What does it take to beat the Dow Jones Industrial Average in this bear market? There isn't one set recipe. Many very solid companies are lagging behind the Dow and other major indexes. Still, a company that has a shot at beating the Dow today is one that offers investors a certain degree of earnings visibility. And dividend growth is a big plus.

Enter Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.67%). The pharmaceutical giant has stayed ahead of the Dow most of this year. J&J shares are little changed, while the Dow has lost about 11%. Let's see why this healthcare company could continue to outperform -- and why it deserves a spot in your portfolio.

The surprise

You're probably most familiar with J&J because of its consumer health business. That brings you many well-known brands such as Tylenol, Aveeno, and Listerine. But here's the surprise. This actually is J&J's smallest unit when it comes to sales.

Its pharmaceutical and medtech businesses generate more sales. Consumer health only represented about 15% of total sales in the third quarter. And this unit's growth was slower than the other businesses, too. Consumer health sales rose 4.8%, while pharmaceutical sales gained 9.2% and medtech sales increased 8.1%.

Why is this important? J&J is in the process of spinning off its consumer health business. After that, earnings will include only its two strongest businesses.

And the company still will be left with plenty of diversification. That's a plus because it means one area can compensate when another area suffers. For instance, let's imagine a drug reaches patent expiration, and sales drop. J&J not only can count on other drugs compensating, but it also can rely on its medtech portfolio to bring in revenue.

What's just ahead

Now, let's look at what we can expect from J&J down the road. The company is on track to meet its goal of $60 billion in pharmaceutical sales by 2025. That's even as its blockbuster immunology drug Stelara prepares to face competition as of next year. J&J reported about $52 billion in pharmaceutical sales last year, so we're looking at a potential 15% increase.

The company continues to gain or maintain market share in most of its 11 priority platforms. Each of these platforms brings in more than $1 billion in revenue each year. In the medtech unit, J&J launched four new products this year. And just recently it announced plans to acquire heart-pump specialist Abiomed.

The global heart pump market is forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of more than 21% through 2028, according to Exactitude Consultancy. So the Abiomed transaction clearly could be a growth driver for J&J.

All of this sounds good. But there's another big reason to like J&J. And that has to do with its dividend policy. The company is a Dividend King. That means it has increased its dividend annually for at least 50 consecutive years. This suggests dividend growth is important to the company, and it's likely to continue on this path of lifting payouts.

J&J pays a forward annual dividend of $4.52. And the yield is 2.61%, higher than the average for the pharmaceutical industry.

What about valuation? J&J is trading at about 17 times forward earnings estimates. Over the past two years, valuation has fluctuated between 16 and 18. So the stock seems reasonably priced right now considering earnings prospects -- and the fact that it's spinning off its slowest-growth business.

All of this means right now is a great time to get in on this dividend stock. And possibly beat the Dow now or over time.