Preferred stocks can be a lucrative source of cash

— -- Q: Are there places online to get more information about preferred stocks?

A: Investors' quest for income continues. Any asset that throws off cash is getting a second look.

In addition to bonds and dividend-paying stocks, investors are seriously considering preferred stock. Preferred stock got some much-needed publicity during the financial crisis after both Warren Buffett and the U.S. government invested in it.

But despite the recent attention, preferred stock still remains the backwater of the investment world. Investors need to know how to dig deeper to find out about these widely-available but less obvious corporate investments.

Before I show you how to learn more about preferred stock, a quick explainer is in order.

Preferred stock is a very unique investment that shares some of the traits of common stock and some of the traits of bonds. Like bonds, preferred shares issue a preset and stable payment to investors. Preferred stock pays a dividend, and the yield is typically higher than what the same company pays to its common stock holders. However, like stock, preferred stocks' dividend can be suspended at any time. If that happens, companies must pay all the dividends they owe to preferred shareholders before paying a dime to common stock investors.

Given the lucrative streams of cash that can be generated by preferred stocks, investors understandably want to learn more. There are several excellent sources of information online, including:

• Winans International ( is a money management firm that has been researching preferred stocks for many years. Investors can find data on how preferred shares are doing as a group. Investors can see the Winans International Preferred Stock Index by clicking on the WIPSI tab. Winans International also produced a book on the topic, called: Preferred Stocks: the Art of Profitable Income Investing.

• PreferredsOnline ( provides news and information about preferred stocks. You'll also find tips and pointers for investors interested in experimenting with preferred stock.

• QuantumOnline ( allows you to look up individual preferred stock securities. There's also information about the preferred stock universe.

• ( gives details about individual preferred securities. If you know the name of the preferred stock or the symbol, you can enter the identifiers into the Get a Quote box. You'll find all the pertinent details about the preferred shares, including price history and dividend information.

Matt Krantz is a financial markets reporter at USA TODAY and author of Investing Online for Dummies and Fundamental Analysis for Dummies. He answers a different reader question every weekday in his Ask Matt column at To submit a question, e-mail Matt at Follow Matt on Twitter at: