Now more than ever, a comfortable retirement depends on secure, stable investments. Unfortunately, the right stocks for retirement won't just fall into your lap. In this series, I look at 10 measures to show what makes a great retirement-oriented stock.
Consumer goods stocks get lots of attention whenever the stock market gets volatile. But unlike some higher-profile consumer stocks, Church & Dwight
The right stocks for retirees
With decades to go before you need to tap your investments, you can take greater risks, weighing the chance of big losses against the potential for mind-blowing returns. But as retirement approaches, you no longer have the luxury of waiting out a downturn.
Sure, you still want good returns, but you also need to manage your risk and protect yourself against bear markets, which can maul your finances at the worst possible time. The right stocks combine both of these elements in a single investment.
When scrutinizing a stock, retirees should look for:
- Size. Most retirees would rather not take a flyer on unproven businesses. Bigger companies may lack their smaller counterparts' growth potential, but they do offer greater security.
- Consistency. While many investors look for fast-growing companies, conservative investors want to see steady, consistent gains in revenue, free cash flow, and other key metrics. Slow growth won't make headlines, but it will help prevent the kind of ugly surprises that suddenly torpedo a stock's share price.
- Stock stability. Conservative retirement investors prefer investments that move less dramatically than typical stocks, and they particularly want to avoid big losses. These investments will give up some gains during bull markets, but they won't fall as far or as fast during bear markets. Beta measures volatility, but we also want a track record of solid performance as well.
- Valuation. No one can afford to pay too much for a stock, even if its prospects are good. Using normalized earnings multiples helps smooth out one-time effects, giving you a longer-term context.
- Dividends. Most of all, retirees look for stocks that can provide income through dividends. Retirees want healthy payouts now and consistent dividend growth over time -- as long as it doesn't jeopardize the company's financial health.
With those factors in mind, let's take a closer look at Church & Dwight.
What We Want to See
Pass or Fail?
|Size||Market cap > $10 billion||$6.12 billion||Fail|
|Consistency||Revenue growth > 0% in at least four of five past years||5 years||Pass|
|Free cash flow growth > 0% in at least four of past five years||5 years||Pass|
|Stock stability||Beta < 0.9||0.34||Pass|
|Worst loss in past five years no greater than 20%||4.4%*||Pass|
|Valuation||Normalized P/E < 18||21.96||Fail|
|Dividends||Current yield > 2%||1.6%||Fail|
|5-year dividend growth > 10%||36.9%||Pass|
|Streak of dividend increases >= 10 years||15 years||Pass|
|Payout ratio < 75%||29.1%||Pass|
|Total score||7 out of 10|
Source: S&P Capital IQ. *Smallest yearly gain; shares have risen in each of the past five years. Total score = number of passes.
With seven points, Church & Dwight has nearly everything that conservative investors like to see in a stock. And with the stock's quick dividend growth rate, it appears that the maker of household and personal-care products will only get better in the years to come.
Given problems both domestically and around the world, many investors have started to fear a possible new recession. That immediately draws attention to consumer giants like Procter & Gamble
Earlier this year, Church & Dwight gave shareholders a nice surprise by doubling its dividend. That's not very common among mid-cap companies, but with a very reasonable payout ratio of less than 30% of the company's earnings, Church & Dwight has plenty of room to sustain future dividend growth.
For retirees and other conservative investors, Church & Dwight's 15-year track record of higher dividends demonstrates the company's commitment to its shareholders. The ideal situation would involve waiting on a pullback to make the shares more favorably priced, but even without it, Church & Dwight would make a reasonable addition to most retirement portfolios.
Finding exactly the right stock to retire with is a tough task, but it's not impossible. Searching for the best candidates will help improve your investing skills, and teach you how to separate the right stocks from the risky ones.
Add Church & Dwight to My Watchlist , which will aggregate our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.
If you want to retire rich, you need to be confident that you've got the basics of your investment strategy down pat. See if you're on track by following the " 13 Steps to Investing Foolishly ."Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Clorox. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark, and formerly recommended Clorox. 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 Fool has a disclosure policy.
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