Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

3 Best-Performing Dividend Aristocrats in the First Half of 2020: Are They Buys Now?

By Keith Speights – Jul 7, 2020 at 5:41AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Exceptional dividend track records. Exceptional stock performances in the first six months of the year.

Claiming impressive track records of 25 or more consecutive years of dividend increases wasn't enough to translate to solid performances during the first half of 2020. Even with the overall market rebound in the second quarter, more than twice as many Dividend Aristocrats were in negative territory year to date after the first six months of 2020 than were up for the year.

But there were still some big winners among the group. Several even chalked up double-digit gains. Here are the three best-performing Dividend Aristocrats during the first half of the year.

Piece of paper with dividends printed on it on top of $100 bills

Image source: Getty Images.

1. S&P Global

S&P Global (SPGI -1.40%) is one of only 24 S&P 500 index members to have increased its dividend for 47 consecutive years. And it was the top-performing Dividend Aristocrat in the first half of 2020, with a gain of nearly 21%.

Most financial stocks performed poorly as the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the economy. S&P Global, however, was an exception to the rule. The company focuses on selling data and analytics to clients. Although its business model didn't totally insulate S&P Global from the overall beatdown in the financial services sector, its shares rebounded rapidly.

It's too soon to completely rule out headwinds for S&P Global resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak. A prolonged recession could hurt some of the company's clients and affect its new sales and subscription renewals. For now, though, S&P Global's business appears to be going full-steam ahead -- as is its dividend.

2. Lowe's

Lowe's (LOW 0.01%) ranks in the upper echelon of Dividend Aristocrats with a remarkable 57 consecutive years of dividend hikes. The home improvement retailer's stock performance was also among the best among the group during the first six months of the year, with Lowes' shares jumping nearly 13%.

The COVID-19 pandemic actually helped Lowe's. The company was declared an essential business and was able to keep its stores open across the country. Consumers who were stuck at home under shelter-in-place orders opted to embark on home-improvement projects. Lowe's reported 12% higher comparable-store sales in its fiscal first quarter, which ended on May 1, 2020, with rising profits.

CEO Marvin Ellison said in Lowe's quarterly update that the great performance continued beyond the end of the first quarter. However, the company has still suspended share repurchases because of the pandemic and doesn't expect to buy back any additional shares in 2020. 

3. AbbVie

AbbVie (ABBV 0.04%) trailed Lowe's in terms of stock performance during the first half of the year with a gain of 11%. But the big pharma stock narrowly beat the home-improvement giant in total returns thanks to its strong dividend yield. Including its time as part of parent Abbott Labs (ABT -0.39%), AbbVie has increased its dividend for 47 years.

The solid first-half jump stemmed in part from AbbVie easily beating Wall Street's Q1 revenue and earnings estimates. AbbVie's top-selling drug Humira performed well. Several other drugs also picked up momentum, including new immunology drugs Rinvoq and Skyrizi and blood cancer drug Venclexta. 

There were also other wins for AbbVie in the first half of 2020. Its acquisition of Allergan closed. The drugmaker scored a key patent litigation victory for Humira. It also inked a significant licensing and collaboration deal with GenMab

Are they buys now?

I think that two of these three Dividend Aristocrats are still pretty good picks after their nice gains. The exception is S&P Global. I'm somewhat leery of S&P Global's valuation with shares trading at 33 times expected earnings. Lowe's and AbbVie, on the other hand, seem like solid picks. I like the long-term trends for home improvement. My view is that AbbVie will effectively navigate the loss of U.S. patent exclusivity for Humira. 

Keith Speights owns shares of AbbVie. The Motley Fool recommends Lowe's. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Lowe's Companies, Inc. Stock Quote
Lowe's Companies, Inc.
$188.13 (0.01%) $0.01
S&P Global Inc. Stock Quote
S&P Global Inc.
$317.86 (-1.40%) $-4.51
AbbVie Inc. Stock Quote
AbbVie Inc.
$143.06 (0.04%) $0.05
Abbott Laboratories Stock Quote
Abbott Laboratories
$100.68 (-0.39%) $0.39
Genmab A/S Stock Quote
Genmab A/S
$31.83 (-4.53%) $-1.51

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 09/25/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.