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2 Top Dividend Stocks You Can Buy and Hold Forever

By Reuben Gregg Brewer – Sep 9, 2021 at 9:15AM

Key Points

  • Looking for solid yields in a low-yield world? They're still possible to find if you know where to look.
  • This packaged food maker is working to adjust with the times, but investors are worried it might stumble. History suggests it won't.
  • This utility is nearly as boring as watching paint dry -- which is why its historically high yield is so attractive.

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If you're looking for safe stocks with reliable income streams, here are two that fit the bill.

The stock market is trading near all-time highs and the yield on the S&P 500 Index is a remarkably low 1.3%. As such, it's hard for income investors to find dividend stocks worth buying right now. But that doesn't mean it's impossible. Here are two companies with great histories and reliable businesses that dividend-focused investors could easily buy and hold for a lifetime.

Shifting gears from cereal to snacks

The Kellogg Company (K 0.86%) is a name you probably associate with the cereal aisle in your local grocery store -- it is, after all, one of the largest names in that food sector niche. But its collection of cereal brands only accounts for about a third of its revenues today, because Kellogg has been making an effort to diversify with a focus on more growth-oriented areas.

Now, frozen foods, including meatless alternatives, make up around 13% of revenue. And snacks, including top-of-mind brands like Pringles and Cheez-Its, account for the rest -- just over half of the revenue pie.

A person using their finger to show an up trend with the word dividend superimposed in front of them.

Image source: Getty Images.

What's nice to see here is that Kellogg has taken specific actions to adjust to the changing market around it, including jettisoning older brands with slower growth rates. This is exactly what you want to see a company do. And, despite the big overhaul, Kellogg has continued to reward investors with regular dividend increases. It has boosted its payout for 17 consecutive years. For income investors, it's important to note that the packaged food powerhouse didn't cut its dividend prior to the start of that streak -- it simply held it steady for a couple of years.

To be fair, the company's overhaul was relatively recent and the food space has been through a very unusual period, first with the coronavirus and now with rising inflation. So Kellogg really hasn't had a chance to demonstrate how its new approach is working against a "clean" backdrop. But if you examine results using a two-year annualized look back (to smooth out the pandemic-driven demand bump), the company appears to be going in the right direction.

Right now, however, investors are still in a "show me" mood, and Kellogg's stock is around 25% below its 2016 highs. The 3.6% dividend yield, while not as attractive as it was earlier in 2021, is still relatively high historically speaking and well above the average yield for the broader market. All in all, if you are looking for a company that is shifting to meet consumer desires, offers a relatively good payout, and has a proven record of placing a priority on its dividend, Kellogg is worth a close look today.

Boring can be beautiful -- and powerful

There's no point in sugarcoating it -- Consolidated Edison (ED -0.51%), aka Con Ed, is a very boring utility, providing electricity, natural gas, and steam to New York City and its surrounding areas. On the plus side, at current share prices, its yield is about 4%, which is toward the high end of its range over the past decade. It's also roughly one full percentage point higher than the average utility, using the Vanguard Utilities Index ETF as a proxy, so the stock looks relatively attractive right now.

K Dividend Per Share (Quarterly) Chart

K Dividend Per Share (Quarterly) data by YCharts

But what really sets this utility apart is its 47-year streak of annual dividend increases. The payout doesn't grow quickly, but it clearly grows reliably. The key here is the vibrant New York market, which is one of the world's most important business hubs. While the pandemic has some people worried that big cities will never be the same, history suggests they will bounce back, and likely continue to grow and thrive because of the jobs, entertainment, and educational opportunities they provide.

One more interesting nuance with Con Ed is that it largely gets paid for the use of its transmission assets and simply passes on the cost of power to customers. That should help to insulate it as renewable power gains in importance. This is not an exciting stock, but with a 4% yield, a reliable business, and an incredible history of annual dividend hikes, it could be a great addition to your dividend stock portfolio.

Dig in

Between these two companies, Kellogg probably has more long-term growth potential, while Con Ed shares can provide a solid foundation for a diversified portfolio. Both look like they could be smart stock picks in today's low-yield world.

Reuben Gregg Brewer owns shares of Kellogg. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Kellogg Stock Quote
Kellogg
K
$73.83 (0.86%) $0.63
Consolidated Edison Stock Quote
Consolidated Edison
ED
$97.35 (-0.51%) $0.50

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

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