Dividend investing is all the rage these days, and for good reason. With the S&P 500 Index sitting near an all-time high, dividends offer valuable downside protection. When the market goes down, dividends help provide a real return. And when the market goes up, dividends are simply icing on the cake.
Plus, with interest rates at historic lows, it's hard to find satisfactory yield. Bonds don't yield much, with the 10-Year U.S. Treasury at just 2.4%. Traditional savings vehicles like bank certificates of deposits and savings accounts are even worse, as many offer little or no interest.
This makes it difficult to find a decent yield without taking some risk. Fortunately, there are still stocks that fit the bill. One of them is healthcare behemoth Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), which is a great dividend stock you can buy today.
Taking advantage of changing demographics
The United States is currently in a massive demographic shift. The country has an aging population, and this will result in high demand for health care going forward. To emphasize, consider that polling firm Gallup has calculated that Baby Boomers, or those born roughly between 1946-1964, are the largest generational group in the United States. By themselves, Baby Boomers represent about one-third of the total population.
J&J's huge and diverse businesses should capitalize on this demographic trend. In all, J&J holds more than 275 companies spread across more than 60 countries worldwide.
These companies are all contributing to the overall success J&J has experienced this year. Total sales are up 6.3% through the first half of the year. Organic sales are up an even better 7.4%, once you strip out the effects of foreign currency translation. Through the first six months, adjusted earnings per share increased 9.5%.
J&J's strong results are spread across its domestic and international markets. Organic sales are up 8.5% in the United States over the first half of the year, and 6.4% internationally over this period. The company is doing well in under-developed nations as well. For example, its international performance was led by Asia-Pacific and Africa, where sales rose 7.7% over the first six months.
What J&J can do for you
J&J is a 128-year old company that has an amazing track record of success. According to the company, it has increased adjusted profits for 30 years in a row, and has raised its dividend for 52 years in a row. Speaking of its dividend, J&J yields 2.7%, which beats the yield on the 10-Year U.S. Treasury and the overall stock market index.
Even better, J&J isn't aggressively valued. The company increased its full-year earnings forecast after providing second-quarter results. Management now expects to earn $5.89 in adjusted EPS this year, which would represent nearly 7% growth year over year.
Pharmaceuticals is helping drive that growth, led by autoimmune drug Remicade (which turned in 8% sales growth). In the consumer business, growth will be fueled by J&J's stable consumer business, which includes popular brands such as Tylenol and Listerine.
The Foolish takeaway
As stock markets climb and interest rates remain low, yield is hard to find. But you don't need to reach for the riskiest stocks to generate income from your investments. A great stock that offers a large and highly profitable business, in tandem with a strong dividend, is healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson.
J&J operates several large businesses that each contribute to growth. In turn, the company does a great job of sharing its success with investors. And, with the aging population in the United States, J&J has a bright future ahead.