Dividend-paying stocks historically outperform non-dividend paying stocks, but that doesn't mean all dividend-paying companies are created equal. Some businesses are better than others, and the best businesses offer the greatest opportunity for future dividend increases. If you're hunting for top dividend stocks that offer more than just a high yield, it could be time to consider buying CVS Health (NYSE:CVS), Welltower (NYSE:WELL), and STORE Capital (NYSE:STOR).
A healthy dividend is everything
Rich Smith (CVS Health Corporation): With $186 billion in annual sales, CVS Health is the nation's biggest pharmacy chain by a wide margin. (For comparison, No. 2 druggist Walgreens Boots Alliance has sales of only $124 billion). This fact alone probably suffices to slot CVS into the definition of a "top stock."
Regarding its dividend yield, CVS stock yields 3.2%, which is a dividend 60% higher than most stocks on the S&P 500, where dividend yields average only 2%. And with a dividend payout ratio of only 31%, CVS can easily afford to pay this dividend -- and potentially, to raise it.
But would you believe CVS stock is also bargain-priced? It's true. Valued at just 9.8 times trailing earnings, analysts surveyed by S&P Global Market Intelligence estimate that CVS is going to grow its earnings at about 10% annually over the next five years. On the one hand, that's further evidence that CVS has the wherewithal with which to grow its dividend yield over time. At the same time, paying 9.8 times earnings for a 10% growth rate means that investors in CVS today are buying the stock for a PEG ratio of less than 1.0 -- the very definition of a bargain in stock investing.
Health is wealth
Neha Chamaria (Welltower): My colleague Rich pointed you to a healthcare stock that not only offers strong yields but is also a value buy. Here's another contender for you to consider: healthcare real estate investment trust (REIT) Welltower.
Rising interest rates and fears of an oversupply in the senior housing market have put considerable pressure on Welltower shares of late. These concerns, however, could be short-lived as an aging population should drive healthcare spending in coming years. While senior housing forms the bulk of Welltower's business, it also owns post-acute rehabilitation centers and outpatient medical properties, thereby covering a wide area of healthcare. As of last quarter, Welltower owned 1,366 healthcare properties.
Welltower has been exceptionally busy in the past year or so, restructuring its portfolio to divest low-return assets and use the proceeds to extend relationships with key existing partners, expand reach in important markets, and deleverage. Welltower expects to take a hit of 5% to its funds from operation (FFO) at the midpoint in fiscal 2018, but that doesn't include potential incremental addition from acquisitions. Welltower has a strong history of FFO and dividend growth.
For income investors, the recent weakness in Welltower's stock offers up a great opportunity. Simply take home a hefty 6.6% yield today and reinvest the dividends to earn strong returns in the long run.
Ramp up you income with this REIT
Todd Campbell (STORE Capital): STORE Capital investors have been rewarded with a 23% return since Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway announced it took a 10% stake in the commercial real estate company last summer.
Unlike mall operators, STORE Capital's business focuses on buying free standing commercial buildings (it owns 2,000 properties) that it leases to services-oriented business that are more insulated against the threat of e-commerce, such as restaurants, movie theaters, and gyms.
It has over 400 customers operating across 15 service industries, and since those customers sign long-term leases containing rent escalators and most of the company's debt is fixed rate, investors benefit from greater visibility and cash flow predictability.
The company's 4.9% forward dividend yield already trounces the market, but I think yields could climb even higher as new properties are bought and leased and rents rise. Last year, improving cash flow resulted in a 6.9% dividend increase. Since 2014, its dividend payment has increased by 24%.
Overall, this is an intriguing way to pocket income from commercial real estate, and Berkshire Hathaway's seal of approval makes it one of my favorite dividend stocks to buy.