Stock markets are down again today as the government shutdown passes a full week in the books. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is down 0.73% as of 3:15 p.m. EDT, while the broader S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite are down 0.9% and 1.79%, respectively.
The good news for dividend investors is that traders are flooding to "safety," which means companies with big, safe payouts are doing well today.
Consumer staple producer Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) is up 1.6% today as the company holds its annual meeting. CEO A. G. Lafley, who was brought back to run the company in May, will be the key figure to watch today. He aims to reinvigorate a company that has seen revenue stagnate and net income fall over the past five years. It's no small task to bring a company like P&G back to significant growth, but the vision to do so comes from the top, and Lafley proved his ability in his previous tenure as CEO from 2000 to 2009.
For today's trading, it doesn't hurt that Wells Fargo analyst Chris Ferrara upgraded the stock to "outperform" because he thinks a simple plan of growing the top 40 businesses, the 20 biggest new products, and the 10 most profitable emerging markets will drive a return to growth. For investors fleeing to safety, P&G has paid a dividend for 123 straight years, and at 3.2% the dividend yield is already more than you can get from 10-year Treasuries, so there are a few short-term drivers today.
Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) is up 0.9% today, also likely driven by the flight to safety. The company has a 3% dividend yield and has increased its payout to investors for 52 straight years, so there are few safer stocks on the market. Coca-Cola has built a dominant business on sugary soft drinks but it has recently shown the willingness to adapt as major markets look for healthier beverages and snacks. Besides, food isn't the first thing investors will cut back on if the government impasse continues for another week or two.
Finally, Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) is the only other Dow stock out of 30 in the green today, rising an impressive 1.7%. The retail giant often attracts customers when they begin cutting back on spending, and that's why it's considered a relatively safe stock when investors become fearful. It's also another strong dividend stock, paying a 2.6% yield to investors, continuing the theme of dividends dominating the market today.
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