When it comes to planning for your retirement with dividend stocks, one thing stands out: You need to buy first class companies that have a decent shot at producing many years of dividend growth in your accumulation phase.
Dividend growth is of fundamental importance because, over time, the purchasing power of your dollars is being eroded by inflation. Naturally, in almost every economy, prices rise over long periods of time because input prices such as labor costs increase, which in turn cause higher prices for consumers.
This spiral of increasing labor costs and consumer prices for everyday products such as food, medical bills, cars, or airplane tickets, among others, erodes the purchasing power of every dollar earned and starkly devalues your retirement nest egg.
Consequently, it is of utmost importance to consider inflation as a negative variable affecting your retirement savings. A good way to counter the effect of inflation is by buying companies that have a history of growing earnings and dividends to the benefit of shareholders.
In addition, companies that have historically produced dividend growth over long periods of time are especially likely to continue their run and, therefore, offer investors a great way for saving up for retirement where the odds are tilted in their favor.
This banking behemoth is a financial services company with a market capitalization of $266 billion. Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) is a consumer and commercial bank that offers clients everything from mortgages, credit cards, insurances, and wealth management services. Three things in particular make Wells Fargo a great long-term investment for future retirees:
1. The company is an industry leader and, with a market cap of a quarter trillion, a true heavyweight in the business unlikely to go away anytime soon.
2. Renowned value investor Warren Buffett owns a significant chunk of the company (9.2% at the end of fiscal year 2013) and has repeatedly endorsed the bank as his favorite investment.
3. Wells Fargo has a long dividend and stock-split history dating back into the 1950s and offers investors a solid dividend yield of almost 3% with strong potential to grow in the coming decades.
No serious attempt at listing dividend champions for retirement is credible without mentioning Realty Income (NYSE:O).
Realty Income is a real estate investment trust investing in retail properties across the country as well as in Puerto Rico and has made a name for itself as a reliable, monthly dividend payer that is committed to delivering sustainable dividend growth to shareholders.
The REIT has paid 527 dividends since it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in 1994 and increased its dividends 76 times over the same time period.
Realty Income has an outstanding remuneration record over a variety of business cycles and different interest rate environments making the REIT particularly suitable for long-term investors planning for retirement (don't forget to reinvest those juicy dividends!).
With a near 5% dividend yield and an excellent distribution record, chances are that Realty Income will continue to deliver solid results over the next couple of decades and remain a true dividend machine.
This business development company, which provides financing for growing middle market companies, is on the higher end of the risk spectrum when it comes to dividend payers.
However, Prospect Capital (NASDAQ:PSEC) convinces with a respectable dividend record as well as with a comparably high distribution yield.
Prospect Capital offers investors a great dividend yield of 12% which is fairly high. Nevertheless, the finance company has maintained high payouts since 2004 and returned more than $1.3 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends.
While Prospect Capital is a riskier choice than Wells Fargo or Realty Income and has a shorter distribution record, it can make sense to add a small position of this high-yielder to a diversified, income-oriented investment portfolio to spice up the average yield.
The Foolish Bottom Line
There are a couple of high quality companies out there that are just waiting to be found by investors who seek strong cash flow yields and credible remuneration records.
Wells Fargo, Realty Income as well as Prospect Capital are leaders in their respective industries. Though a company's past performance does not necessarily guarantee equally strong returns in the future, it certainly makes it more likely.