Sifting through the numerous dividend-paying stocks to find the best of the best isn't easy. A few of our Motley Fool contributors have done the hard work for you and found three top dividend stocks to add to your portfolio right now. Here's what you need to know about Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD), General Motors (NYSE:GM), and Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH).
Setting itself up well for the future while still being generous to investors
Tyler Crowe (Enterprise Products Partners): This is truly a fascinating time in the American oil and gas industry. So much production is being added to the mix that there isn't enough room in pipelines to move it all. As a result, there is a construction boom to build pipes and processing facilities. For companies that own these kinds of assets, it provides immense opportunities to grow the business. The downside, though, is that it takes monumental amounts of capital to get one of these new assets off the ground.
This construction boom means that some pipeline master limited partnerships have had to make the choice of where to use their cash. Continue to pay high-yield distributions to investors and grow them at a steady clip or slash payouts to put more money toward construction? Fortunately, Enterprise Products Partners hasn't had to make such a choice thanks to the way its management team has approached the business for decades.
Enterprise Products Partners has, historically, maintained one of the best balance sheets in the pipeline business and has consistently retained lots of cash to reinvest in the business. This approach meant that when it wanted to ramp up spending on new projects, it could do so by simply slowing the growth rate of its distribution. This decision last year, coupled with several billion in new projects becoming operational, has increased cash flow per unit by 27.7% over the first six months of 2018 compared to this time last year.
Management says that once it can consistently fund $2.5 billion of its capital spending annually with internally generated cash, we can expect distribution growth to ramp back up again. With Enterprise currently yielding 5.9%, this is a great dividend stock worth considering.
A sustainable dividend
Tim Green (General Motors): New car sales are slowing, interest rates are rising, and prices for commodities like steel are being pushed up by tariffs. But GM is making the best of a difficult situation. The automaker's third-quarter report featured solid revenue growth, a big boost to the bottom line, and improved margins driven by a shift toward larger, more expensive vehicles. GM expects to produce about $6 in per-share adjusted earnings this year, although it could exceed that guidance if things go right in the fourth quarter.
For dividend investors, what matters is sustainability. GM pays a $0.38-per-share quarterly dividend, good for a dividend yield of about 4.2%. The yield is so high and GM's single-digit price-to-earnings ratio is so low because the market is expecting big trouble when the next downturn hits. But GM is well positioned to weather just about any storm. A conservative dividend policy coupled with plenty of cash on hand will keep the dividend checks coming for the foreseeable future.
GM's dividend accounts for just 25% of its adjusted earnings guidance. On top of that earnings cushion, the company's balance sheet can support the dividend for some time even if earnings tumble. GM has around $18 billion in cash, and it intends to pay the dividend through a recession. The company expects its cash reserves to take a $5 billion hit during the first year of a moderate recession. In other words, the dividend will be safe under a wide range of scenarios.
GM is a stock that will probably bounce around as the market reacts to trade news and other developments. But if you can ignore the noise, GM is a cheap, high-yield stock that should pay off in the long run.
Short-term concern makes this healthcare-based dividend value stock a buy
Sean Williams (Cardinal Health): With investors worrying about a potentially toppy market, it might be time to put value stocks back on your radar. And the best thing about value stocks is that they often pay a healthy dividend.
Take medical supply-chain company Cardinal Health as the perfect example. It's predominantly been left in the dust by a high-growth market since it's traditionally a mid-single-digit growth business. It also hasn't helped that the company has taken write-offs for its Cordis medical device segment, as well as dealt with weaker-than-expected generic-drug pricing in 2018. Year to date, Cardinal Health is off by 16%, and it's more than 40% below its all-time high, set in 2015.
Yet for all the worry surrounding Cardinal Health, from generic-drug pricing to increased competition, Wall Street continues to overlook the fact that nearly all of its issues can be dealt with in a short time frame.
For example, a lot has been made about the company's issues with Cordis and its supply chain. A handful of charges have resulted in weaker-than-expected quarterly profits. But what's being overlooked is that even with Cordis' supply chain issues, the segment is growing by a mid-single-digit percentage. Eventually, Cardinal Health is going to get its supply chain for Cordis corrected, which should lead to an interim boost in operational efficiency.
We're also beginning to see what looks like an end to generic-drug price weakness. For as weak as generic drug pricing has been in recent quarters, let's not forget that generic usage is only going to rise over time as branded drugs lose their exclusivity and brand-name drug pricing soars. Over the long run, generic drugmakers and suppliers should have significant volume advantages and pricing power.
Based on the company's forward price-to-earnings ratio of less than 10, it's cheaper now than it's been since 2008. Tack on a healthy yield of 3.6%, and you have an intriguing dividend value stock worth adding to your portfolio.
Sean Williams has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Timothy Green owns shares of General Motors. Tyler Crowe owns shares of Enterprise Products Partners. The Motley Fool recommends Enterprise Products Partners. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.