When it comes to consistently rewarding shareholders through capital returns, few companies can claim as much success over the long term as International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM). In fact, the tech-industry juggernaut has paid -- and raised -- its quarterly dividend for each of the past 25 years. And investors who buy today enjoy a strong annual dividend yield of roughly 4%.
But IBM isn't the only compelling dividend stock our market has to offer. So we asked three top Motley Fool contributors to each discuss a dividend stock that pays you even more each year than IBM does. Read on to learn why they chose Guess? Inc. (NYSE:GES), Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (NYSE:BIP), and Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD).
A fashionable yield
Steve Symington (Guess? Inc.): It might seem strange that a relatively small clothing and fashion accessories retailer would offer a dividend that yields more than one of the world's biggest technology industry juggernauts. But with Guess? stock down more than 40% from its five-year high set back in late 2013 -- and with the company maintaining its quarterly payout at $0.225 per share over that time period -- Guess?'s dividend yields a respectable 4.4% annually at today's share prices, well above IBM's solid 4% yield as of this writing.
Of course, that wouldn't necessarily be a good thing if Guess? was still struggling in today's crowded retail environment. But the business appears to be on an upswing as we speak. Earlier this week, shares skyrocketed nearly 30% in a single day after the company posted significantly stronger-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter results, including 10.2% revenue growth (at constant currency) and a greater than 44% increase in adjusted earnings per share.
To be sure, Guess? CEO Victor Herrero predicted that "this year marks the beginning of a turnaround for the company," crediting the fruits of ambitious strategic initiatives he put into place shortly after joining the company in late 2015.
If this is indeed the start of a more tangible turnaround for Guess, I think the recent pop will prove to be the beginning of a longer-term trend. And even as the stock rises, investors who buy today will still enjoy an above-average dividend yield from their still-depressed cost basis.
The total package
Brian Feroldi (Brookfield Infrastructure Partners): Finding a stock that can match Big Blue as an income play is tough, but I think that Brookfield Infrastructure Partners is more than up to the task. Brookfield currently offers up a yield of 4.6%, which is quite a bit higher than the 4% yield that you get from IBM. Better yet, Brookfield has grown its dividend payout faster than IBM over the past five years and has absolutely crushed it when looking at total shareholder return.
So what has made Brookfield such a solid investment? The answer is the company's focus on acquiring large income-producing infrastructure assets. Brookfield's portfolio is filled with boring but essential assets like railroads, pipelines, telecom towers, shipping ports, and more. What all these assets have in common is that they provide an essential service and face limited competition. These factors allow the assets to throw off huge amounts of cash that Brookfield's management team uses to reinvest in the business and reward shareholders with a growing divdend.
Looking ahead, management has around $3 billion in excess capital that it is currently looking to deploy in organic projects and acquisitions. That's a decent chunk of capital when compared to the company's current enterprise value of $21 billion. When adding in organic growth from its current pool of assets, I think the company should have no problem hitting its long-term growth target of 5% to 9% annually. Factor in the company's massive 4.6% yield, and I think that investors who buy today can expect to earn strong total returns from here.
One of the best-managed pipeline companies
Maxx Chatsko (Enterprise Products Partners LP): As a master limited partnership, Enterprise Products Partners technically pays a distribution to unit holders rather than a dividend to shareholders. But once investors see the 6.6% yield, I don't think semantics will be a concern.
Of course, the security of a distribution is a primary consideration for income investors. Just don't let the high yield lead you to believe this is a riskier pipeline company. The company is actually pretty conservative for a pipeline MLP, as management has historically retained more of its cash flow to fund growth projects than peers, who sometimes distribute everything they've got.
In 2017, the company retained $867 million for its own use. Why is that important? Well, consider that when peer Kinder Morgan had to slash its dividend to appease credit rating agencies in recent years, Enterprise Products Partners didn't blink. Management is actually planning on retaining even more this year and next to drive its debt-to-EBITDA ratio down closer to the historical range of 3.75 to 4.0, after which point distribution growth rates could increase or shares could be repurchased.
Having the bulk of its operations in the Permian basin certainly doesn't hurt growth prospects, either. Enterprise Products Partners delivered record results in the fourth quarter of 2017 on both profitability and volume of product transported and processed. Given that the Permian is arguably the most important energy-producing region on the planet right now and for the next few years at least, investors should expect growth to continue in 2018 and beyond.
The bottom line
To be clear, even though they offer higher dividend yields than IBM, there's no way to guarantee that these three companies will beat IBM's overall returns going forward. But whether we're betting on Guess?'s ongoing turnaround, Brookfield's strategic acquisitions and history of outsized total returns, or Enterprise Products Partners' juicy dividend and deceivingly conservative business strategy, we think there's a great chance that investors who buy now will be more than pleased with the end result.