Aristocracy isn't all it's cracked up to be. You'd think that stocks that are Dividend Aristocrats -- members of the S&P 500 with at least 25 consecutive years of dividend increases -- would by default have really attractive dividends. Many of them don't. And quite a few of those with relatively puny dividend yields haven't delivered impressive growth, either.
However, there are stocks in this elite group that provide either a juicy dividend, solid growth prospects, or both. You don't even need a lot of upfront money to invest in these promising dividend stocks. Here are the three smartest Dividend Aristocrats to buy with $500 right now, in my opinion.
You won't find too many stocks that offer a more attractive dividend than AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV). Its dividend yield currently stands at 4.42%. The drugmaker is only one dividend hike away from becoming a Dividend King -- the highest level of dividend royalty reserved for S&P 500 members with 50 or more consecutive years of dividend increases.
AbbVie is a spin-off from another Dividend Aristocrat, Abbott Labs. Since the two companies separated in 2013, AbbVie has increased its dividend by a whopping 225%.
There's one glaring issue with AbbVie, though. In 2023, sales for the company's best-selling drug, Humira, will inevitably begin to decline with the launches of biosimilar rivals in the U.S. market. AbbVie knows that this is going to pull down its overall revenue.
The good news is that the decline should only be temporary. AbbVie predicts that it will return to growth in 2024 after one down year. And over the rest of the decade, the company expects robust growth as sales for its other products increase.
Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) is one of those Dividend Aristocrats I mentioned earlier that doesn't provide a dividend that's going to fire up many investors. Its yield currently stands at 1.64% -- not horrible but not awe-inspiring, either.
However, Lowe's makes up for its modest dividend with not-so-modest growth. Last year, the home improvement retailer's shares trounced the market, soaring 34%. So far in 2021, Lowe's stock is again beating the market with a gain of 24%.
Look for this momentum to continue. The current housing boom isn't over. Even though interest rates will rise somewhat, they'll likely still be near historic lows. The work-from-home trend won't disappear. As people move from apartments in big cities to their own houses in less expensive locations, it should lead to more home improvement projects.
Wall Street analysts expect that Lowe's will deliver average annual earnings growth of more than 19% over the next five years. That's well above the earnings growth for the company over the last five years, a period when Lowe's stock jumped nearly 150%.
Like AbbVie, PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) is getting close to becoming a Dividend King. The company recently announced its 49th consecutive annual dividend increase. Pepsi's yield currently stands at 2.77%, which is a lot better than many of its fellow Dividend Aristocrats offer.
The consumer packaged goods giant also continues to deliver strong growth. Pepsi handily beat Wall Street analysts' estimates with its second-quarter results. Its overall organic revenue jumped 13% year over year with earnings per share soaring 27%.
Perhaps the most striking thing about Pepsi is the resilience of its business. The company has successfully navigated major changes in consumer preferences in the beverage and snacks markets in recent years as well as a global pandemic.
Analysts project around 9% average annual earnings growth for Pepsi over the next five years, much higher than the company's growth rate over the last few years. With an attractive dividend combined with solid growth prospects, I think that Pepsi stock could deliver market-beating total returns over the next decade.