A Dividend Aristocrat is a company in the S&P 500 that has paid and increased its base dividend every year for at least 25 consecutive years.

S&P Dow Jones Indices, which owns the S&P 500 index, reviews the list of qualifying companies every year and updates the list of companies that carry Dividend Aristocrat status. Their impressive track records of growth make Dividend Aristocrats some of the most attractive dividend stocks to own.

Dividend Aristocrats list

As of Jan. 22, 2021, there are 65 Dividend Aristocrats.

Here's the full list, sorted by how many consecutive years each has increased its dividend:

Company Sector Consecutive Years of Dividend Growth
3M (NYSE:MMM) Industrials 57
Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) Consumer staples 57
Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) Consumer staples 57
Dover (NYSE:DOV) Industrials 57
Emerson Electric (NYSE:EMR) Industrials 57
Genuine Parts (NYSE:GPC) Consumer discretionary 57
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) Healthcare 57
Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) Consumer staples 57
Stanley Black & Decker (NYSE:SWK) Industrials 52
Hormel Foods (NYSE:HRL) Consumer staples 51
Becton, Dickinson & Co. (NYSE:BDX) Healthcare 48
Illinois Tool Works (NYSE:ITW) Industrials 48
Leggett & Platt (NYSE:LEG) Consumer discretionary 48
PPG Industries (NYSE:PPG) Materials 48
Target (NYSE:TGT) Consumer discretionary 48
W.W. Grainger (NYSE:GWW) Industrials 48
AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) Healthcare 47
Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) Healthcare 47
Federal Realty Investment Trust (NYSE:FRT) Real estate 47
Kimberly Clark (NYSE:KMB) Consumer staples 49
PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) Consumer staples 48
VF Corp. (NYSE:VFC) Consumer discretionary 47
Nucor (NYSE:NUE) Materials 46
S&P Global (NYSE:SPGI) Financials 46
Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM) Consumer staples 45
Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ:ADP) Information technology 45
Consolidated Edison (NYSE:ED) Utilities 45
Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) Consumer discretionary 45
Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) Consumer staples 44
Clorox (NYSE:CLX) Consumer staples 43
McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) Consumer discretionary 43
Pentair (NYSE:PNR) Industrials 43
Walmart (NYSE:WMT) Consumer staples 43
Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) Healthcare 42
Sherwin-Williams (NYSE:SHW) Materials 40
Sysco (NYSE:SYY) Consumer staples 39
Franklin Resources (NYSE:BEN) Financials 38
Cincinnati Financial (NASDAQ:CINF) Financials 61
Aflac (NYSE:AFL) Financials 37
Air Products & Chemicals (NYSE:APD) Materials 37
ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) Energy 37
Amcor PLC (NYSE:AMCR)* Materials 36
AT&T (NYSE:T) Communications services 35
Brown-Forman (B Shares) (NYSE:BF.B) Consumer staples 35
Cintas (NASDAQ:CTAS) Industrials 35
Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) Materials 34
McCormick & Co. (NYSE:MKC) Consumer staples 34
T. Rowe Price Group (NASDAQ:TROW) Financials 33
Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH) Healthcare 32
Chevron (NYSE:CVX) Energy 32
Atmos Energy Corporation (NYSE:ATO) Utilities 32
General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) Industrials 28
West Pharmaceutical Services Inc (NYSE:WST)* Healthcare 28
A.O. Smith (NYSE:AOS) Industrials 27
Linde (NYSE:LIN) Materials 27
Roper Technologies (NYSE:ROP) Industrials 27
Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) Industrials 26
Chubb (NYSE:CB) Financials 26
People's United Financial (NASDAQ:PBCT) Financials 26
Albemarle Corp (NYSE:ALB) Materials 25
Essex Property Trust Inc (NYSE:ESS) Real estate 25
Expeditors International of Washington, Inc (NASDAQ:EXPD) Industrials 25
Realty Income Corporation (NYSE:O) Real estate 25
International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) Information Technology 25
NextEra Energy Inc (NYSE:NEE) Utilities 25

*Was added to S&P 500, making it eligible for Dividend Aristocrats list. Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices.

There's also a Dividend Kings list. To be a Dividend King, a company has to have boosted that dividend every year for an incredible 50 years in a row.

Dividend Aristocrats changes for 2021

Three companies were removed from the Dividend Aristocrats list for 2021:

Three new companies became eligible to join the Dividend Aristocrats list for 2021:

  • International Business Machines
  • NextEra Energy
  • West Pharmaceutical Services

How Dividend Aristocrats are selected

The standards make it difficult for companies to get on the list. But once they are on, they are likely to stay.

Below are the four criteria to become (and remain) a Dividend Aristocrat:

  1. Be a member of the S&P 500.
  2. Increase the per-share base dividend (excluding special dividends) every year for at least 25 consecutive years.
  3. Have a minimum float-adjusted (excluding "closely held" shares owned by insiders or founders) market capitalization of at least $3 billion.
  4. Average at least $5 million in daily share trading value for the three months prior.

When is the Dividend Aristocrats list updated?

The Dividend Aristocrats list is updated at several frequencies by S&P Dow Jones Indices:

  • Once each year in January, companies are added and removed based on the requirements.
  • At the beginning of each quarter, the index is reweighted, meaning the size of each constituent is reset so that they all make up an equal percentage of the index.
  • On rare occasion, a stock may lose Dividend Aristocrat status.

While the Dividend Aristocrat index, by nature, doesn't change much, more companies tend to lose their status during recessions. In 2009 and 2010, 19 total companies (half of which were banks or financial institutions) fell off the list after cutting dividends due to the global financial crisis.

Exchange of money from person to person.

Image source: Getty Images.

Are Dividend Aristocrats good investments?

Historically speaking, yes. But it depends on what you're looking for from your investment.

Pros of investing in Dividend Aristocrats:

  • Reliability: Fans of dividend investing appreciate a reliable source of income.
  • Industry leaders: These companies tend to be leaders in their industries with reliable cash flow and a track record of impressive annual returns.
  • Reduced volatility: Dividend Aristocrats are less volatile than the broader market.

That being said, in recent history, Dividend Aristocrats have underperformed the S&P 500 in total returns:

NOBL Total Return Price Chart

NOBL Total Return Price data by YCharts

So why would investors still look at the S&P Dividend Aristocrats?

When it comes to dividend growth, Dividend Aristocrats absolutely shine. Since 2014, the Dividend Aristocrats Index has increased the dividend payout five times faster than the S&P 500.

NOBL Dividend Chart

NOBL Dividend data by YCharts

Is there a Dividend Aristocrats index fund?

Yes, the ProShares S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats ETF (NYSEMKT:NOBL) is a low-cost index fund that makes it simple to own the full Dividend Aristocrats list.

Those looking for a simple, low-cost way to invest in the entire Dividend Aristocrats universe should give this exchange traded fund (ETF) consideration. 

Should you buy individual Dividend Aristocrat stocks?

Your long- and short-term objectives, as well as the kinds of companies you want to own, come into play. 

For instance, if you're looking for immediate income, you may want to avoid companies with lower dividend payouts. If long-term growth is your focus, you may be better off buying Dividend Aristocrats with higher growth prospects, even if they have lower dividend payouts.

Whether you're looking to pick individual stocks to suit your investing style and goals or for other reasons, such as socially responsible investing goals, Dividend Aristocrats can be an excellent starting point for finding the best-in-class dividend growth stocks.