Whether you're already retired and looking to supplement your income, or still building your retirement nest egg, dividend stocks can be ideal investments. There's a lot of evidence that high-quality dividend stocks are market-beating investments, as long as you're willing and able to hold them for the long term, through thick and thin.
With an eye on helping retirement savers -- and retirees -- find the best dividend investments, three Motley Fool investors who know a thing or two about dividend stocks put together some of their best ideas. They came up with global infrastructure leader Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP (BIP -3.19%), distillery giant Diageo plc (ADR) (DEO -1.50%), and renewable energy producer Pattern Energy Group Inc. (PEGI).
Keep reading to learn why they picked these three dividend stocks to help you reach your retirement goals.
A proven business model focused on dividends
Neha Chamaria (Brookfield Infrastructure Partners): Shares of Brookfield Infrastructure Partners are down almost 12% year to date and yield a solid 4.6% in dividends, as of this writing. That makes the stock a smart choice, for the simple reason that Brookfield offers both stable and steadily growing dividends -- prerequisites for retirees looking for additional income.
In its most recent quarter, Brookfield grew its funds from operations (FFO) by 27.6% year over year, thanks largely to recent acquisitions. As an infrastructure asset company, Brookfield acquires quality yet distressed assets like power transmission lines, railroads, toll roads, gas pipelines, and telecommunication towers, and then turns them around. Brookfield's capabilities are reflected in its operational performance history -- in just the past five years, the company's FFO has grown more than threefold.
Strong cash flows have supported Brookfield's dividend growth, with the latest increase coming in at 8%. In the long run, the company aims to increase its dividend annually by 5% to 9% and generate 12% to 15% returns on equity.
While the stock can be volatile, Brookfield holds significant growth potential, thanks to a business model where the bulk of its revenue comes from regulated or contracted sources, a strong liquidity position, and commitment to shareholders. Over the years, Brookfield's dividend growth and yield should prove to be a winning combination for retirees.
There is one caveat with Brookfield Infrastructure: As a master limited partnership (MLP), it's not an ideal investment to hold inside an IRA or 401(k) due to tax-law particulars. But if you're looking to invest in a taxable account -- for instance, with proceeds from a required minimum distribution that you plan to reinvest -- it can make for an excellent source of dependable income in retirement.
Distilling a leader down to its essence
Rich Duprey (Diageo): One of the world's largest distillers, Diageo is the leading maker of Scotch whisky, which represents more than a quarter of Diageo's $15.6 billion in annual sales. The top-selling Johnnie Walker brand has been most responsible for Diageo's growth, but previously it was helped by vodka sales from brands like Smirnoff, Ciroc, and Ketel One. Vodka, though, has fallen in recent years, and today represents 11% of Diageo's sales.
Because the "browns" of the spirits world -- whiskey, bourbon, rye -- are the hot drinks of the moment, particularly among women, Diageo has been able to ride that wave higher. It recently launched a "Jane Walker" label to capitalize on this trend. Recent studies suggest that women not only drink as much alcohol as men do, but also that younger women may possibly be consuming even more.
At 22 times trailing earnings and 19 times next year's estimates, Diageo is being discounted by the market compared to other distillers, despite its premier position in the industry. Almost all its brands can be found in the top spot or second place in markets around the globe. Other well-known brands it owns include Crown Royal whisky and Captain Morgan rum.
Its dividend of $3.46 per share currently yields a solid 2.4% annually, and with analysts expecting earnings to grow 12% this year, Diageo should be able to continue delivering sales, earnings, and dividend growth for years. That's a retirement portfolio mix worth toasting.
The headwinds are turning
Jason Hall (Pattern Energy): With a 9.3% yield at recent prices following the 31% decline in its stock price over the past year, independent renewable-energy producer Pattern Energy looks like a yield trap on the surface. And it seems blatantly obvious why investors have sold out of the stock recently, when you consider two factors. First, changes to tax equity investing rules in the U.S. have already started to hurt funding for new projects; second, rising interest rates could affect Pattern Energy's access to capital.
But my analysis leads me to a very different conclusion: Now is an excellent time to buy Pattern, and I think the company is going to be able to maintain its payout in the near term, and start increasing it again within a few years.
Pattern generates sufficient cash flow -- measured as cash available for distribution (CADF) -- to maintain its dividend. And it operates in Canada, Japan, and South America, as well as the U.S., dampening the impact of tax law changes.
Furthermore, CEO Mike Garland said Pattern "... is in an excellent position to make further acquisitions without raising any common equity, allowing us to grow our CAFD per share." With other sources of capital at its disposal, this alleviates one of the risks that would have led to a dividend cut: selling shares of its own stock.
Don't get me wrong. This isn't a zero-risk investment, and it shouldn't be counted on for income you can't live without. But if you can stomach a small amount of risk that the payout might be cut, the opportunity to capture a very high yield is worth it, in my book. Add in the long-term growth prospects as renewable energy takes more share from fossil fuels, and Pattern is an excellent investment for retirement savers.