Unfortunately, "set and forget" isn't a strategy you can use with many stocks. Too many things can change over the years that can make a once-attractive stock an albatross on your portfolio.
There are exceptions, though. Some of them even offer solid dividends that boost your total returns significantly over time. Here are three unstoppable dividend stocks to buy and never sell.
1. Brookfield Renewable
My Motley Fool colleagues Jason Hall and Travis Hoium recently referred to Brookfield Renewable (BEP -1.07%) (BEPC -1.33%) as "a foundational stock for the future of energy." That's a lofty accolade -- and one that's well deserved.
Brookfield Renewable operates hydroelectric, wind, solar, and storage facilities that, combined, generate around 21 gigawatts of power. The company has increased its distribution by a compound annual growth rate of 6% since 2013. Its distribution currently yields more than 3.5%.
Increasing the adoption of renewable energy is critical for reducing carbon emissions. Switching to solar and wind also makes financial sense. These two clean energy sources are already more cost-effective than energy production using coal or gas. Their value propositions will be even more attractive in the future.
Brookfield Renewable is poised to benefit from these tailwinds. The company's development pipeline capacity totals nearly 69 gigawatts, with another 21 gigawatts expected to come online by 2030. Average annual total returns in the ballpark of 15% should be easily attainable for this unstoppable stock.
2. Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.87%) arguably ranks as one of the safest dividend stocks on the planet. It's a Dividend King with an impressive track record of 60 consecutive years of dividend increases. J&J's dividend yield currently tops 2.5%.
The company has been in business since 1886.This longevity shows that Johnson & Johnson can adapt to changing market environments. The healthcare sector of today is very different than it was a century ago, but J&J remains one of the leaders.
One example of how Johnson & Johnson continues to evolve is the pending spin-off of its consumer health business. J&J plans to spin off the unit as a separate publicly traded entity in 2023, keeping the pharmaceutical and medical device segments as part of the core company.
As a result of this move, Johnson & Johnson should be in a position to deliver stronger growth than it has in recent years. The company will retain several products with fast-growing sales, including cancer drug Darzalex and autoimmune-disease drug Tremfya.
Several of the same arguments for Johnson & Johnson also apply to AbbVie (ABBV 0.76%). Like J&J, AbbVie is a Dividend King -- albeit just barely, with a 50-year streak of dividend increases. The drugmaker's dividend yield of 3.7% looks especially attractive.
AbbVie has trounced the overall market so far in 2022. That's not surprising. The big pharma stock has also beaten the S&P 500 over the past three-year, five-year, and 10-year periods.
The main reason behind AbbVie's strong performance is that the company continues to grow through acquisitions and internal innovation. As a case in point, AbbVie's top-selling drug Humira loses U.S. patent exclusivity next year. But the company already has two successors to Humira quickly racking up sales, Rinvoq and Skyrizi. It has also reduced its dependence on Humira through the 2020 acquisition of Allergan.
AbbVie has clearly demonstrated that it can survive and thrive in the midst of the rapidly changing biopharmaceutical market. Even though the company will inevitably face patent expirations for key products in the future, its commitment to research and business development should make AbbVie a winner for a long time to come.