sector or the overall industry.

Also, while widow-and-orphan stocks should be able to weather the most turbulent of market conditions, history has shown that these stocks cannot avoid specific risks during difficult economic times. For example, if a fast-moving consumer goods company faces a significant lawsuit, it can still experience losses — and its shareholders will be on the receiving end of those losses.

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How To Decide if Widow-and-Orphan Stocks Are Right for You

Because widow-and-orphan stocks typically belong to large, well-established companies with a long history of paying dividends, this type of investment is typically good for investors who are looking for stability and consistent income. 

Widow-and-orphan stocks may also be attractive to those looking at more than just market performance. These investments typically continue to deliver high dividend yields even when markets are experiencing low growth rates.


Stocks deemed “widows” and “orphans” are sound investment strategies for any portfolio. By buying stocks that are less likely to be affected by volatile market conditions, investors can help protect their portfolios from significant losses.

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About the Author

Kiran Shahid has over 8 years of experience in copywriting and has worked for various clients across the globe. With certifications from Digital Marketer and a master's degree in Entrepreneurship, she has been able to implement creative ideas and innovative strategies for her clients. Kiran has a knack for creating captivating content with an engaging tone of voice. In her spare time, she loves to travel and try different cuisines.
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