Once you reach your 60s, the finish line of retirement is within sight. However, your investment focus will likely be shifting from building wealth to living off of the wealth you have accumulated, and dividends are likely to take on an increasingly important role in your portfolio.
But don't get too caught up in high current yields -- you'll also need to ensure your dividend growth keeps up with, or exceeds, the historical rate of inflation growth. Midstream oil and gas company ONEOK, Inc. (OKE -1.42%) and diversified utility Dominion Energy, Inc. (D -2.74%) could be just the stocks you're looking for.
Simplifying the growth outlook
Last year was a big one for ONEOK. It bought its controlled limited partnership, bringing all of its assets in-house and vastly simplifying its corporate structure. There was a near-term cost associated with that move, namely a roughly 40% increase in the company's share count; however, the company is now set to move forward with an ambitious growth plan. And if early results are any indication, ONEOK is well on its way to a rewarding future, particularly for dividend-focused investors.
The big picture plan is to reduce leverage, expand via growth projects, and increase the dividend along the way. Early progress on the leverage front has been notable, with debt-to-EBITDA dropping from a peak of around 6.5 in early 2016 to roughly 4.9 at the end of 2017. The goal is to get that number to roughly 4.
The midstream company's expansion, meanwhile, is being driven by around $4 billion in announced projects. The pipeline here extends to 2020, which is notable because these assets are expected to power the company's dividend higher by roughly 10% a year through 2021. That's over three times the historical rate of inflation growth.
With a 5.2% dividend yield, ONEOK is already a rewarding dividend stock. But add in its future plans, notably that 10% dividend growth target, and it is a solid option for investors in their 60s getting ready for or just entering retirement.
Forget the news
Dominion Energy, meanwhile, is one of the largest utilities in the United States. Normally that would suggest a boring business, but Dominion is currently in the news because of its attempt to take over the financially troubled SCANA Corporation. That utility, which is roughly an eighth the size of Dominion, found itself in need of a lifeline after plans for a nuclear power plant were scrapped -- mid-construction.
Don't get too worked up about this. For starters, Dominion has gone in with a plan to deal with SCANA's nuclear troubles, and has stated that it will walk away from the deal if regulators don't approve it. Second, Dominion expects the acquisition to push its earnings growth to the high end of its 6% to 8% annual target through 2020, but that range existed before the deal -- so don't expect any changes if it falls through. And the utility's dividend growth projection of 10% per year remains in place regardless of what happens with SCANA.
Backing the earnings and dividend growth is roughly $4 billion in annual capital spending across Dominion's diversified business. The roughly 5.1% yield, meanwhile, is toward the high end of the utility peer group, and well above what an S&P 500 Index fund would offer. Part of that is the uncertainty surrounding the SCANA merger headlines.
However, Dominion's beta of 0.30 still suggests a low level of relative volatility. That makes it something of a cornerstone investment, with a notable dividend growth kicker and a sizable yield for those willing to shoulder some near-term uncertainty. If you are in your 60s, Dominion is probably a good risk/reward trade off.
Solid options for dividends and dividend growth
Your 60s are an important transition point when many people start thinking about life after work. That has notable implications for your investment portfolio, often including a shift from capital growth to income to help provide for yourself when you decide to retire. However, at this age it's too soon to go all in on income, because you could have another 20 to 30 years of living expenses ahead. And that means dividend growth is just as important as dividend yield.
Both ONEOK and Dominion provide a nice balance of income and income growth. If you take the time to get to know them, it's possible that one or both might find their way into your portfolio.