PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) and Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) are two of the most powerful companies in the global consumer sector. In addition, both corporations are among the most renowned dividend stocks in the market thanks to their rock-solid trajectories of dividend payments over the decades. Which one is a better buy right now? Let's dig in.

Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble is a remarkably sound business. The company sells mostly everyday necessities, which provides stability to sales and cash flows through good and bad economic times. Procter & Gamble's portfolio of brands features 21 names generating over $1 billion each in global revenues annually, including household brands such as Pampers, Charmin, Oral-B, and Ariel, among many others.

Source: Procter & Gamble.

Procter & Gamble is restructuring its portfolio to better focus on its most promising brands. In addition, the company is embarked on an ambitious program to reduce costs and increase productivity across the board. This is driving increasing profit margins, however, sales remain under heavy pressure.

Procter & Gamble announced a 12% decline in revenue during the third quarter, while organic sales fell 1% year over year. Being a huge company in a mature industry, it's not easy for Procter & Gamble to find new growth venues, and this is a major drawback for investors in the company.

The company has a truly spectacular track record of dividend growth. Procter & Gamble has paid uninterrupted dividends for 125 years, and it has increased payments for 59 years in a row. At current prices, Procter & Gamble stock is paying a dividend yield of 3.6% -- not bad at all for this solid dividend powerhouse.  

On the other hand, dividend growth has been quite modest lately. The company raised payments by only 3% in 2015. The business is expected to make $3.76 in earnings per share during the year ending in June 2016, so current dividends represent over 70% of Procter & Gamble's forecasted earnings per share. 

This is not excessively high for a stable and mature company, however, Procter & Gamble needs to do better on the sales front if it's going to deliver sustainable earnings growth in the years ahead. Unless the company manages to jump-start sales, dividend growth could remain subdued.

PepsiCo
PepsiCo has 43 years of consecutive dividend growth under its belt, and the company has raised dividends by 10% annually on average during the past decade. For 2015 PepsiCo raised dividends by 7%, and management is planning to distribute nearly $9 billion to investors via dividends and buybacks over the full year. PepsiCo has a dividend payout ratio of around 60% of earnings, and the dividend yield stands at 2.9% at current prices.

Like many global corporations, PepsiCo is being hurt by factors such as currency headwinds and economic instability in emerging markets. However, the business is doing better than fine when leaving these external considerations aside.

Source: PepsiCo.

Organic revenue grew 7.4%, and core gross margin expanded by 120 basis points during the third quarter. This growth allowed PepsiCo to deliver a 14% increase in core constant-currency earnings per share during the period. For the full 2015, management is projecting a 9% increase in core constant-currency earnings per share.

Carbonated-drink sales are stagnant in developed countries, but PepsiCo is doing a sound job at adapting to healthier eating and drinking habits via product innovation. The company owns 22 brands generating over $1 billion each in global revenue. This list includes not only traditional soda and snacks brands such as Pepsi, Lay's, and Doritos, but also healthier choices such as Tropicana, Quaker, and Gatorade.  

Which one is a better dividend stock?
Procter & Gamble has a higher dividend yield, and the company's leading presence in defensive product categories can be an important advantage for dividend investors looking for downside protection. On the other hand, PepsiCo looks positioned to deliver superior growth in sales, earnings, and dividends.

It all depends on your overall strategy and risk tolerance. If you're looking for a big dividend yield and low risk, Procter & Gamble looks like the right choice. However, PepsiCo could deliver higher total returns when considering both dividends and capital appreciation in the years ahead.

Andrés Cardenal has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends PepsiCo. 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.