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2 Dividend Champions of Tech You Can Buy Today

By Andrew Tonner – Updated Dec 1, 2016 at 12:57PM

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Though the tech sector isn’t traditionally a bastion of dividend stocks, AT&T and ADP both stand out as winning investments with long commitments to dividend growth.

When it comes to dividend investing, boring is beautiful.

That's why taking a buy-and-hold approach with stocks that pay high yields can deliver market-beating returns, particularly when you use dividend reinvestment as part of your investing plan. Though many of today's largest tech stocks are relatively new to paying dividends, it's possible to find dividend champions with long track records of regular payouts in the sector. Here are the two best dividend aristocrats in the tech world today. 

Company Name

Ticker Symbol

Market Capitalization

Dividend Yield

Payout Ratio

AT&T Corp.

(T -0.81%)

$240.6 billion



Automatic Data Processing

(ADP -2.22%)

$39.8 billion



Data source: Yahoo! Finance  

Crucially, this chart says very little about either AT&T's or ADP's prospects going forward, so let's delve further into the details of these two tech dividend champions.

Image source: Getty Images.

AT&T: The high-yield tech dividend aristocrat

AT&T's current yield already more than doubles the 2% average yield of the S&P 500, but its 31-year streak of consecutive annual dividend increases makes it one of the most compelling dividend aristocrats anywhere on the market today. Looking to the future, AT&T's ability to fund continued dividend growth seems fully intact as its strong competitive position in the U.S. telecom market provides it with powerful financial and competitive positioning heading into the latter half of the decade.

In recent years, smaller U.S. telecom players T-Mobile and Sprint vastly improved the quality of their 4G networks, roughly leveling the playing field among the four main U.S. telecom carriers across key performance metrics like download speeds, upload speeds, and reliability. However, the all-but-assured deployment of 5G networks throughout the latter half of the decade will require an estimated $104 billion in additional capital expenditures, according to one telecom industry consulting company.

Image source: AT&T

 Thanks to its scale, AT&T's roughly 18% EBITDA margin stands head and shoulders above Sprint's and T-Mobile's EBITDA margins of 3.7% and 8.4%, respectively. This increased profitability positions AT&T to continue to deliver dividend growth while it pushes into the 5G future.

With its high yield, proven commitment to dividend growth, and strong competitive stance in the U.S. telecom market, AT&T certainly stands as one of the best dividend stocks in tech today.

ADP: A lucrative business with a history of strong returns

Payment processor Automatic Data Processing, or ADP for short, is a longtime Fool favorite -- a recommendation in two of our premium services -- and for good reason. As the leader in a hugely lucrative industry, ADP simply prints profits, which it has adroitly returned to shareholders in a stream of ever-increasing dividend payments.

So, what is ADP's secret sauce? At a high level, this dividend champion takes a tedious, non-core task that all companies face and makes it as simple and painless as possible. The company generates nearly 80% of its total sales from its Employer Services segment, which essentially provides many of the core HR tasks like payroll services, benefits administration, tax and compliance services, and the like.

Image source: Getty Images

Providing this critical back-end support makes ADP's business model extremely sticky; its average customer lifespan is over a decade. However, providing outsourced business tasks remains just one aspect of ADP's business. It also collects interest on a pooled employer payroll it holds on its balance sheet before dispersing them as paychecks, an aspect of its business that rising interest rates will benefit.

Its profitable, sticky business model allows ADP to funnel ever-increasing amounts of money toward its shareholders, and it shows no signs of losing momentum any time soon. The company has increased its dividend for 41 consecutive years, and it has doubled its cash dividend payments since 2007. Looking to the future, the average estimate from the 20 sell-side analysts covering the company calls for its EPS to grow at an average annual rate of 10.5% over the next five years, which should give the company ample flexibility to easily fund continued dividend growth as well. Without question, ADP remains just as compelling of a tech sector dividend champion as AT&T.

Andrew Tonner has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Automatic Data Processing and T-Mobile US. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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