Stock market declines can incite fear and anguish among investors. Yet it's important to realize that these pullbacks also bring opportunity, such as the chance to acquire outstanding dividend stocks at attractive yields. That's because -- all else equal -- as share prices fall, yields rise.
The recent downturn has some of the best businesses in the world now yielding more than 3%. Considering that the 10-year Treasury currently yields only about 2% -- and that these companies are very likely to consistently raise their dividends while interest payments from fixed-income securities like Treasuries are, well, fixed -- investors may want to consider pouncing on these opportunities while they're still around. In that regard, read on to see why Procter & Gamble (PG 0.21%) and Jonson & Johnson (JNJ 0.21%) are two of the best opportunities available in the market today.
The consumer-goods titan
Investors seeking shelter from the current market storm can find solace in Procter & Gamble's stock and solid 3.3% dividend yield. The consumer-products giant has paid a dividend consistently since 1890 -- a 125-year streak made even more impressive by 59 years of consecutive increases. Even better, with its strong and growing cash flow generation, the company appears well positioned to continue to reward its shareholders with rising dividend payments for many years to come.
What is it that makes Procter & Gamble such a reliable income generator for investors? The answer can be found in the company's treasure trove of market-leading brands. From Tide detergent to Pampers diapers, P&G's portfolio includes 21 billion-dollar brands, along with 11 others with at least $500 million in annual sales. The common theme among these brands is that they're mostly everyday necessities, which tends to insulate the company's revenue and cash flow from poor economic conditions.
In total, Procter & Gamble's business includes about 65 brands spread across 10 core product categories -- all 10 of which P&G holds either the No. 1 or No. 2 market position. That's down from the 180 or so brands P&G possessed before it undertook its sweeping restructuring effort designed to focus the company on its fastest-growing and most profitable business lines. These brand divestitures have resulted in significant cost reductions, and along with a host of supply chain and efficiency improvements, have transformed Procter & Gamble into an even more profitable company today.
While foreign currency fluctuations and emerging markets turmoil have dented P&G's results in recent quarters, these situations are likely to stabilize in the years ahead. When that occurs, Procter & Gamble's true earnings power will be on full display, and I believe investors will like what they see. That makes today a good time to consider purchasing shares -- before other investors recognize the value in Procter & Gamble's stock.
The healthcare colossus
Investors seeking a safe and reliable investment may also wish to consider Johnson & Johnson. The healthcare titan is one of only three U.S. companies with a coveted AAA credit rating -- a testament to its diverse revenue streams, cash-rich balance sheet, and outstanding cash flow generation.
In fact, this 129-year-old company consists of more than 250 subsidiaries spanning across more than 60 countries. J&J organizes these operations into three major segments: consumer health-care products, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. The company is a dominant force in all three areas, with 70% of its products holding the No. 1 or No. 2 market share.
Johnson & Johnson's market leadership and highly profitable operations have helped the company amass a war chest of more than $18 billion in net cash on its balance sheet. J&J can now operate from a position of financial strength -- at a time when its competitors must contend with tightening credit markets and the prospect of rising interest rates -- as management seeks to deploy that capital toward acquisitions to supplement J&J's organic growth. And the recent market downturn should make finding value-creating deals easier, as the stocks of many potential acquisition targets are significantly cheaper than they were just a few months ago.
These factors combine to make Johnson & Johnson one of the safest equity investment opportunities available in the market today. In addition, with 53 consecutive years of dividend increases and a current yield of 3%, J&J offers its shareholders a reliable stream of steadily rising income -- a trend that should continue for years, and even decades, to come.