You don't need a fortune to start investing -- beginning with increments of just $100 can quickly add up over time. If you invest that amount every month, you've put aside $1,200 for the year. Do that every year for 25 years, and that's $30,000 in your portfolio. It's not going to be enough for you to retire on, but getting in a habit of saving and investing can help make your retirement much easier and more enjoyable. And the more you can contribute, the better off you'll be.
A great way to further that money is through dividend growth stocks. And three of the best ones out there that you can invest in today are Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY -0.03%), Fortis (FTS), and Cisco Systems (CSCO -0.74%).
1. Bristol Myers Squibb
Drugmaker Bristol Myers Squibb increased its dividend payments for the 12th straight year in 2020. Its quarterly dividend of $0.49 is 8.9% higher than the $0.45 the company was paying out a year earlier. Going back five years to 2016, Bristol Myers Squibb was paying its shareholders $0.38 per quarter, meaning the company has increased the dividend by 29% since then, averaging a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.2%.
If the company were to continue raising its dividend at that rate, then in another five years, its quarterly dividend payments could grow to $0.63. That would mean you could be earning 3.7% on an investment made in the stock today, up from its current yield of 2.9% -- which is still well above the S&P 500 average of about 1.3%.
There is never a guarantee that a company will continue paying a dividend (much less increase it). But a good way for investors to gauge the likelihood of that happening, as well as the overall health of the business, is by looking at the bottom line. For 2021, Bristol Myers Squibb projects that its earnings per share will fall within a range of $2.77 to $2.97. Even the low end of that guidance would result in a payout ratio of 71%, which is sustainable.
The company's focus on oncology makes Bristol Myers Squibb a relatively stable business to invest in for the long haul. And its now-completed acquisition of biopharmaceutical company Celgene gives the company a broader portfolio and pipeline to work with, which should set up the business for some great growth opportunities in the future.
Utility stocks like Fortis can be great places to park your money for years. The company pays a dividend yield of 3.5%, the highest on this list. But what might be even more attractive about this income stock is that Fortis has been raising its dividend payments for 47 years in a row. Three more years of rate hikes and the stock will become a Dividend King.
And it's a pretty safe bet that this will happen; in the past four years, the company's profit margin hasn't fallen below 12%. During that time, Fortis has brought in at least 2.6 billion Canadian dollars in operating cash flow each year. With remarkable consistency and a payout ratio of less than 60%, it's nearly a guarantee that the business will continue raising its dividend payments.
The company projects that it will raise its dividend payments by 6% annually at least until 2025. If that were to happen, then by the end of 2025, the stock would be paying roughly CA$0.68 every quarter. And if the current exchange rate of 1.25 were to remain the same, that would result in an annual dividend of $2.20, allowing investors to earn a 4.7% dividend on today's investment.
If you're looking for a buy-and-forget type of stock, it's hard to go wrong with a stalwart like Fortis.
3. Cisco Systems
Cisco is one of the few tech stocks that you'll find on a list like this, simply because tech companies are often too busy growing aggressively to be paying out a dividend (or they aren't profitable). But Cisco is no earnings slouch. The 22% profit margin it has averaged over the past two fiscal years is even better than Fortis's bottom line.
The business provides companies with networking products, cloud computing solutions, and many other products and services that will be in need as companies move onto the cloud. From that standpoint, the future looks bright for Cisco. Regardless of whether you think remote work is here to stay, there's little doubt that there will be more growth opportunities here, with analysts from Grand View Research projecting that the cloud computing market will grow by a CAGR of more than 19% until 2028.
Cisco has been increasing its dividend payments since 2012, and while its streak hasn't been terribly long, the payouts have been rising at an impressive rate. Over the past five years, the company has increased dividend payments by a CAGR of 7.3%. If it were to maintain that rate, then five years from now it could be generating 3.7% in dividends (based on today's price), up from today's yield of 2.6%.
With a bright future and some terrific margins, Cisco is another safe dividend stock income investors can comfortably hold in their portfolios for many years.