The allure of investing in tech stocks used to be catching the tail of a rocket and riding it higher while enjoying stock splits along the way. That's not the case anymore.
Until Apple (AAPL -0.56%), Nvidia (NVDA -3.45%), and Tesla (TSLA -1.82%) split their shares to great fanfare in 2020, there weren't many splits occurring in the market. Between 2017 and 2021, only 26 companies on the S&P 500 split their shares compared to over 100 in 1997 alone.
That's partly a result of changes in how stock trading is influenced by programs and algorithms today, but it's also because tech stocks have greatly matured now that their hypergrowth days are behind them. They need a different way to attract investors, and that's where dividends come in.
Historically speaking, there's probably nothing better to do with your money than to buy dividend stocks. According to a report released in 2013 by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, companies that initiated and grew their payouts between 1972 and 2012 returned an average of 9.5% per year over this 40-year period compared to a 1.6% return by non-dividend paying stocks.
Because technology is such a big part of our lives, even the biggest tech stocks are still growing today, even if they're not on the same trajectory as they were in the 1990s. But that means investors can be paid for owning a growth stock while also reaping the fruits of capital appreciation.
Today, over 100 tech stocks pay a dividend, and the tech stocks below represent some of the best opportunities for growth and income on the market today.
Yielding just 0.5% annually, Apple's $0.22 per share quarterly dividend isn't going to set the world on fire, but since it was reintroduced in 2012 (it had paid a dividend in the 1980s and 90s but suspended it in 1995), the tech giant has consistently increased the payout each year. Over the last three years, it has raised the dividend on average by almost 23% annually.
The dividend is also quite safe as Apple has a payout ratio of less than 15% while still having a cash horde of $37 billion sitting in the bank. When you add in the amount it has in short-term investments, the iPhone maker has a massive $63 billion cushion, meaning it can comfortably raise its dividend payment for many years to come.
Apple investors have also benefited from a return of capital to shareholders from the company buying back its stock. Between 2018 and 2020, Apple repurchased over $210 billion worth of its stock, and so far in fiscal 2021, it has already bought back about $65 billion worth.
Apple has also split its stock five times over the years, the most recent being the 7-for-1 split two years ago. Altogether, a $1,000 investment in Apple in 2012 would be worth over $10,200 today, about a 1,000% return or over 26% annually, making Apple a top dividend-paying tech stock to own.
2. Cisco Systems
Cisco Systems (CSCO 0.12%) began paying its dividend a year before Apple, and it too has consistently increased the payout every year. The networking leader's dividend of $1.48 per share also yields a more substantial 2.7% annually. While its payout ratio is greatly elevated above Apple's at 41%, that still represents a safe, healthy figure ripe for future increases.
Cisco is one of those tech stocks that used to regularly split its stock. Investors could count on it beating analyst earnings estimates by one or two pennies per share every quarter, and could also routinely count on it splitting its stock.
In the 10 years between its initial public offering in 1990 and the so-called Tech Wreck of 2000, Cisco split its stock nine different times. It split its shares every year except for 1995 but has not split it again since the sector recovered.
Cisco's stock has also greatly appreciated since it began paying a dividend, nearly quadrupling in value over the last decade. During that same time, the payout has risen from a split-adjusted $0.06 per share to where it stands today at $0.37, and with earnings scheduled for next week, it stands a good chance of being increased again.
Cisco's cash hoard isn't quite as extensive as Apple's. Still, it has over $22 billion in cash and short-term investments to make it a stable, solid stock that will likely reward investors with capital appreciation, regularly increasing dividend payments, and stock buybacks. It too is a growth tech stock that should be on your radar.