Whether you're a dividend investor or just someone looking for a safe harbor in uncertain economic times, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA 0.65%) has a lot to offer. The company is an important provider of healthcare throughout the U.S. and the U.K., offers a solid payout, and boasts a sturdy business built on its collection of over 9,000 retail pharmacies.

But it might not be the right investment for you, especially if you're interested in growth. Let's break down the reasons why you might want to buy Walgreens, as well as the characteristics of the stock that might make it a less-than-ideal investment for you.

Reason to buy: Its dividend is sustainable and growing

The biggest reason to buy Walgreens' stock is for its stable, passive-income potential. As a pharmacy, the company's business model isn't going to change much over time, and it's unlikely that consumers will suddenly stop needing to patronize its stores. After all, people are going to keep needing to get their prescriptions filled, and they'll probably keep picking up an additional item or two at the store when they go to grab their medicines each month.

Therefore, so long as the company remains profitable and its earnings are growing -- both of which it hasn't had any problem with in the past decade -- it's reasonable to assume that the conditions are ripe for it to keep paying out its dividend year after year.

Walgreens' forward dividend yield is in excess of 5.9%, significantly higher than the roughly 2.2% yield of CVS Health, another U.S. pharmacy retail chain and one of its major competitors. Furthermore, in the past five years, Walgreens has raised its payout by 20%, and its payout ratio is a comfortable 32%. That means management has plenty of leeway to keep hiking the dividend without the outflow using up a major part of the earnings.

Reason to buy: Its consumer health segment is coming online

Another reason to buy Walgreens stock is that the business is starting a major new growth initiative. While Walgreens is known for its pharmacies, it's also diversifying into providing primary care, quick care, and advisory services via its Walgreens Health segment at its in-store clinics. Though those efforts are still in their infancy, they're already taking off. In the third quarter of  fiscal 2022, the company's 315 operating clinics brought in $596 million in revenue.

In total, management expects Walgreens Health to generate around $2 billion this fiscal year. It plans to keep opening new clinics at its stores, as well as stand-alone sites. In the long term, continuing to scale up its health offerings will ensure that the business keeps up with similar initiatives by competitors like CVS, not to mention driving top-line (and, eventually, bottom-line) growth.

Reason to sell: Initiatives won't greatly boost the top line

For a gargantuan business with a massive base of revenue, it will be nearly impossible to expand quickly given that demand for the products and services in its major segments won't be rising very much over time. In 2021, its total revenue was more than $132 billion. If we tack on the $2 billion in anticipated fresh sales from Walgreens Health, the top line will expand by only 1.5%.

There's nothing wrong with buying shares of slow-growing businesses. But if you're holding this stock with the expectation that the inflows from clinics will drive substantial revenue gains, you may want to consider finding a growth stock instead. 

Reason to sell: Shares will probably still underperform

As retail pharmacies aren't exactly a hot sector of the economy, nor have they been, there's little in the way of hope for Walgreens' ability to outperform the market. Over the past five years, the stock lost more than 47%, as measured by total return, whereas an index fund like the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust gained about 60%.

Simply put, Walgreens' earnings are likely going to keep growing more slowly than the average company, and that means its shares will probably keep underperforming. Of course, that isn't much of an impediment for shareholders who are holding the stock for its dividend.