Dividend stocks have made a huge difference for investors looking for income in a low-interest-rate world. As long as the Federal Reserve keeps rates low -- and increasingly, it looks like it could be years before rates rise -- income-hungry investors will need dividend stocks to help them make up the shortfall from fixed-income investments.
But you can't take for granted that a dividend stock will continue delivering the goods indefinitely. All too often, high-yielding stocks end up disappointing their shareholders by cutting dividends. Two of the most recent culprits include Annaly Capital
There are some stocks, though, that do a good job of not only sustaining their dividends but increasing them over time. Some of these cream-of-the-crop candidates qualify as Dividend Aristocrats, which are S&P 500 members that have increased their dividend payouts each and every year for at least 25 years in a row. Below, we'll talk about five stocks that are due to extend their streaks soon -- but first, let's look more closely at why Dividend Aristocrats are worth following.
It's hard to do anything for 25 straight years. When you consider all the ups and downs a company sees in a quarter-century, it may seem remarkable that any company makes it onto the Dividend Aristocrats list. Between ordinary economic cycles and company-specific events that jeopardize payouts, hundreds of companies never get close to qualifying.
By contrast, though, some companies plan for rainy days constantly. They don't stretch during good years, keeping reserves they can use to get through tough years. It's those stocks that are most likely to have the cash on hand to pay rising dividends -- and make their shareholders confident in their long-term prospects.
Often, stocks get in the habit of raising their payouts at the same time of year. Several companies have a record of doing so in the second quarter, and so with April nearly upon us, it's almost time to expect a new round of dividend increase announcements.
Procter & Gamble
Finally, Johnson & Johnson
Go with the money flow
Dividends may come and go, but the best companies keep delivering year after year. It's not a sure thing, but relying on the Aristocrats for solid dividends has been a pretty good bet over the long haul.
If you'd like still more dividend stock ideas, don't stop here. Check out this free Motley Fool special report: "Secure Your Future With 9 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks." The title says it all. Get your copy while the stocks are hot.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger always likes stocks that pay more money. You can follow him on Twitter here. He doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson and Annaly Capital. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, ExxonMobil, and Annaly Capital, as well as creating a diagonal call position in Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool's disclosure policy keeps paying you.