By Philip van Doorn, MarketWatch
Dividend stocks are always a popular topic for investors. Some are attracted to payout yields that may be much higher than bond yields. Others believe that consistently raising dividends is a good sign that a company’s management team is strong and that the stock will perform well in the long run.
MarketWatch’s Michael Brush has a list of nine secrets of dividend investing, based on his interview with Matthew Page and Ian Mortimer, who manage the Guinness Atkinson Dividend Builder Fund , which is rated four stars (out of five) by Morningstar. The managers give practical advice, including focusing on companies with consistent records of increasing payouts, with high returns on capital and moderate dividend yields.
A high dividend yield may be a signal that a majority of investors don’t trust the company to maintain the payout. A dividend cut is typically associated with a severe drop in a company’s stock price. A long-term investment in a quality company with a moderate dividend yield may be much better, as the company will be more likely to increase the payout over the years.
Here’s an example: If you had bought shares of McDonald’s /zigman2/quotes/203508018/composite MCD +0.12% at the close Feb. 18, 2015, your share price would have been $94.58 and the quarterly dividend of 85 cents a share would have made for a dividend yield of 3.59%. If you held those shares through the close Feb. 18, 2020, and had not reinvested your dividends (to keep our math simple), your share price would have more than doubled to $216.15, while the dividend yield based on your cost in 2015 would have risen to 5.29%, based on the current quarterly payout of $1.25 a share.
For someone who just bought shares of McDonald’s on Feb. 18, 2020, the dividend yield was “only” 2.3%.
Screen of U.S.-listed companies
You may have heard of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index /zigman2/quotes/210598428/delayed XX:SP50DIV -0.08% , which is made up of the 57 companies in the S&P 500 that have increased their regular dividends for at least 25 consecutive years. That’s the criteria — it makes do difference how high a company’s current dividend yield is. You can invest in this group all together with the ProShares S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats ETF /zigman2/quotes/208747379/composite NOBL -0.26% .
But S&P Dow Jones Indices also maintains an expanded list of 119 High Yield Dividend Aristocrats /zigman2/quotes/210599901/delayed XX:SPHYDA -0.51% , which is tracked by the SPDR S&P Dividend ETF /zigman2/quotes/206871683/composite SDY -0.49% . These are companies included in the S&P 1500 Composite Index (made up of the S&P 500, the S&P 400 Mid-Cap Index /zigman2/quotes/219506813/composite MID -0.63% and the S&P Small-Cap 600 Index /zigman2/quotes/210599868/delayed SML -2.85% ) that have increased their regular dividends for at least 20 straight years.
Despite the name, it makes no difference how high a company’s yield is when it is included in the High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index.
Getting back to focusing on companies with “moderate” payouts, we are paring the High Yield Dividends Aristocrats to a list of 25 with minimum dividend yields of 2% that have had the highest average returns on invested capital (ROIC) over the past 20 reported quarters through Feb. 19. Here’s the list, sorted by ROIC:
|Company||Ticker||Industry||Average ROIC - five years||Dividend yield|
|Colgate-Palmolive Co.||/zigman2/quotes/200774077/composite CL||Household/Personal Care||33.41%||2.26%|
|Clorox Co.||/zigman2/quotes/206443229/composite CLX||Household/Personal Care||32.14%||2.57%|
|Automatic Data Processing Inc.||/zigman2/quotes/207661132/composite ADP||Data Processing Services||28.67%||2.02%|
|C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc.||/zigman2/quotes/203490767/composite CHRW||Air Freight/Couriers||27.17%||2.82%|
|T. Rowe Price Group||/zigman2/quotes/203200152/composite TROW||Investment Managers||26.85%||2.61%|
|Kimberly-Clark Corp.||/zigman2/quotes/201766540/composite KMB||Household/Personal Care||25.67%||2.98%|
|Fastenal Co.||/zigman2/quotes/206312496/composite FAST||Wholesale Distributors||25.44%||2.61%|
|3M Co.||/zigman2/quotes/205029460/composite MMM||Industrial Conglomerates||22.08%||3.70%|
|Polaris Inc.||/zigman2/quotes/209008020/composite PII||Recreational Products||19.82%||2.64%|
|International Business Machines Corp.||/zigman2/quotes/203856914/composite IBM||Information Technology Services||19.49%||4.29%|
|McDonald's Corp.||/zigman2/quotes/203508018/composite MCD||Restaurants||18.76%||2.31%|
|Illinois Tool Works Inc.||/zigman2/quotes/208031922/composite ITW||Industrial Machinery||18.50%||2.30%|
|General Dynamics Corp.||/zigman2/quotes/208560027/composite GD||Aerospace & Defense||18.33%||2.17%|
|A. O. Smith Corp.||/zigman2/quotes/208962119/composite AOS||Building Products||17.82%||2.18%|
|PepsiCo Inc.||/zigman2/quotes/208744353/composite PEP||Beverages: Non-Alcoholic||16.95%||2.62%|
|Eaton Vance Corp.||Investment Managers||16.92%||2.98%|
|Emerson Electric Co.||/zigman2/quotes/200181610/composite EMR||Electrical Products||16.87%||2.80%|
|Genuine Parts Co.||/zigman2/quotes/204247574/composite GPC||Wholesale Distributors||16.51%||3.27%|
|V.F. Corp.||/zigman2/quotes/206706147/composite VFC||Apparel/Footwear||16.17%||2.32%|
|AbbVie Inc.||/zigman2/quotes/202428675/composite ABBV||Pharmaceuticals||15.91%||5.04%|
|Lincoln Electric Holdings Inc.||/zigman2/quotes/200454581/composite LECO||Industrial Machinery||15.62%||2.15%|
|Johnson & Johnson||/zigman2/quotes/201724570/composite JNJ||Pharmaceuticals||13.95%||2.55%|
|Leggett & Platt Inc.||/zigman2/quotes/206009340/composite LEG||Home Furnishings||13.62%||3.55%|
|Target Corp.||/zigman2/quotes/207799045/composite TGT||Specialty Stores||11.89%||2.24%|
|Aflac Inc.||/zigman2/quotes/208944541/composite AFL||Life/Health Insurance||11.86%||2.16%|
You can click on the tickers for more about each company.
A company’s ROIC is its after-tax profit divided by the total of its debt and equity. It provides an indication of how good a management team is at deploying money to expand, improve products and services, expand distribution and sales methods, etc.
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