Investing in quality dividend stocks is a rewarding way to build lasting wealth. Longtime shareholders of Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) know what I'm talking about. Not only is P&G a dividend aristocrat that has paid a dividend for the past 124 years without fail, but it has also increased its payout for 58 consecutive years at a compounded rate of more than 9% a year. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that this wild dividend growth is in the past, whereas current investors should be focused on future growth. In that spirit, here are two things Procter & Gamble dividend investors need to know about the health of this consumer products giant today.

Income investors sacrifice yield for reliability
With a dividend yield of 2.92%, Procter & Gamble's stock doesn't provide investors a sky-high yield. However, income investors shouldn't care because it offers shareholders the promise of decades of solid dividend growth instead. P&G's sustainable payout ratio of 65%, means management should be able to continue paying a dividend for many more years to come. This metric is important because it tells investors how much of the company's net income is being given back to shareholders in the form of dividends and share buybacks.

Procter & Gamble clearly knows how to put shareholders first, particularly as it has increased its dividend every year for the past 58 years straight. In fiscal 2014, the conglomerate increased its dividend 7% to $2.45 per share, and returned a whopping $6.9 billion in dividend payments to shareholders over that period. But that's not all. Management spent an additional $6 billion in share repurchases in fiscal 2014 -- for a total shareholder return of $12.9 billion in cash.

And if you're worried that the company is burning through cash too quickly, don't be. As the dominant global consumer products player, Procter & Gamble generates more than $80 billion in sales each year. Still, with hundreds of brands under its corporate umbrella, P&G isn't immune to product and market challenges.

P&G sells its under-performing brands
The consumer goods conglomerate agreed to sell its Duracell battery brand to Berkshire Hathaway in exchange for P&G stock that Berkshire currently owns. This should be viewed as a positive for Procter & Gamble shareholders because it will allow management to focus on its core brands, while also providing some tax benefits to P&G's business.

Earlier this year, Procter & Gamble said it would offload 90 to 100 of its noncore brands in an attempt to reinvigorate growth at the company. However, this shouldn't be a problem for the company's future earnings because P&G's core brands (the ones it's keeping) currently account for about 90% of its revenue. Moreover, Procter & Gamble won't be selling any of its 23 brands that each generates annual sales in the range of $1 billion to $10 billion.

These are all good things for long-term investors because Procter & Gamble is essentially cutting the fat and putting excess cash and energy into what's already working: it's best-performing brands. This should help P&G become an even stronger global consumer products player down the road. To recap, the two takeaways for dividend investors are:

1. P&G's stock boasts a reliable dividend that should continue to grow for many years to come.

2. The company is in the process of divesting under performing brands, which should make it a more nimble and focused business.

Together, these things tell me that Procter & Gamble is a winning dividend stock that should reward shareholders for decades to come.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tamara Rutter has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Procter & Gamble. 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.