Investing during your retirement is as different as night and day from when you were younger. Working fewer hours, having less in earnings from employment -- or if you're lucky, not working at all -- and living much longer than we used to mean you have to supplement your income in a way that still allows it to grow over time. Perhaps the best way to do that is to invest in reliable dividend stocks that can deliver a growing payout for several years down the road.
So, we asked our investing contributors to each highlight a stock they see as a potential fit for a retirement-focused portfolio. Here's why they picked Texas Roadhouse (NASDAQ:TXRH), Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE: ETP), and ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM).
A top-notch restaurant
Brian Feroldi (Texas Roadhouse): The last few years have been brutal for restaurant operators. Costs have been rising, and customer traffic has been falling, which is a one-two punch that cause caused profit growth at many chains to stall.
One restaurant concept that has managed to bucked the trend is Texas Roadhouse. The company has produced 32 quarters in a row of positive same-store sales growth, which is a remarkable achievement. These haven't been puny gains, either. In the most recent quarter, comp growth was 5.8% at company-owned locations and 4.7% at franchise restaurants. When combined with new store openings, the company managed to grow its revenue by 12.5% and profits by 38%. What's more, the company has shared its prosperity with investors in the form of a fast-growing dividend. At today's prices, shares yield a strong 1.75%.
Looking forward, I think there is ample reason for investors to expect the good times to continue. The company is rolling out its Texas Roadhouse concept in international markets and its new Bubba's 33 concept stateside. Add in continued same-store sales gains and a lower tax rate, and you have a formula for continued double-digit profit growth. That makes Texas Roadhouse an ideal stock for dividend-focused investors in my book.
A little risk but a big reward
John Bromels (Energy Transfer Partners): Large company: check. Well-established yield: check. Trading at an attractive valuation: check. Those are three big things to look for in a retirement portfolio, and you can find them all in energy infrastructure MLP Energy Transfer Partners. The partnership has one of the highest yields in the industry at a massive 12.1%. But there are some things you should know before you buy.
Energy Transfer Partners' P/E ratio and EV-to-EBITDA ratio -- which strips out depreciation, a big expense for energy infrastructure companies -- are well under the industry average. But those numbers don't tell the whole story. One reason Energy Transfer's valuation is so low is because it's a riskier investment than many of its peers. The partnership's balance sheet is awash in debt, and the market had some concerns about its distribution coverage.
But Energy Transfer's recent fourth-quarter 2017 earnings report brought a welcome surprise to investors: a distribution coverage ratio of 1.3 times, which is a very comfortable margin. The company also made some savvy moves to pay down moreexpensive debt through asset sales and take on some less-expensive debt in return. In other words, although the risks are still there, they seem a lot less concerning than they did a year ago. And even if the worst happened and the company's yield were cut in half, Energy Transfer Partners would still yield more than many of its peers.
Owning an MLP isn't for everyone, thanks to some additional tax reporting requirements for MLP unitholders. But if that doesn't bother you, Energy Transfer Partners looks like a good buy right now for a retirement portfolio.
A long history of dividend increases selling at a discount
Tyler Crowe (ExxonMobil): There are few dividend investments that are as tried and tested as ExxonMobil. The company has a streak of increasing dividend payments every year going all the way back to 1982, when it kept the same rate as the prior year. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1941 to find the last time the company decreased its cash dividend payment. The company has been able to maintain this incredibly impressive dividend streak thanks to an integrated business model that generates cash from all aspects of the oil and gas value chain and being one of the best capital allocators in the business.
While investing in ExxonMobil is almost always a good idea for those seeking income, today may be one of the more opportune times to do so. Even though the company's earnings have been ticking upwards recently thanks to slightly higher oil prices and management's ability to lower the cost of each barrel produced, it hasn't met Wall Street's expectations, and its stock has declined as a result. So much so that today, Exxon's price to tangible book value is at the lowest it has been in almost 30 years, and its dividend yield above 4% is the highest it has been in decades.
I understand that there are some short-term issues, such as poor production growth, and longer-term ones, such as the threat of alternative fuels disrupting the fossil fuel industry. However, it is hard to see these things meriting such a low valuation for a company that has reliably churned out higher dividends since World War II. For investors looking to supplement their income, ExxonMobil looks pretty attractive today.