Taking the bigger picture into account, I would much rather own shares of toy builder Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS) right now. Hasbro's 3% yield may be lower than Philip Morris', but the stock comes with many other hallmarks of a great cash-minting machine.
This chart, for starters, should give any serious income investors the shivers:
Yes, Philip Morris has increased its payouts per share by 72% in the last five years. But Hasbro took larger steps every year to arrive at a sweeter 115% dividend increase.
Don't look now, but Hasbro is a pretty safe bet to raise its payout by another 7%-10% in December, payable in February 2015. Anything less than that would be a big break from the company's established dividend habits.
Moreover, Hasbro has more headroom for further dividend improvements than does Philip Morris. The tobacco titan currently earmarks 77% of its earnings to finance its dividends, while Hasbro's earnings-based payout ratio stops at 66%.
If you're still not convinced, consider this: Philip Morris' earnings are shrinking as consumers feed their nicotine addictions in new ways or attempt to kick the habit altogether. Meanwhile, Hasbro's earnings are skyrocketing as the toy maker sorts out a rough spot in its history, and looks forward to an exclusive licensing arrangement for some of Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) hottest titles.
In short, I see Hasbro as both the stronger long-term dividend play and the better investment in general. Philip Morris caters to a fading crowd, and while it will take decades for this sin stock to fall off the map entirely, it will never again be the powerhouse investors expect.
Most crucially, Hasbro should continue to outgrow the tobacco vendor's dividend policy. Buy early and watch your effective yield rise over the years.