Trust. It's almost a quaint word when each day brings us more bad news about the folks running our companies. Another insider trading scandal. Another corporate expense account maxed out at a strip club. Another CEO getting paid eight figures to destroy ten figures of shareholder value.
Perhaps this is why I've noticed a renewed interest in stocks that tangibly show their trustworthiness by regularly returning cold, hard cash to shareholders.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that savings accounts and bonds just aren't paying what they used to. And that dividend payers have a long history of outperforming their non-paying brethren.
Whatever your reason for making dividend stocks a healthy part of your portfolio, I'd like to highlight 10 stocks that not only pay robust dividends now but also have a long history of consistently raising their dividends.
How I chose the 10
I chose these 10 dividend stocks from an already exclusive club of 42 stocks known as the Dividend Aristocrats. Basically, these are the 42 stocks in the S&P 500 that have raised their dividends each and every year for the last quarter century (or longer).
From this group of 42, I chose my favorite dividend stock from each of the 10 major industry groups. I do this both to highlight some individual stocks and to create an intriguing portfolio.
Here are my choices:
|Kimberly Clark (NYSE: KMB )||Consumer Staples||4.3%||57.8%||13.2|
|Aflac (NYSE: AFL )||Financials||2.2%||22.8%||8.7|
|Abbott Labs (NYSE: ABT )||Health care||3.9%||57.7%||10.8|
|3M (NYSE: MMM )||Industrials||2.4%||36.7%||15.0|
|Air Products & Chemicals (NYSE: APD )||Materials||2.6%||39.0%||15.4|
|CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL )||Telecommunication Services||7.1%||92.6%||13.9|
|Consolidated Edison (NYSE: ED )||Utilities||4.7%||63.4%||14.4|
Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.
Not surprisingly, there are some serious heavy hitters on this list. Three of the companies -- McDonald's, ExxonMobil, and ADP -- make the list of my 20 favorite companies; Kimberly Clark (Kleenex), Aflac (the insurance-selling duck), Abbott (Pedialyte), and 3M (Post-Its) all have strong brand recognition; Consolidated Edison and CenturyLink's dividends speak to those outside their service areas who would recognize their brand; and the lesser known Air Products & Chemicals holds its own with a 19.2% return on equity.
Together, this group averages a dividend yield of 3.5% -- almost twice the yield of the S&P 500 without much of a price premium (the forward P/E ratio of this group is 13.8 vs. the S&P 500's 13.7).
How to use this list
As I've written many times before in this space, there's nothing wrong with just buying the index. Regularly putting money into an S&P 500 index ETF or mutual fund is a good core position for most portfolios. You'll perform as the market performs, less fees.
To beat the market, though, we have to get more granular. We can buy into the 42 Dividend Aristocrats to make a more dividend-rich portfolio, hone it down further to my list of 10, or pick and choose individual bets from among the 10.
With each granular step, we lose some of the safety of diversification and gain the possible advantage of stock picking. Salt to taste.
Personally, I anchor my stock portfolio with broad indexes like the S&P 500 and trusted mutual funds. Then I layer in individual stock picks I've spent the time to research.