Interest rates have been near all-time lows for a long time. That has led a lot of retirees to ditch bonds in favor of dividend-paying stocks. It would make sense to assume that because of this interest, it would be hard to find top dividend stocks that are actually worth buying right now.
But as you'll see below, there are still deals to be had. All of the stocks I've selected here share key traits: dividends yielding over 3% that are sustainable, price tags below the market average, and established businesses with large moats to protect them from competition.
Check your bathroom, you're likely already a customer
Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) has 22 different brands with over $1 billion in annual sales, and another 19 that pull in at least $500 million. If you have Crest toothpaste, Gillette razors, Duracell batteries, or even Pampers diapers in your house, you're already a customer of Procter & Gamble.
The company's brands provide an admirable moat around the business that insulates it -- to a moderate degree -- from competition. Because people like you and me know and trust these brands to provide the products we use every day, they can charge a slight premium to discount brands that will allow the company to continue raising prices incrementally into the future.
That pricing power helped the company rake in $11.5 billion in free cash flow (FCF) over the last twelve months. The good news is that P&G only needed to use 65% of this FCF to pay its dividend -- which currently offers a yield of 3.2%. That payout ratio means that if times are tough, the dividend is safe. And if business is able to grow FCF only incrementally, there's still room for growth.
At the same time, P&G's stock currently trades for 22 times trailing earnings. While that's not exactly cheap, it is a 13% discount to the broader market's price tag.
Speaking of companies whose products you already own
Next on the list is another company that's likely already invaded your home. Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) is the parent company behind Huggies, Kotex, Depends, and -- most iconic of them all -- Kleenex. Whenever you have a product whose brand name (Kleenex) is the proxy for the entire industry, you know you have a winner on your hands. That kind of brand recognition provides the same type of moat for Kimberly-Clark as Procter & Gamble enjoys.
Over the past year, Kimberly-Clark's FCF came in at $2.2 billion. While that sounds much smaller than P&G's, it's important to note that Kimberly-Clark is a much smaller company. The important thing to note is that the company only used 60% of this FCF to pay its dividend -- which also currently sits at 3.2%. As with P&G, this means that the dividend is safe, and has room for future growth.
One advantage Kimberly-Clark has over P&G is that its stock is cheaper. Trading at 19 times trailing earnings, you can buy shares of Kimberly-Clark for a 24% discount to the broader market.
Can you hear me now?
The final stock on our list is the country's largest mobile provider, Verizon (NYSE:VZ). The company benefits from two huge factors that provide a formidable moat. The first is the fact that -- with 35% of all wireless subscriptions in the United States -- Verizon is the top dog in the industry. The second is that there aren't that many companies that can challenge Verizon. Because of the enormous up-front costs associated with building out a wireless infrastructure, there are only a handful of players in the industry.
While those up front costs can be onerous, they create enormous FCF streams. Over the past twelve months, Verizon has brought in $11.5 billion in FCF, 79% of which was used to pay its dividend. While it might seem alarming to see a higher ratio here, there are two things to keep in mind. First, you are compensated for this by the fact that Verizon's yield is 4.5%. Second, the company FCF was lower during the second quarter due to non-operational events dealing with the company's pensions.
It's also worth noting that Verizon has its hands in a number of industries that could drive future growth, including the Internet of Things (IoT). For this, you pay for a stock that's trading at 13 times trailing earnings -- or roughly a 50% discount to the broader market.
There's no "sure thing" in the investment world. But by putting your money behind established businesses offering healthy dividends at below-market prices, you significantly increase your chances of establishing streams of cash flow that will help you fund a comfortable retirement.