Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

3 Best Dividend Stocks for Retirement

By James Brumley – Nov 17, 2021 at 7:22AM

Key Points

  • Recurring-revenue business models are ideal for supporting continued dividend payments, particularly when prices for such services are predictable and change slowly.
  • Shrinking revenue doesn't necessarily mean a business is failing. Some companies choose to change their business focus in a way that boosts the bottom line even if it crimps sales.
  • Retired investors should make a point of owning companies that have perpetually marketable services and can adapt to ever-evolving marketplaces.

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Investors beyond their working years need picks that balance above-average payouts with reliable longevity.

Are you newly retired? Or is that milestone in your near future? Whatever the case, it's a time in your life your portfolio should probably look at least a bit different from how it looked during your working years. With no work-based income coming in, your investment income is likely to be a key means of paying the bills you'll still be incurring during your golden years.

Not just any dividend stocks will do, though. With less time to rebound from a soured investment (or two), in addition to the need for absolutely reliable income, you're going to want names you know you can count on regardless of the environment. Here are three recommendations to get you started with your search.

The Coca-Cola Company

Dividend yield: 3.0%

The Coca-Cola Company (KO -0.20%) isn't a name that needs much of an introduction. The company's namesake cola has been around since 1886, and it's one of the world's most recognizable brands.

What you may not realize, however, is The Coca-Cola Company isn't just cola. It's not even just carbonated drinks like Sprite or Barq's Root Beer. Coca-Cola is also the name behind a huge portfolio of beverages that includes Dasani waters, Gold Peak teas, Minute Maid juices, and Fresca, to name a few. This wide array of products ensures the company is ready to address the marketplace's ever-changing drink preferences, which in turn means revenue is relatively reliable.

An upright roll of $100 bills beside a small sign reading "dividends."

Image source: Getty Images.

That's not even the most compelling aspect of Coca-Cola to income-minded investors. Even more important is the strategic shift the company has made over the past several years. Beginning in 2016, the beverage giant began scaling out of the bottling business by selling those operations to the bottlers themselves. It would instead focus on growing its franchising and licensing businesses, which generate higher-margin revenue. The end result is a bigger bottom line despite a shrinking top line.

This is the kind of move dividend investors want to see. Whereas the bottling and distribution side of the beverage business is subject to ongoing and unforeseeable challenges -- like inflation -- revenue linked to licensing the sale of its brand names boasts a consistent profit profile that in turn supports a reliable dividend.

Duke Energy

Dividend yield: 3.9%

When's the last time you didn't pay your electricity bill? If you're like many consumers, the answer is probably never. You might postpone a vacation or skip a trip to the mall, but you typically keep the lights on regardless of the cost of doing so. There are just some things you can't live without.

Your reliable payments are of course the reason utility companies are great dividend-paying investments. Revenue is all but assured, and since rates are predictable, so too are profits.

There are many electric utility stocks from which to choose, but one of the best dividend payers in the sector is Duke Energy (DUK -0.08%). Not only is its yield of just under 4% better than most of the similarly sized, comparably risky companies in the business, but Duke's payment history is stellar. It has paid some sort of dividend every quarter for the past 95 years, and perhaps more importantly, the company has raised its dividend payout annually for the past 16 years.

If you're worried the company isn't ready for the now-inevitable transition from polluting forms of power production to carbon-neutral solutions, don't be. Even before environmentally friendly legislation was passed a couple of weeks ago, Duke was targeting a 50% reduction of its CO2 emissions by 2030 en route to being completely carbon-neutral by 2050. It's already got about $60 billion lined up for the effort and a well-conceived plan to reach that goal without disrupting its current revenue and earnings stream. The dividend is going to be fine.

Verizon Communications

Dividend yield: 4.9%

Finally, add Verizon Communications (VZ -0.15%) to your list of great dividend stocks to own in retirement.

Verizon is the country's biggest wireless service provider, accounting for about a third of the entire market. That market is highly saturated with Pew Research reporting that 97% of U.S. adults already own a cellphone of some sort. This in turn means Verizon's growth largely hinges on population growth and poaching other providers' customers. Neither is a foundation for big-time progress. Therefore, shareholders should keep their growth expectations in check as there won't be much.

What Verizon may lack in growth prospects, however, it makes up for in consistency.

Think about it. Just as most consumers find a way to keep their electricity turned on, they also manage to keep their mobile connection to the outside world turned on as well. This means the telecom giant has consistent, predictable revenue. Verizon's chief challenge is keeping spending in check, but as the market's biggest player in the business, it enjoys the cost advantages linked to sheer scale. This is a big part of the reason Verizon has been able to afford 15 straight years of annual dividend increases.

Verizon may only be good for dividend income and a little capital appreciation that keeps up with inflation. But with a current yield near 5%, it's a fair trade-off for investors needing reliable dividend payments.

James Brumley has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Duke Energy and Verizon Communications. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.