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3 Dividend Stocks That Are Perfect for Retirement

By James Brumley - Jan 18, 2021 at 11:20AM

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Reliable payout growth and readiness for the future are just as important as a stock's current dividend yield.

If you're currently retired or nearing that time in your life, you likely already know your portfolio should be at least a little less aggressive, and a little more reliable -- particularly when it comes to income. After all, your paychecks are about to end if they haven't already, and Social Security checks alone probably won't cut it.

With this as the backdrop, investors on the hunt for dividend-paying names to hold headed into and through retirement may want to consider Automatic Data Processing (ADP 2.92%), Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB 1.29%), and The AES Corporation (AES 1.96%). Here's a closer look at all three.

A roll of $100 bills sitting next to a small "dividends" sign.

Image source: Getty Images.

Automatic Data Processing

Dividend yield: 2.3%

Dividend compound annual growth rate (CAGR) (5 year): 11.4%

Automatic Data Processing isn't the kind of company that makes its way onto many investors' radars. That's because it's boring. The organization processes payroll checks for companies that prefer to outsource such work. ADP has also added other human resource management tools to its platform, like recruitment and employee time clocks. It's not a high-growth business, and there's no real defensive moat that prevents others from entering the market.

But there's a noteworthy nuance of Automatic Data Processing's business model that income-minded retirees have to appreciate. That's recurring revenue. Its client companies pay ADP a regular, predictable monthly fee for access to its services, which translates into a reliable cash flow to support its dividend. To this end, Automatic Data Processing has not only paid a dividend every quarter for decades, it's raised its quarterly payout every year for the past 46 years.

And these haven't been paltry improvements in its payout, at least not of late. The dividend has grown at a compounded annualized pace of more than 11% over the course of the past five years. Actual profit growth has been almost as consistent and impressive. Clearly the company's gotten very good at adding companies to its customer ranks, and keeping them once they're in the fold.

Fifth Third Bancorp

Dividend yield: 3.3%

Dividend CAGR (5 year): 15.7%

Record-low interest rates have proven problematic for banks. Profit margins on loans are directly linked to the prevailing rates at the time. The higher the rate, the more profitable a loan is. The lower the rate, the less profitable lending activities are. Bank of America reported a 17% decline in its third-quarter net interest income. Wells Fargo saw the same sort of net interest income dip for the three-month stretch ending in December. With the exception of Wells Fargo, the biggest names in the business have maintained their dividends. It's not been easy, though, especially in light of the fact that the Federal Reserve's stress tests seem to have gotten tougher under the cloud of the pandemic.

Fifth Third Bancorp has been a curious exception to this headwind. Its Q3 net interest income tumbled, but only a modest 6% year over year. Through the first nine months of 2020, Fifth Third's net interest income is actually up to the tune of 1%. While the regional bank did take some earnings lumps in the first and second quarters of last year, those setbacks were related to costs associated with the handling of the pandemic and not caused by plunging profits on loans. Its third quarter per-share profit of $0.78 is more in line with the norm, and more important, more than enough to cover the current quarterly dividend of $0.27.

With that dividend well protected enough by a surprisingly stable lending business, current and prospective retirees can turn their attention to this bank stock's above-average dividend yield of 3.3% and the double-digit dividend growth rate.

AES Corporation

Dividend yield: 2.2%

Dividend CAGR (5 year): 6.5%

Finally, add utility company AES to your list of dividend stocks that are well-suited for a retirement portfolio.

It may not be a name you're familiar with, but for good reason -- it's relatively small by utility company standards, sporting a market cap of only $18 billion. And a large amount of its power production happens overseas; AES operates on four different continents. A stake in this particular stock automatically comes pre-packaged with a bit of geographic diversity, not to mention the reliability of a utility provider. Consumers may skip a trip to the mall, but they're going to keep the lights turned on.

AES brings a particularly unique edge to the table -- it's prepared for the renewables era of electricity production. The company is the world's fight-biggest solar farm developer, and the world leader of battery-based energy storage. Earlier this month, the utility player inked a deal with Hawaii's Kaua'i Island Utility Cooperative to build and manage the co-op's solar pumped storage facility for its hydro power project. In November, the company forged an agreement with Canada's Alberta Investment Management Corporation to merge its sPower solar energy development platform with AES' clean energy development business. This combined entity will eventually produce 12 gigawatts of power, given current development plans. All told, AES adds between 2 gigawatts and 3 gigawatts of production capacity to its portfolio every year, while it simultaneously sheds coal-powered plants.

It's difficult to quantify how the world's shift away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy will benefit AES. But given that the International Energy Agency forecasts the world's renewable energy power production capacity is on pace to grow 50% between 2019 and 2024, AES Corporation is clearly well-positioned for the future.

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Stocks Mentioned

Automatic Data Processing, Inc. Stock Quote
Automatic Data Processing, Inc.
$224.66 (2.92%) $6.38
Bank of America Corporation Stock Quote
Bank of America Corporation
$37.02 (0.95%) $0.35
Wells Fargo & Company Stock Quote
Wells Fargo & Company
$45.89 (0.64%) $0.29
Fifth Third Bancorp Stock Quote
Fifth Third Bancorp
$39.11 (1.29%) $0.50
The AES Corporation Stock Quote
The AES Corporation
$22.43 (1.96%) $0.43

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

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