Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) has raised its dividend for 58 straight years, making it a Dividend King of the S&P 500, meaning it's maintained annual dividend hikes for over half a century. Those reliable payments -- along with Coca-Cola's wide moat, well-diversified portfolio, and robust cash flows -- have locked in income investors for decades.
However, Coca-Cola's forward yield of 3.2% might not impress investors who are seeking bigger dividends. Investors should never buy stocks solely based on their yields, but there are still plenty of dependable blue-chip stocks that pay more generous yields than Coca-Cola. Let's take a closer look at three of those stocks: Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and IBM (NYSE:IBM).
Philip Morris International
Philip Morris International, the former international segment of Altria (NYSE:MO), was spun off as a stand-alone company in 2008. It's raised its dividend every year since then, and it currently pays a forward yield of 6.2%. It spent 78% of its FCF on those payments over the past 12 months.
PMI pays a lower dividend than Altria, but it's a better investment for three reasons. First, PMI is diversified across many countries with variable smoking rates and excise taxes, while Altria is completely dependent on the declining U.S. market and its rising state excise taxes.
Second, PMI is diversifying its business away from traditional cigarettes with its iQOS heatsticks. Altria also recently started selling iQOS devices in the U.S. via a partnership with PMI, but the new product line's revenue still likely accounts for a larger slice of PMI's total revenue.
Lastly, PMI didn't make desperate investments like Altria, which bought stakes in the e-cigarette maker Juul and the cannabis company Cronos, to stay relevant. It also didn't rely on buybacks, as Altria did, to boost its EPS.
Last year, PMI's revenue and earnings rose 6% and 2%, respectively, on a like-for-like basis as it raised its cigarette prices and launched iQOS in new markets. Analysts expect its revenue and earnings to decline 4% and 1%, respectively, this year, due to pandemic-related disruptions.
But next year, they expect its revenue and earnings to rise 8% and 11%, respectively, as it moves past those headwinds. Those are solid growth rates for a stock that trades at 14 times forward earnings.
Verizon, the largest wireless carrier in the U.S., has raised its dividend for 14 straight years. It currently pays a forward yield of 4.1%, and it spent just 53% of its free cash flow (FCF) on its dividend over the past 12 months.
Verizon pays a lower dividend than its rival AT&T (NYSE:T), but its growth is arguably more stable. That's because Verizon still generates most of its revenue from its wireless business, while AT&T is struggling to integrate WarnerMedia's massive media unit and expand its streaming media services to offset its ongoing loss of pay TV subscribers.
Verizon's revenue and adjusted earnings rose 1% and 2%, respectively, last year. Wall Street expects its revenue to dip 3% this year -- mainly due to the pandemic's impact on smartphone sales and Verizon Media, which houses AOL and Yahoo's internet assets -- but for its earnings to rise 1% as it reins in its spending.
Next year, analysts expect Verizon's revenue and earnings to rise 4% and 3%, respectively, as new 5G phones hit the market and the pandemic headwinds wane. Those growth rates aren't exciting, but the stock is cheap at 12 times forward earnings, and the top telco should easily weather any of the incoming macro headwinds.
IBM became a Dividend Aristocrat of the S&P 500 this April after it raised its dividend for the 25th straight year. The tech giant currently pays a forward yield of 5.2%, and it spent 46% of its FCF on that dividend over the past 12 months.
IBM's stock looks cheap at 11 times forward earnings, but its revenue and earnings have been declining in recent years. It struggled to expand its higher-growth cloud-based businesses as its legacy software, hardware, and IT services segments repeatedly offset its hard-fought gains. Intense competition from Amazon, Microsoft, and other cloud giants further throttled its growth.
As a result, Big Blue's revenue and adjusted earnings fell 3% and 7%, respectively, last year. For the current year, analysts expect IBM's revenue and earnings to decline another 4% and 34%, respectively, as the pandemic exacerbates the declines of its legacy businesses.
Yet there are still reasons to be hopeful. IBM's new CEO Arvind Krishna, who previously led its cloud unit, plans to spin off its slow-growth IT services unit next year. Krishna plans to then expand IBM's presence in the hybrid cloud market, which straddles the private and public clouds, instead of going head-to-head against Amazon and Microsoft in the public cloud. Krishna believes Red Hat, the open source software company IBM acquired last year, will unlock that market's growth with AI and analytics services and boost its total revenue again.
If Krishna's turnaround plan works, IBM could finally start growing again. But for now, the stock's low valuation and high yield should limit its downside potential as the gears finally start turning.