If there's anything the stock market reminded retirees of this year, it's that chasing performance is tricky and stressful. That is to say, if what happens over the course of a few months takes a concerning toll on your retirement portfolio's value or your mental health, you may not be positioned quite right. You could probably do with a little less exposure to the hot stocks du jour, and a little more exposure to income-producing picks that will pay you a dividend regardless of what's going on around you.
To that end, current and future retirees looking for a little less excitement and a little more reliable income may want to consider stakes in Walmart (NYSE:WMT), Public Storage (NYSE:PSA), or Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK). Here's why.
Dividend yield: 1.4%
Consecutive annual increases: 47
You know the company. In fact, odds are good that you -- like 90% of the people living in the United States -- live within ten miles of a Walmart store. That's the point. With more than 3500 supercenters peppered across the nation, along with hundreds of neighborhood markets and Sam's Club warehouses, this retailer has become part of our daily shopping routines. There are more than 6000 other Walmart stores found overseas too, which in a similar fashion have become the go-to shopping solution for those markets.
The current dividend yield of 1.4% isn't going to win any awards. But there's more to the story. The company has raised that dividend every year for the past 47 years, and there's no particular reason to believe Walmart's commitment to its increased payout is waning.
The case for retirees owning Walmart isn't just about income growth, though. A stake in Walmart is also a worry-free chance to participate in the country's (and the world's for that matter) ongoing economic growth. The retailer is not only big enough now that it can keep competitors like Target in check, but it's becoming a lifestyle-minded brand as well. Company-owned full service health clinics, health insurance, subscription-based deliveries to shoppers' homes, an e-commerce partnership with Shopify, and a pilot program of what looks a whole lot like Best Buy's Geek Squad all suggest the traditional retailer is reimagining itself as a lifestyle company. That brings more people into its ecosystem more often.
Dividend yield: 3.6%
Consecutive annual increases: 0*
Americans have a problem. We struggle to let go of possessions we know we're not using. It's so bad that once we run out of room in our closets and basements, we then rent space away from home just to store our idle stuff.
Enter Public Storage, which rents out 170 million square feet to U.S. and European consumers who just can't seem to part with whatever it is people typically shove into storage. That makes the company the world's biggest self-storage solutions provider.
It's a surprisingly solid business to be in. The coronavirus pandemic interrupted what was a pretty reliable revenue and income growth cadence, but that headwind had as much to do with lockdown logistics as it had to do with waning demand. Now that those hurdles are being lowered, we're seeing occupancy improve. Last quarter's occupancy rate of 95.5% was up from the year-ago level of 94.2%, and up from the second quarter's same level.
It's a subtle sign that the industry is likely to remain as resilient as it's been for decades now.
Public Storage is organized as a real estate investment trust, or REIT. These structures are a tax-efficient way to pass rental income along to the shareholders that ultimately own these storage units.
* Public Storage hasn't raised its quarterly dividend payment of $2.00 since 2017, for the record, but it hasn't lowered it either. Given that its funds from operations (FFO) payout ratio is only about 75% while the company continues to expand its footprint as well as its top and bottom lines, a dividend hike could be on the horizon. Even if not, though, it's a healthy income holding.
Dividend yield: 4.2%
Consecutive annual increases: 7
Finally, it's cliche to add a utility name to a list of dividend stocks perfectly suited for retirement portfolios. But it's cliche for all the right reasons. These companies are reliable dividend payers because their customers typically want to ensure their power stays on.
Unlike many of its sector peers, Duke Energy isn't one of the market's few dividend aristocrats that have upped their annual payouts for at least 25 consecutive years. Duke has been raising its quarterly payout steadily since 2013, from $0.765 to $0.965. But it was stuck at $0.62 per quarter for several years before that.
Don't let the lack of pedigree deter you from this proven player, though. The company's management seems to be acting like they'd like to see Duke Energy reach that esteemed status.
Perhaps the most compelling reason a retiree or soon-to-retire-investor would want to step into this stock sooner rather than later, however, is the fact that it's preparing for the inevitable future on its own terms. In early October it announced it was earmarking around $130 billion to start phasing out coal power while it ramps up its use of renewable energy sources. Around that same time, the company announced it would be expanding its electric vehicle charging offerings into South Carolina, reflecting rapid changes in the world of automobiles.
It's not easy to determine how, or how much, these efforts will affect its bottom line. But it is reasonable to say the company is better served by being ready for whatever regulation and opportunity the future may hold.