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Retirees: Is RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust or BCE Inc. a Better Income Pick Today?

Canadian pensioners are searching for top income stocks to help them boost the yield in their TFSA holdings.

Let’s take a look and RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:REI.UN) and BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) (NYSE:BCE) to see if one is more attractive right now.

RioCan

RioCan owns about 300 Canadian shopping malls.

The company’s anchor tenants are established brands in the grocery, pharmacy, discount goods, or home care segments, which tend to be recession resistant.

These companies are also at limited risk of being put out of business by online shopping. In fact, some have embraced the internet and are seeing strong success with shoppers ordering their products from home and then picking them up at the store.

RioCan sold off its 49 U.S.-based properties earlier this year for net proceeds of $1.2 billion. The funds were partly used to lower the company’s debt load, and RioCan now sports the lowest leverage in its history. This is important because REITs tend to carry significant debt, and that becomes an issue when interest rates begin to rise.

The remaining cash from the sale is being directed at investment opportunities, including new retail developments and a plan to build residential units at some of the top urban sites.

RioCan pays a monthly distribution of $0.1175 per unit for a yield of 5.5%.

BCE

BCE is a long-time favourite among pensioners, and that trend is expected to continue.

The company is expanding its dominant position in the Canadian communications industry with the current bid to buy Manitoba Telecom Services. BCE is also acquiring data centres and media assets.

The moves to buy sports teams, retail outlets, a TV network, specialty channels, radio stations, and an advertising business have some investors wondering if the company is straying too far from its core strengths, but the strategy makes sense as consumers demand access to content 24/7 across multiple platforms.

When you combine these assets with BCE’s world-class mobile and wireline network, you get a powerful business that interacts with most Canadians on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

BCE continues to generate solid free cash flow and raises its dividend on a regular basis. The current quarterly payout of $0.6825 per share yields 4.5%.

Is one a better bet?

Both names offer attractive yields that should be sustainable, but BCE’s track record of boosting its distributions is stronger than RioCan’s, and the communications operator tends to hold up better when the broader market takes a hit.

As a result, I would make BCE the first choice today.

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Fool contributor Andrew Walker has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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