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2 Boring but Excellent Dividend Stocks

By Daniel Miller – Updated Nov 23, 2019 at 10:54AM

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Boring can be brilliant when it comes to portfolio returns.

Given a choice, most investors would love to get rich by investing in the next hot stock by riding the next global megatrend to extreme wealth. But chances are that you'll strike out long before you hit a Netflix out of the park for a 25,000% lifetime return.

For investors, boring can be brilliant, and if you have a longtime horizon, investing in dividend stocks can be the simplest way to get rich over time. Here are two stocks that won't take the investing world by storm but are still wonderful for building long-term wealth.

A new way to do business

If you're unaware of Fastenal (FAST 0.15%), it's known as a distributor of a long list of industrial and construction products and parts, although it also has branched out into logistics, consulting, and technology services. 

For decades, Fastenal's growth story revolved around its expanding store count, but recently, management has fine-tuned its strategy to increase the value it offers customers. In recent years, Fastenal has focused on driving growth through vending and inventory management services and on-site programs, as there are multiple benefits to having Fastenal's services and machines on the front lines, rather than only in its retail stores.

Any management team can make vague claims such as innovative solutions, industry expertise, and unmatched commitment, but for a business to be successful, it has to offer customers obvious value. Fastenal's vending machines and on-site programs do just that.

Fastenal's vending machines can stock and track items ranging from eye, hearing, and hand protection to batteries, tape, drill bits, and paints -- or even big-ticket items such as laptops and power tools. When using these vending machines and especially the data tracking behind them, customers are cutting consumption by 30% or more, reducing their inventories, and minimizing the time it takes to find these products or travel to a store for them. Essentially, Fastenal offers its customers a way to work more efficiently and quickly.

For investors, these vending machines help drive incremental revenue because they're the closest point of purchase and also secure a direct link and partnership between Fastenal and its customers. This helps support retention rates and pricing power. Vending machines started as an idea in 2008, and as of June 2019, Fastenal has over 100,000 active devices driving consumption savings for customers and incremental revenue for Fastenal.

FAST Chart

FAST data by YCharts.

Vending machines are just one example of how Fastenal is evolving as a business to strengthen its business partnerships, grow revenue and market share, and utilize its nationwide supply chain advantages to provide these services better than their competitors. As you can see in the graphic above, Fastenal's business might seem boring but it's consistently returned value to shareholders through improving results and higher dividends. Fastenal began paying dividends in 1991, and its current 2.4% yield and roughly 26% payout ratio means it's valuable already and has plenty of room to move higher.

When less is more

Procter & Gamble (PG -0.73%) is a shining example of how to reignite a business. After years of trudging through quarterly reports of slow growth and flat or worse comparable sales, its management decided to slash roughly 100 brands to better focus on higher-growth opportunities. The company whittled down to 65 brands and fine-tuned its marketing and investment strategy, and a glance at the company's five-year stock price chart shows that Wall Street and investors have jumped back onboard.

PG Chart

PG data by YCharts.

Not only did P&G's business improve throughout 2019, accompanied by a rising stock price, but the company took that momentum into its first quarter of fiscal 2020. Organic sales grew 7%, with all 10 global categories increasing. And thanks to the strong first quarter, management bumped up its outlook for the full year on both the top and bottom lines.

P&G's results over the past year or so demonstrate that slashing more than half its brand count and less-lucrative categories was the right long-term move. But don't think that P&G is a lesser company without those brands: Of the 65 brands it still has, 21 generate at least $1 billion in annual sales and another 11 generate at least $500 million.

P&G will always have a long list of massive, valuable and powerful brands. But now that the company is leaner and meaner and generating more tantalizing growth, investors should feel optimistic about holding shares long term for its 2.45% dividend yield.

P&G already has a long history of returning value to shareholders, and that won't change anytime soon. The company has paid dividends for 129 consecutive years, increased its dividend for 63 years, and returned over $135 billion in value to shareholders over the past decade.

A number of shaving razors and packaging

Image source: Procter & Gamble.

P&G has just about everything an investor could want. It offers a valuable and consistently increasing dividend, a slew of billion-dollar brands that own the retail shelf, a secure business as a valued supplier across the nation of retail stores, and improving sales and pricing. These are a great mix for business.

To keep up the momentum, management will have to continue innovating new products, packaging, and marketing campaigns. If its recent turnaround suggests anything, however, it's that management understands how to ignite growth. 

Boring but brilliant

Fastenal and P&G won't make the list of sexy growth stocks that coworkers discuss over a drink at the bar. However, savvy investors shouldn't ignore the two stocks because, in investing, boring can often be brilliant.

Fastenal's move to entrench its vending machines with its customers was a great move to generate incremental revenue, but it also helps its customers save money and see value in its partnership on the front lines. P&G, a maker of everything from razors to fabric softener, is also boring if you're looking to hear the newest business buzzwords or exciting presentations, but the company has everything investors could want, including powerful brand images and products that solve consumers' problems daily.

Yes, boring can be brilliant, and Fastenal and P&G are phenomenal dividend stocks for investors who understand that notion.

Daniel Miller has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Netflix. The Motley Fool is short shares of Procter & Gamble. The Motley Fool recommends Fastenal. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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