Investors like dividend stocks that aren't stingy with their payouts. Yet even among the elite ranks of the Dividend Aristocrats -- stocks that have increased their annual payments to shareholders for at least 25 straight years -- you can find some companies with dividend yields that are embarrassingly low. Below, we'll look more closely at Roper Technologies (ROP -1.61%), S&P Global (SPGI -0.90%), and Sherwin-Williams (SHW 0.15%) to see why they give investors a somewhat mixed picture when it comes to dividends.
Roper comes in with a whimper
Roper Technologies is one of the newest members of the Dividend Aristocrats, with annual increases dating back exactly a quarter-century, to 1993. Yet the amount that it pays in dividends is unusually low, with a current yield of just 0.6% even after a sizable 18% dividend boost earlier this year.
The main justification for the low yield stems from Roper's long-term strategy. The company is a conglomerate of several different types of businesses. Its radio-frequency technology gets used in areas like toll road electronic payment collection systems and remote monitoring, while it also makes diagnostic and lab software solutions, control systems, and a host of other industrial technology products. Roper grows by making frequent acquisitions, and it believes that it can better put its ample cash flow to work by finding new business opportunities instead of returning huge amounts of capital in dividends. That's been a solid long-term strategy for shareholders who value share-price appreciation above income, even if some dividend investors might prefer a bit more attention to the payout side.
S&P Global doesn't hit the benchmark
S&P Global is the company behind well-known stock market benchmarks like the Dow and S&P 500, providing a wealth of information and analysis of the financial markets across the globe. Credit ratings assess bond quality, while the S&P Dow Jones Indices segment tracks key indices both for the stock market and other financial markets. The company also has an impressive database of market data and proprietary research that it offers to clients.
For dividend investors, S&P Global's yield of just over 1% stands out as being barely half what the overall market pays on average. Yet S&P has been aware of the potential disconnect, deciding to increase its quarterly payout by 22% earlier this year. That still leaves the 45-year veteran of annual payout increases with work to do to catch up to its peers on the yield front, but S&P Global is riding the wave of interest in financial markets higher and has delivered strong overall performance to its long-term shareholders.
Sherwin-Williams needs more green paint
Finally, Sherwin-Williams is probably the most familiar household name among these three Dividend Aristocrats. The paint specialist runs its own chain of retail stores as well as offering paint and coatings products to third-party home improvement retailers. Dividend investors like the fact that Sherwin-Williams has increased its annual dividend payouts every year for the past 40 years, but they're less than excited by the stock's 0.9% yield.
What's especially troubling is that Sherwin-Williams doesn't seem to see any problem with its dividend strategy, having made just a 1% increase to its quarterly payout in February. Yet investors in the stock don't have a lot of reason to complain, as the paint specialist has taken maximum advantage of favorable conditions in the housing market to generate strong earnings and impressive share-price gains recently. As long as total return remains solid, Sherwin-Williams can justify its behavior even to income investors who would prefer to see more generous payouts.
Watch these stocks
Dividend Aristocrats have a positive reputation because they've proven that they can boost their dividends through good times and bad. Yet especially with these three stocks, you can't necessarily count on any given Dividend Aristocrat to generate impressive or even average yields. That's an important thing to know if you count on the income your dividend stock portfolio provides.