For those of you who have reached the age when you can collect Social Security benefits, you know that your monthly check likely isn't going to take you as far as you'd like to support your retirement. This year, the agency paid an average monthly benefit of about $1,500 to retirees.
But that doesn't mean you need to cut back on your plans. You can add to your Social Security income by investing in dividend-paying stocks, although you'll want to ensure that the company will continue making payments. These two companies have an impressive track record in not only maintaining their dividends but regularly increasing them.
Colgate-Palmolive (CL 0.57%) sells toothpaste and toothbrushes under the Colgate name. It is so well recognized that it commands about 40% of the global market. But the company also sells other products such as popular soap and dishwashing brands like Palmolive, Irish Spring, and Ajax, deodorants such as Speed Stick, and pet nutrition products for dogs and cats. A global powerhouse, the company sells these products in more than 200 countries.
Since these are everyday products that people need, they do well regardless of the economic cycle. You can see that by looking at the most recent results. Despite the pandemic and ensuing economic weakness, its third-quarter adjusted sales rose by 7.5% versus a year ago as more products flew off the shelves, and Colgate was also able to raise prices.
With a strong and steadily increasing demand for its products, Colgate generates a nice amount of cash flow. For the first nine months of the year, its operating cash flow was $2.8 billion and the company spent $249 million on capital expenditures. This free cash flow was plenty to pay the $1.2 billion of dividends.
It's no wonder that Colgate has built an impressive dividend streak, paying one since 1895 and increasing the payout annually for the last 57 years. This puts the company in a rarefied group as a Dividend King -- a member of the S&P 500 that has raised dividends for at least 50 consecutive years. Currently, the dividend yield is 2.1%.
Kroger (KR 0.25%) is a 137-year-old supermarket chain that has grown to become one of the world's largest retailers when measured by annual sales. It continues to increase sales while facing formidable competition from the likes of Amazon and Walmart.
This isn't the most exciting business, but the company has managed slow and steady sales growth by offering food, gas, and pharmaceuticals. In fiscal 2019, its same-store sales excluding gas sales increased by 2%, and had been increasing over the prior couple of years. This year, with the pandemic forcing people to stay at home more, its sales growth accelerated, with third-quarter (ended Nov. 7) comps rising by 10.9%.
While this rate is tough to replicate going forward, it does demonstrate that Kroger's business does well in various environments, including during bad times when people eat out less.
Its business also brings in a lot of cash, with operating cash flow totaling $5.9 billion for the first nine months of this year. Free cash flow was $3.8 billion after subtracting the $2.1 billion of capital expenditures. This should give you comfort that the company can easily afford its dividends, which were $395 million.
While Kroger doesn't have the same dividend track record as Colgate, it has raised the payout for 14 years in a row. Earlier this year, it started paying an $0.18 dividend, up from $0.16. The stock's dividend yield is 2.3%.
No one said these were the most exciting investments. But they provide stable growth and are reliable dividend payers. That will allow you to increase your income rather than relying solely on Social Security. That will help you fund the kind of retirement that you want, and there's nothing more exciting than that.