Williams (WMB -3.36%) stands out from the crowd. It offers investors a unique blend of income and growth for a company of its size, financial strength, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) quality, making it an attractive investment opportunity.

Here's a closer look at how the natural gas infrastructure company stacks up to other companies in the S&P 500.

A model of consistency

Williams has an excellent track record. The natural gas infrastructure company has consistently grown its earnings over the years, allowing it to pay an attractive (and steadily rising) dividend.

A slide showing Williams dividend yield and earnings growth relative to other companies in the S&P 500.

Image source: Williams Investor Relations Presentation. YOY = year over year. CAGR = compound annual growth rate.

As that slide shows, Williams offers a top-10 dividend yield in the S&P 500. It's more than double the 1.7% dividend yield of the broader market. The company also has a solid track record of growing that dividend. It has increased the payout at a 6% compound annual rate since 2018.

Williams has been able to increase its shareholder payout steadily because it has consistently grown its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). Less than 12.5% of S&P 500 members have expanded their adjusted EBITDA each year for the past decade.

In a class of its own

Williams' yield and consistency add to its other attractive investment characteristics, enabling the company to rise to the top.

A slide showing Williams as an attractive investment opportunity within the S&P 500.

Image source: Williams Investor Relations Presentation. Y-O-Y = year over year.

As that slide showcases, 367 of the 500 companies in the S&P 500 have market caps above $10 billion and investment-grade credit ratings. That gives them the scale and financial security many investors desire in a core stock holding.

Williams also boasts a solid ESG rating. While the company has an average ESG rating of BBB, it's a leader in corporate governance and carbon emissions. The company is helping spearhead the industry's efforts to lower emissions by investing in technology to capture methane and carbon emissions.

The company's consistent growth track record further distinguishes it from the crowd. Only 44 S&P 500 companies with the scale, credit quality, and ESG characteristics of Williams have also delivered consistent annual EBITDA growth over the past decade.

Finally, where Williams really shines is its valuation. As noted, the company has one of the 10 highest dividend yields in the S&P 500. That is partly due to its low valuation relative to the broader market. Williams expects to generate $3.86 to $4.18 per share of adjusted funds from operations (FFO) this year, a good proxy for free cash flow. That gives it a free-cash-flow yield of more than 13%. The S&P 500's free-cash-flow yield is 5%. Since a lower yield means a more expensive valuation, Williams is much cheaper than the broader market.

More growth ahead

That high free-cash-flow yield showcases the strength of Williams' high-yielding dividend. With its dividend yield half that level, Williams is generating enough free cash flow to cover that big-time payout by more than two times over this year. That's enabling it to retain excess cash to help finance its continued expansion while maintaining a strong balance sheet.

Williams currently has an extensive capital program. It has several natural gas transmission pipeline projects under construction. It's also expanding its gathering and processing business and connecting five major offshore projects in the Gulf of Mexico to its extensive infrastructure in the region. These investments set the company up for a breakout year in 2025, with continued growth along the way.

Overall, Williams expects to grow its adjusted EBITDA by 5% to 7% annually over the long term, which should enable the company to continue increasing its sizable dividend.

An attractive value proposition

Williams offers a compelling combination of growth and income at a value price. Those features position it to produce attractive total returns for investors. Add that to its other quality characteristics, and it's one of the most attractive investment opportunities in the S&P 500 these days.