Retirees should favor companies that operate in stable industries and offer their shareholders a predictable stream of income. So which stocks in particular can fulfill their needs? We asked a team of Motley Fool contributors to weigh in, and they picked Senior Housing Properties Trust (NASDAQ:DHC)Prologis (NYSE:PLD), and 3M (NYSE:MMM)

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An investment any retiree can understand

Dan Caplinger (Senior Housing Properties Trust): If you've retired, then current income can be the most important thing you need. Real estate investment trusts (REITs) can be good answers to provide solid levels of income, and retirees can understand quite well the reason why a REIT like Senior Housing Properties Trust would be attractive. The business is based on owning and collecting income from leases on medical office buildings, senior living communities, and other real estate that is in high demand from the demographic shifts toward an aging America. As more people retire and need housing that's tailored to their evolving medical and lifestyle needs, Senior Housing Properties Trust has an immense opportunity to grow and profit.

Right now, Senior Housing Properties Trust carries an impressive dividend yield of more than 10%. That's raised some eyebrows among investors, some of whom believe that a dividend cut is likely as funds from operations have declined recently. Yet even if the dividend yield falls somewhat from its current double-digit-percentage levels, investors in retirement should still find themselves amply rewarded. Moreover, with the REIT's shares having lost considerable ground over the past year due in part to fears about rising interest rates, Senior Housing Properties Trust offers a rare bargain that could enhance your overall returns if this retirement-oriented real estate player comes back into favor in the investment community.

A smart way for retirees to invest in e-commerce

Matt Frankel (Prologis): E-commerce is an undeniable trend that could certainly make investors rich. The problem for retirees is that many of the popular e-commerce stocks are highly volatile, pay no dividends, and are generally not suitable for a retirement investment.

Prologis is an exception. The company is a REIT that specializes in "logistics" properties, such as warehouses and distribution centers. Not surprisingly, Amazon is a major Prologis tenant, as are companies like Walmart, DHL, and Best Buy. In all, Prologis owns nearly 3,300 properties with a massive 684 million square feet of space.

Despite its enormous size, there could be lots of room to grow. Worldwide e-commerce sales are expected to grow by almost 50% by 2020, and since just 12% of all retail sales are currently online, this could be just a starting point.

And here's the key growth statistic: E-commerce fulfillment requires three times the distribution-center floor space that brick-and-mortar retailers do. So, as e-commerce continues to grow, the necessary logistics real estate will grow even faster.

As far as Prologis' suitability for retirees, here are some numbers that could make you smile. The company has one of the highest investment-grade credit ratings (A3/A-) in the REIT sector, pays a handsome 3% dividend yield, and has done a great job of increasing its payout over the past several years -- a trend that is likely to continue.

This reliable winner is on sale

Brian Feroldi (3M): The "perfect" stock for a retiree to buy would pay out a nice dividend, boast a rock-solid business model, have decent growth prospects, and be trading for an attractive price. One company that checks all those boxes right now is the industrial giant 3M.

Let's start with the dividend: 3M's yield is 2.73%, which is much higher than the S&P 500. The company has also increased its payout for 59 years in a row, which is a remarkable achievement that qualifies it as a Dividend Aristocrat. Better yet, since the dividend consumes only about half its profits, there's ample reason for investors to believe that the dividend growth can continue from here. 

Turning to the business model, 3M sells thousands of products that are used every day. The best known are from its consumer division, which sells branded products like Post-it notes and Scotch tape. However, the company actually pulls in the vast majority of its revenue from industries that are not consumer-facing, like healthcare, electronics, energy, and the industrial markets. This extremely diversified revenue stream helps to insulate the company's revenue and profits from economic downturns.

As for growth potential, 3M has long been viewed as an innovation machine that churns out new products every year. When combined with margin improvements, acquisitions, price increases, and stock buybacks, Wall Street expects the company to produce earnings growth of more than 9% annually over the next five years. That's not too shabby for a company that has been in business for more than 100 years. 

Despite boasting a long history of success, Wall Street wasn't pleased with the company's first-quarter earnings report and has sold off shares hard as a result. The drop has caused shares to plunge more than 20% from their recent all-time high and has knocked down the valuation to about 17 times next year's earnings estimates. I think that's an attractive price to pay for a high-quality business that has a history of delivering for its shareholders.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.