A stock dividend is something tangible -- it's not an earnings projection; it's something solid, in hand. A stock dividend is a true return on the investment. Everything else is hope and speculation. -- Richard Russell
Richard Russell is correct, and that's one reason many investors love dividend stocks. It's, for the most part, reliable income that you can reinvest to generate even more income. And while PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) and General Motors (NYSE:GM) are adapting for very different futures, both pay juicy dividend yields topping 3% -- but here's why investors should consider looking closer at these dividend stocks.
More than soda
Some investors are quick to glance past PepsiCo on a dividend stock list simply because they picture it as the same historical soda company, but investors in the know realize the company is much more than only a soda company. The company's products span more than 200 countries and generated over $63 billion last year thanks to brands beyond its namesake Pepsi, including Lays, Tropicana, Quaker, Gatorade, and others. In fact, the company has a staggering 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion in annual sales.
In fact, PepsiCo owns the top seven brands in salty snacks, and roughly 90% of its retail sales from 2017 were from brands with the top, or second, sub-category share position -- it dominates. That said, PepsiCo also realizes snack trends are shifting, and it has focused on adapting for the future with better-for-you category snacks. It has targets to reduce sodium and saturated fat and to improve nutrition in this line of better-for-you snacks by 2025.
PepsiCo has done well with its snacks, which has helped offset declining operating profits in its soda business. There's no question Pepsi needs to figure out how to revive its beverage segment and attract millennial consumers that have driven demand from sugary beverages to healthier options. Pepsi is listening, and it scooped up brands such as KeVita in 2016 and introduced a new product, Bubbly, boasting no sweeteners or artificial flavors.
The juggernaut beverage maker will face headwinds offsetting the decline in sugary beverages, but it's already branched out to other categories such as salty and better-for-you snacks and will continue to acquire and launch new beverages. The good news is the company has an excellent history of returning value to patient shareholders through its dividend. Pepsi recently announced a 15.2% increase in its quarterly dividend to $0.9275, or $3.71 per share annually, for a yield of 3.44%. More impressive is its track record of paying quarterly dividends since 1965, and this year marking its 46th consecutive annual dividend increase.
Pepsi is busy trying to offset the decline in sugary beverages, but it already owns a greater share of the U.S. noncarbonated beverage market than its competitors and has a strong snack business. That's a good start to adapting for the future, and in the meantime, it pays investors a healthy and consistent dividend.
Don't count Detroit out
The next major evolution in the automotive industry will be driverless cars, which are likely to change how we view transportation. A study prepared by Strategy Analytics predicts autonomous vehicles will create an $800 billion economic opportunity as soon as 2035, an opportunity that will eventually grow to $7 trillion by 2050.
Because the monetary potential from driverless car technology is so lucrative, many of the world's top companies are dipping their toes into the business -- from Silicon Valley all the way to Detroit. With companies such as Intel, Alphabet, NVIDIA, and Aptiv, among many others, developing driverless vehicle technology, many have already crossed General Motors off of the list of potential "winners." Counting GM out of the driverless race is a mistake, and what many don't realize is how far General Motors has come with its driverless technology. This spring, GM invested $100 million to upgrade two Michigan factories for mass production of self-driving vehicles, and the automaker plans to deploy its first self-driving car at scale next year as an automated taxi.
GM's driverless vehicle ambitions got a huge credibility boost in May when SoftBank Vision Fund, known for its technology investments, agreed to invest $2.25 billion in GM Cruise -- GM's self-driving subsidiary -- taking a 19.6% stake. That values GM Cruise at roughly $11.5 billion, which is amazing news for a Detroit automaker that has been trying to convince Wall Street its story is much larger than only manufacturing vehicles.
The race is on, and if GM can become a leader in driverless vehicles and the technology that powers them, it could be a very lucrative future for Detroit's largest automaker and its investors. It'll also be a future where Wall Street grants GM a valuation closer to tech companies rather than the paltry 6.1 times forward price-to-earnings ratio currently. In the meantime, as the industry drives toward a lucrative driverless future, GM's quarterly dividend will pay investors $0.38 per share, a healthy 3.8% dividend, while you wait.
Both Pepsi and General Motors are massive juggernaut companies that must adapt to their rapidly evolving industries. Both are very capable of doing so, and getting their more than 3% dividend yield today is a bonus.
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Daniel Miller owns shares of General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A and C shares) and Nvidia. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.