Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is arguably the best-diversified entertainment company on Earth. When it has an off year at the box office, it can lean on its TV empire to crank out profits. When the media business stumbles, as it's doing now, toys and merchandise sales can pick up the slack. And all along, the number of turnstile clicks at its theme parks keeps climbing higher.
This sets up a tough situation for dividend investors, though. For one, Disney's entertainment dominance is no secret, and so the stock is rarely cheap. As a result, its 1.5% dividend yield puts it almost dead last among the 30 companies in the Dow.
And maintaining those varied business segments soaks up tons of cash. Disney spent $4.3 billion in its last fiscal year on capital investments (29% higher year over year), and it plans to shell out over $5 billion through the next 12 months (for another 19% boost). Growing cash commitments like these are a big reason why Disney pays out significantly less than half of its earnings in dividends.
So let's look at two other strong dividend stocks in the consumer products industry that income investors might prefer. Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) and Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS) both boast heftier payout yields and a better growth streak over the past decade than Disney. And these companies have also committed to sending a bigger proportion of their earnings back to shareholders as dividends.
Procter & Gamble's consistency
Fellow Dow giant Procter & Gamble has one of the highest dividends in the market, yielding 3.4%. And its 59-year streak of consecutive payout hikes crushes Disney's: The entertainment giant halted raises for three straight years as the economy tumbled from 2008 to 2010.
The House of Mouse is back to posting record results right now, which is how it was able to fund its most recent 19% dividend boost. Yet investors who prize consistency through even the worst down markets might prefer investing in a consumer staples giant rather than an entertainment titan whose business is heavily exposed to economic slumps.
While P&G's sales growth is bouncing along at close to zero lately, its costs are trending sharply lower, which could power strong profit gains over the next few years. And efficient cash flow generation has put the company near the top of the market in terms of promised cash returns to shareholders. Executives spent $12 billion on dividends and stock buybacks last year, and plan to boost that pace to $17 billion per year through 2020.
Hasbro's quick growth
Like Disney, Hasbro had to suspend its dividend increases during the worst of the Great Recession. But its freeze was shorter, and its payout came roaring back to now yield 2.6%.
The toy and game maker followed up its flat 2009 dividend year with three consecutive boosts of 20% or greater. Even including that recession pause, the dividend has grown at an 18% compound rate over the last decade.
Hasbro's expanding profitability is a key reason to like it as a dividend stock right now. Despite the weak global sales environment, operating margin rose to 21% of sales last quarter, up from 19% in the prior year.
Hasbro has a close relationship with Disney, as it is the exclusive licensing outlet for the Disney Princess product line. It also accounts for a huge chunk of the global toy business in both the Star Wars and Marvel brands.
In that way, Hasbro investors can enjoy some of the benefits of a growing Disney business -- while collecting a significantly higher dividend yield.