"Do you know the only thing that gives me pleasure? It's to see my dividends coming in."
– John D. Rockefeller.
Ah, dividends, those wonderful returns of cash flow to investors. While I've certainly found more to life than dividend checks, I must admit that I'm quite fond of those quarterly payouts. I'm especially fond of payouts that are sustainable and will likely go higher over time. Here's two of my all-time-favorite dividend payers and one that shouldn't even be playing this game.
Don't cut out this middleman
I've owned units of midstream giant Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD) for more than half a decade. Over that time the company has raised its distribution every single quarter. Because of this I'm now enjoying a 10% yield on my original investment while those buying units today would start with a 4.7% payout.
There are a couple of things you need to know about Enterprise. First, that distribution could be as much as 30% higher each quarter if the company didn't hold back cash to grow its business. That tells me that the distribution is secure. Second, the company has $7.2 billion in growth projects under construction. What this tells me is that when those projects are complete the company will throw off more cash that can be distributed to investors. I love a secure and growing payout – Enterprise has both.
Fill up on this deep value
Like Enterprise, I've owned ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) for the better part of the past decade. While the company hasn't been as consistently generous in increasing its payout, I think its future payouts are likely headed higher. The company has been in the midst of a major repositioning which included the spin-off of Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX). That transaction has unlocked major value for investors as Phillips 66 has not only initiated its own dividend but already raised it a couple of times.
ConocoPhillips is a company that is not just trading at a deep value but comes with upside from several growth projects the company is developing. As those projects come online they'll help Conoco grow both production and margins by 3%-5% annually. To go along with the balance of value and growth is the company's sector-leading dividend. The company has decided that it will pay 20%-25% of its cash flow to investors, meaning that as Conoco grows, so will that payout. In the meantime new investors can pick up its very secure, and soon to grow, 4.5% yield.
Turn off the gas
As you can tell, I like secure and growing dividends. That's why I don't understand why Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) even offers a payout to its investors. The company has a well-documented cash flow problem and is weighed down by debt. It's been shedding billions of dollars in assets to fund its ambitious growth plans while profits are squeezed by low natural gas prices. Why bother with a token dividend when that cash could be reinvested into the business? With new management on the horizon it would make sense to turn this dividend off until the repositioning is complete and natural gas prices move higher.
My Foolish take
There you have it, two great dividends you can buy today and one dividend payer you should really avoid. Great dividend payers are hard to come by so when you do find one its best to hold on for as long as you can. If you do, you can sit back in your retirement and fondly remember the words of Mr. Rockefeller. Though, instead of enjoying the pleasure of the dividend checks, you can use them to fund whatever you find pleasurable in your retirement.
Fool contributor Matt DiLallo owns shares of Phillips 66, Enterprise Products Partners L.P., and ConocoPhillips. The Motley Fool recommends Enterprise Products Partners L.P. The Motley Fool has the following options: Long Jan 2014 $20 Calls on Chesapeake Energy, Long Jan 2014 $30 Calls on Chesapeake Energy, and Short Jan 2014 $15 Puts on Chesapeake Energy. 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 Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.