When it comes to dividend investing, it's easy to get enamored with a stock offering a high yield. But for many investors, the ability for a company to consistently pay and raise its dividend while supporting that payment with ample earnings and free cash flow will do far more to positively impact a portfolio's value over the long term.

Procter & Gamble (PG -0.13%), Raytheon Technologies (RTX -0.06%), and Emerson Electric (EMR 0.05%) are three dividend-paying companies that have a track record as safe stocks. Part of that safety comes from each company being a Dividend Aristocrat -- which is an S&P 500 component that has paid and raised its dividend annually for at least 25 consecutive years. Three Motley Fool contributors explain why these companies are excellent buys for investors looking for a reliable source of passive income. 

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1. Procter & Gamble: The safest dividend stock on the planet

Daniel Foelber: Sometimes, safe dividend stocks come at a premium price. At least, that's the case with Procter & Gamble. Despite being down about 20% year to date, P&G stock still has a price-to-earnings ratio of 22.6, which is above the S&P 500 average of 18.1. What's more, P&G tends to grow its revenue and earnings at a low to moderate rate that is slower than the S&P 500 average.

Commanding a premium valuation and with slower growth, P&G may look like a stock that's worth passing on. But P&G has something that few companies have: consistency. The below chart says it all.

PG Shares Outstanding Chart

PG Shares Outstanding data by YCharts

Over the last decade, P&G has grown its dividend by 62.5% and reduced its outstanding share count by 12.5% -- thereby boosting earnings per share. The company supports its hefty dividend and share buyback program with free cash flow that well exceeds these obligations.

P&G's consistency is the result of its brand power, pricing power, relationships with retailers, and sophisticated supply chain. P&G's name brands may command a premium price compared to generic brands. However, the company has plenty of brands that touch different price points in a single category.

As an example, P&G owns nine fabric care brands -- Ariel, Bounce, Cheer, Downy, Dreft, Era, Gain, Rindex 3en1, and Tide. Together, these products cover essentially the entire spectrum of price points in the fabric care industry, which allows inflation-sensitive customers to stay within the P&G family of products even if they are switching from, say, Tide or Gain to Era.

In addition to its earnings resilience and the steady performance of its business, P&G has also delivered consistent expectations for its investors. The company is a Dividend King that has paid and raised its dividend for 66 consecutive years and sports 132 total years of dividend payments. That's a track record that only a handful of U.S. companies can match.

Add it all up, and P&G is arguably the single safest stock on the market. Its 3% dividend yield is appealing to risk-averse investors who value a consistent and stable dividend over a high dividend yield.

2. Raytheon Technologies' growth outlook is improving

Lee Samaha: Aerospace and defense giant Ratheon Technologies makes the list of Dividend Aristocrats by virtue of previously being part of the former United Technologies. United broke up in 2020, and Raytheon has hiked its dividend in the two years since. Moreover, the company has plenty of opportunities to raise its dividend for many years to come.

That confidence comes from the strength of its two end markets. First, its commercial aerospace-focused markets continue to benefit from an ongoing recovery in commercial air travel as the industry recovers from its difficulties in recent years. It's no secret that airplane manufacturers, like Boeing and Airbus, are facing supply chain challenges in ramping up production. However, they have multiyear backlogs in place, and a graduated recovery in production looks inevitable. Meanwhile, growth in commercial flight hours supports a strong recovery in aftermarket sales

Turning to the defense end market, management recently told investors that its defense revenue would grow in a mid- to high-single-digit range annually through 2025, driven by demand influenced by the war in Ukraine. Governments will not only look to replenish equipment used in the conflict, but the renewed sense of security risk in Europe is also likely to create increased demand. 

As such, Raytheon stands relatively well placed in the current economy and might even be a beneficiary of a general slowdown, as it's likely to ease the supply chain and labor issues the company is suffering. Given these circumstances, Raytheon stock has plenty of potential to outperform the market.

3. No shock here: Emerson Electric is a powerful way to punch up your portfolio

Scott Levine: Gold? Treasury bills? A good old-fashioned savings account? Seek suggestions from enough people about how to protect your nest egg, and you'll hear a variety of answers. One strategy that can provide a steady stream of passive income is to add some nobility to your portfolio with a tried and true Dividend Aristocrat like Emerson Electric -- a leader in automation solutions as well as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning -- and its forward dividend yield of 2.7%.

Emerson Electric is another one of the distinguished Dividend Kings in the market, with a 65-year track record of raised dividend distributions. The U.S. economy has experienced some extreme vicissitudes since the late 1950s, and all the while Emerson Electric has not only prospered, but it has also continuously rewarded shareholders -- that's no small feat. There's no guarantee that the streak will extend another 65 years, but it certainly inspires confidence that management is committed to shareholders.

It's not merely that Emerson Electric is one of the longest-tenured members of the Dividend Aristocrats, the company's sound financial footing also suggests that it's an attractive choice for investors looking to protect their portfolios. Over the past 10 years, Emerson Electric has averaged a payout ratio of 60.2%. This conservative approach to returning capital to shareholders suggests management isn't willing to jeopardize the company's financial health to placate investors. Turning to the company's cash flow, investors will find further reassurance.

EMR Free Cash Flow Per Share (Annual) Chart

EMR Free Cash Flow Per Share (Annual) data by YCharts.

The company's dividend is well covered by its free cash flow, leaving capital left over to fund growth opportunities.

For investors interested in a dividend-paying stock that can buttress their portfolio, Emerson Electric is worthy of consideration.