Since the market bottomed out in 2009, U.S. stocks have been on a tear, with the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) gaining over 275%. When we add dividends to the mix, the S&P 500 has generated a remarkable 353% in total returns over that period -- a remarkable run.
And while there's nothing to indicate the market is set to go bearish -- jobs growth has been steady, and the federal tax cut should support economic growth in 2018 -- it's always a good idea to own some stocks that can do well no matter the market conditions. So we asked three of our contributing investors for their favorite dividend stocks that can do well in both bull and bear markets, and they offered up a discount retailer consumers love in TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE:TJX), global burger behemoth McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD), and a recession-resistant healthcare property specialist in Caretrust REIT Inc. (NASDAQ:CTRE).
Keep reading to learn what sets these dividend-paying stocks are built to thrive no matter the market conditions, and why you should consider buying now.
Everybody loves a bargain
Brian Feroldi (TJX Companies): When times are good, people want a bargain. When times are tough, people need a bargain. That's why retail shoppers are willing to pay a visit to one of TJX Companies' discount stores in good times and in bad.
TJX Companies is the parent behind hit retail concepts including Marshalls, HomeGoods, T.J. Maxx, and more. The company can offer great prices on brand-name merchandise because it buys in bulk from manufacturers around the world who are desperate to get the goods out of their warehouse. TJX then passes along the savings to its customers. What's more, since TJX's inventory is always changing, the store rarely looks the same way twice. This approach trains customers to buy immediately whenever they see something they may want. Otherwise, they run the risk of never seeing the item again.
These unique factors help to inoculate TJX's business from the ups and downs of the economy. It all helps to insulate the company from e-commerce competition. That's a major reason the company's revenue and profits growth have been remarkably consistent for years on end.
Wall Street projects that new store openings, modest same-store-sales growth, and share repurchases will allow TJX Companies to grow its bottom line by 10% annually over the next five years. When adding in a 1.6% dividend yield that consumes only a third of profits, I see plenty of reasons for bargain-hunting investors to give this company a closer look.
This dividend stock looks golden
Dan Caplinger (McDonald's): It's been a long time since U.S. stock investors saw a bear market, but one of the themes that worked well during the 2008 recession and financial crisis was that companies that were able to demonstrate the value of their products and services tended to do well. Nowhere was that clearer than with McDonald's, which defied the plunge of greater than 30% in the broader stock market by posting gains of almost 9%. Over the past decade, the fast-food giant has delivered total returns of more than 300% to shareholders, all with far less volatility than the broader market.
At 2.3%, the dividend yield doesn't look all that impressive, but in the context of an outstanding year of share-price performance in 2017, McDonald's has done its part for dividend investors. A 7% boost to $1.01 per share on a quarterly basis came during the fall of 2017, and the increase marked the 41st straight year in which the fast-food chain gave its shareholders higher payouts. Smart strategic vision has made those boosts possible, with the company's current Velocity Growth Plan emphasizing new initiatives such as delivery, menu optimization, and digital ordering and payment. Strong comparable sales are showing the success of that strategy, and conditions look good for McDonald's to keep growing into the future.
Healthcare knows no seasons
Jason Hall (Caretrust REIT Inc.): When it comes to healthcare, particularly for our seniors, bull and bear markets don't really have much sway. And for senior housing and healthcare property owner Caretrust REIT, there's a big long-term trend that investors should pay close attention to.
As most people know, the baby boomer generation is getting older, with millions already in their late 60s and early 70s. Over the next dozen years, around 30 million more boomers will reach retirement age, doubling the 65-plus population along the way to more than 80 million Americans. The 80-plus population will also surge over that period, creating a substantial amount of demand for more housing and healthcare facilities aimed at serving the needs of seniors.
Caretrust, with fewer than 200 properties at last count, is positioned to be a huge beneficiary of this trend. As a relatively small player in the space today -- there are well over 10,000 skilled nursing properties at present, and that number will need to grow substantially -- Caretrust has almost doubled its property count since going public in 2014, substantially boosting its cash flows and increasing its dividend twice.
With a current yield of 4.7% and a major secular trend creating a decades-long runway for growth, Caretrust could be an incredible long-term investment. And with its focus on healthcare properties, its business doesn't depend on a bull market to drive profits higher.
Brian Feroldi has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Jason Hall owns shares of CareTrust REIT. The Motley Fool recommends The TJX Companies. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.