The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) is a popular dividend payer for good reason. First, it offers a high yield (calculated by dividing the past year of dividends by the current stock price). As of this writing, Coca-Cola stock yields 3.5%, well above the 1.9% yield of the S&P 500.
Coca-Cola is also a Dividend King, part of an elite group of companies that have paid and raised their dividends every year for at least 50 consecutive years. Coca-Cola has kept its streak up for 57 years, pleasing shareholders with its long-term reliability.
What constitutes a good-paying dividend stock isn't entirely objective, though -- there are multiple ways you can think about it. In that vein, here are three dividend stocks that pay better than Coca-Cola but in distinct ways.
If you're just looking for a stock with a higher dividend yield than Coca-Cola, feast your eyes on telecommunications giant AT&T (NYSE:T), which currently yields 6.8%. Its stock is down over 20% in 2020, which pushes the yield higher than normal. However, AT&T's dividend yield has been higher than Coca-Cola's for decades.
AT&T competes in the telecommunications industry, an industry with few players and high barriers to entry. The competition is nonetheless stiff and can limit the company's ability to raise payouts. And the business has high capital requirements like the cost of rolling out an upgraded 5G network, resulting in a heavy debt load. This can limit the stock's upside.
However, AT&T does more than just provide mobile service. It also owns media assets like WarnerMedia. This division is hurting right now, because COVID-19 closed movie theaters. However, there's still much opportunity from the launch of streaming services like HBO Max. This likely won't make the stock go up enough to make you a millionaire, but the business is diverse enough for shareholders to expect continued high-yield payouts for the foreseeable future.
Better payout ratio
Household appliance company Whirlpool (NYSE:WHR) has a dividend yield virtually identical to that of Coca-Cola. It yields about 3.4%, compared to Coke's 3.5%.
The dividend yield is comparable, but Whirlpool pays "better" because of its lower payout ratio. This metric is calculated by dividing the dividends per share by the net earnings per share (EPS). The higher the payout ratio, the greater the chances of a static or decreasing dividend in the future. At the very least, future dividend hikes will be limited without the profits to support their growth.
Coca-Cola's payout ratio is currently 68%. By contrast, Whirlpool's payout ratio is 36%. This provides a better buffer in tough times. Because of COVID-19, Whirlpool's management expects organic net sales to fall 10% to 15% this year. That will hurt profitability, but the company has breathing room and is committed to the dividend.
Right now, very few companies have dividend streaks as impressive as Coca-Cola's. That's because it's not easy, and even former Dividend Aristocrats like Bank of America and GE eventually had their streaks broken. For that reason, it's fair to wonder how many more years Coca-Cola has of keeping up this streak. I'm not suggesting a cut is imminent, but as its payout ratio creeps higher, its streak will likely come to an end some day.
Whirlpool offers a competitive yield but with a lower payout ratio. In my opinion, that's a better dividend.
Better dividend growth
Finally, Domino's Pizza (NYSE:DPZ) also offers a better dividend than Coca-Cola for long-term investors. You might think I'm crazy as the stock yields a piddly 0.8%. However, Domino's provides far superior dividend growth that can pay better over a lifetime. Consider the trajectory of its dividend over the past five years.
Domino's Pizza generated $411 million in free cash flow in 2019, up 50% from 2018. That allows the company to be very generous to its shareholders as Domino's returned $805 million to them in 2019 through share repurchases and dividends. But the dividend was still relatively small, making up just $106 million of that total.
Domino's most recently raised its dividend 20%, and it has the firepower to continue increasing the payout for some time. U.S. same-store sales are soaring, up 16% in the fiscal second quarter alone. Expect the pizza chain to continue expanding the top and bottom line, providing more opportunity for future dividend growth.
With a 20% annual raise, Domino's could double its dividend in under four years. True, it won't be able to continue at that rate forever. But this presently small dividend could easily provide whopping payouts later for investors willing to ride it out long term. You won't see this counterintuitive perspective often, but taking the long view is the best way to invest in stocks -- even dividend stocks.