Owning dividend stocks can be one of the best ways to beat the market and generate some income along the way. In the consumer-goods sector, retail investors like us may even have some insight into how a company is staying one step ahead of competitors, because we're their target market.
Today, I want to highlight why I think Verizon ( VZ -2.69% ), Las Vegas Sands ( LVS -4.40% ), and Walt Disney ( DIS -1.97% ) are not only great dividend producers today but also companies that are built for growth for decades to come.
The wireless leader
When investing in any dividend-paying company, investors should be keeping a close eye on the stability of cash flow. One business that's extremely stable is wireless telecommunications, and Verizon is both a leading provider and a huge cash generator in its industry.
Over the past decade, Verizon has grown steadily, but it's also generated tens of billions in cash each year. That performance allows it to invest in future technology and infrastructure and also funds the dividend.
One reason I like Verizon's position today is its lead in 5G, a technology that will allow telecommunications companies to serve cell phones with faster service. But the bigger impact will be the ability to offer wireless broadband to homes and businesses, along with fast services to new industries such as self-driving vehicles and virtual reality.
Verizon's stock currently yields 4.2%, and that's with a reasonable payout ratio (the percentage of earnings paid out as a dividend) of 62%. If the company grows as 5G expands, this could be a big-time growth dividend in the wireless telecommunications business that's about as stable as it gets today.
The biggest gaming dividend
You may not think the gaming industry is as stable as telecommunications, and that's partially true, but when thinking about dividends, it's more about cash coming out of the business rather than net income that's important. And casinos like Las Vegas Sands have cash flow in spades.
When a casino resort is built, there can be billions of dollars spent to get the property up and running. But that initial outflow is offset by ongoing revenue that's normally relatively high margin. About one-third of Las Vegas Sands' revenue ultimately becomes operating cash flow:
The gaming industry is more stable than most investors think, and the places where Las Vegas Sands operates -- Las Vegas, Macau, and Singapore -- have limited competition because of space constraints or limited gaming concessions. And with limited supply, there are only so many places for visitors to spend their cash. That's what'll keep the company's dividend coming for years.
More than the House of Mouse
Disney is unique among media companies because of the incredible content assets it owns and the way it monetizes them in more ways than its competitors. Of course, the company owns its traditional Disney studios, but the Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm assets it acquired over the past two decades are now dominating the box office. But the business doesn't end there.
Studio entertainment was a relatively small 13.1% of Disney's total revenue over the first six months of the fiscal year. Media networks make up a bigger 37.9% of revenue, and theme parks are the biggest segment, at 43%. Both of these segments are driven by the studio content, which is then monetized on an ongoing basis through rides at theme parks and unique content on networks.
The one thing missing from Disney's business today is the streaming business, but that's about to change. ESPN, which Disney has an 80% stake in, has already launched ESPN+, but Disney+ will be the big launch in November of this year. Disney has added the 21st Century Fox assets to its lineup, and Disney+ will be the home for everything from Toy Story to Star Wars. It'll be a must-have for millions of consumers from Day One.
Disney doesn't pay the biggest dividend, with a 1.3% yield today, but it's a company set up for growth for decades to come. The way we consume content is changing, but the company with the best content in the world continues to be Disney. And with theaters, streaming, networks, and theme parks all able to monetize that content, it's set to be a cash-flow machine for the foreseeable future.
Stable dividends in consumer goods
Not all companies that deliver consumer goods generate as strong a cash flow stream as Verizon, Las Vegas Sands, and Disney. Each has its own strengths that keeps customers coming back and money flowing in, but the common thread is the excess cash the businesses spit off that ends up in investors' hands. That's why these are dividend stocks investors shouldn't overlook.