Investing can be a frustrating activity. Don't you hate it when you look back a few years and find that you really should have bought into that great idea you had back then, because it turned out to be a big winner? If that missed opportunity included a decade or more of robust dividend growth, that only pours salt in the wound. Some dividend stocks are just too good to pass up. Sometimes, the right time to buy is right away.
So what are the best dividend stocks on the market right this minute? We asked some of your fellow investors here at The Motley Fool that very question, and they were quick to return with some fantastic ideas that you don't want to miss. Read on to see why our panelists recommend getting into McDonald's (MCD 2.14%), Starbucks (SBUX 2.03%), and Boeing (BA -5.07%) while the going is good.
Fly higher with this stock
Dan Caplinger (Boeing): The aerospace industry has been extremely strong in recent years, and Boeing has capitalized on the resurgence of airlines and their extensive capital spending to expand and modernize their fleets of aircraft. Boeing's operational strategy has shifted recently, with its focus moving away from trying to reinvent the wheel with costly brand-new designs toward taking existing successful aircraft and finding tweaks to make them better suited to the needs of today's customers.
That move has helped boost production levels and that, in turn, has made it possible for Boeing to meet aggressive delivery commitments while keeping operational costs relatively in check.
Investors might not think of Boeing as much of a dividend stock, with a yield of just 1.9%. But the stock's having doubled in the past year masks the impressive dividend history that Boeing has, with its payout having almost tripled between 2013 and 2017. The company's most recent boost of more than 20% took the quarterly payout to $1.71 per share.
And with stock buybacks that could amount to as much as $18 billion in the next two to three years, Boeing has the upward momentum that income investors want to see. In the next decade, Boeing's continued success could further boost dividend payouts and make those who passed on the stock feel like they missed out on a golden opportunity.
It's not too late to have a cup o' Starbucks
Anders Bylund (Starbucks): If you thought you already missed the boat on Starbucks, you're making a big mistake.
Sure, the coffee chain already has 27,000 locations worldwide. The stock has gained a market-stomping 520% over the last decade, while the S&P 500 benchmark only doubled. And if you'd reinvested dividends in more stock along the way, Starbucks would have delivered a massive 1,090% return versus the S&P 500's anemic 144%.
Surely Starbucks' best days are already behind it. Right?
Nope. Believe it or not, it's a big world out there and Starbucks has only started to scratch the surface of some truly massive growth opportunities. The company added 550 net new stores in China last year, for example. Management wants to build 2,300 new stores worldwide in 2018 alone, including another 600 in the Middle Kingdom. The company is building roasting facilities to support a thriving store network in China, where comparable-store sales are growing at a brisk 8% annual pace and total sales rose 14% last year.
So this old growth engine still has plenty of fuel to burn. On top of that, Starbucks is doing right by its shareholders by increasing its dividends and buying back generous heaps of its shares:
It's not too late to jump on the Starbucks bandwagon. And don't worry about price multiples: The stock is trading at a very reasonable 19 times trailing earnings and 16 times EBITDA profits right now.
That's a mighty tasty treat, and I'm not even talking about their Frappuccinos.
Fast food is a growth industry
Demitri Kalogeropoulos (McDonald's): If someone had told you in early 2015 that McDonald's stock would soar 71% over the next three years -- trouncing the broader market and outpacing rival Chipotle (CMG 1.70%) by over 100 percentage points -- you might have choked on your burrito. But that's exactly what happened, and the rally might be just the start of a long period of gains for the fast-food titan.
Mickey D's just put up its best comparable-store sales performance in six years as customer growth returned across each of its global markets in 2017. Its 2% traffic uptick put it well ahead of fast-food peers even as formerly fast-growing rivals like Chipotle, Shake Shack (SHAK -2.76%), and Starbucks struggled with flat or declining numbers.
The chain became far more profitable last year, too, thanks to a refranchising effort that shifted the sales mix toward recurring rent, royalty, and franchise fees. The move allowed operating margin to jump to 42% of sales from 32% a year ago. Investors can expect more modest, but still positive, moves in this direction as McDonald's refranchises a further 3% of its restaurant base in the next year or so.
Those solid finances mean management has plenty of funds to direct toward growth initiatives such as menu improvements, food delivery, and store remodels. They're aiming to pour over $2 billion into these ideas in 2018 alone, which helps explain why it is so hard to steal (and keep) market share from the industry leader.