Any discussion regarding the best dividend stocks of all time begins and ends with the Dividend Aristocrats. They are S&P 500 companies that have increased their annual dividend payment for at least 25 consecutive years. There are currently 65 names on this prestigious list.
While there is no question the 65 Dividend Aristocrats have staying power, that doesn’t necessarily mean they qualify for the best dividend stocks of all time. To my mind, it’s not just about increasing the annual dividend payment but also about delivering market-beating total returns.
So, for this article, I started with the 65 Dividend Aristocrats and whittled down the list to a manageable 10. To make the cut, the companies on this list must have a 10-year annualized total return greater than the entire U.S. market.
|ADP||Automatic Data Processing||$227.12|
|ITW||Illinois Tool Works||$187.35|
|APD||Air Products & Chemicals||$231.82|
Best Dividend Stocks: Lowe’s (LOW)
Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) has increased its annual dividend for 48 consecutive years. Its 10-year annualized total return is 21.18% through Oct. 6, 1,131 basis points higher than the entire U.S. market. It currently yields 2.1%.
It’s been a little over four years since Lowe’s appointed Marvin Ellison as its CEO. Since he took the helm in July 2018, LOW stock is up 107% compared to 35% for the S&P 500. Ellison jumped over to the home improvement retailer from JCPenney, where he was attempting to turn the department store around. Before that, he spent 12 years at Home Depot (NYSE:HD), where he was in charge of its U.S. stores.
In its Q2 2022 press release, the company stated that it repurchased $4 billion of its stock during the quarter, paying an average price of $185.19. It’s already made money on its buyback.
S&P Global (SPGI)
S&P Global (NYSE:SPGI) has increased its annual dividend for 49 consecutive years. Its 10-year annualized total return is 19.75% through Oct. 6, 988 basis points higher than the entire U.S. market. It currently yields 1.1%.
S&P Global has been one of my favorite stocks to recommend in recent years. I included SPGI in a list of stocks to buy for the next 15 years in October 2021. It used to be called McGraw-Hill until the company sold off its McGraw-Hill Education subsidiary in November 2012 and subsequently changed its name to S&P Global. It’s been uphill ever since.
When most people think of S&P Global, they probably think of its ratings business, which saw revenue decrease 26% year over year in the second quarter. Or they think of indices such as the S&P 500, which had a good quarter, with revenue up 22% year over year.
Thanks in part to its merger with IHS Markit, total Q2 revenue increased 42% to $3 billion. On a pro forma basis, revenue declined 5%. Adjusted net income fell 11% to $955 million. You can be sure before too long, S&P Global will do something about IHS Markit’s lower margins.
Best Dividend Stocks: Automatic Data Processing (ADP)
Automatic Data Processing (NYSE:ADP) has increased its annual dividend for 47 consecutive years. Its 10-year annualized total return is 16.49% through Oct. 6, 662 basis points higher than the entire U.S. market. It currently yields 1.8%.
There are 21 analysts currently covering ADP stock. Most analysts have a “hold” rating on shares with an average target price of $246.71, just 8.6% higher than where the stock is currently trading.
Don’t be alarmed by this, though. Demand for the products and services the company offers — payroll management and human capital management — isn’t going away. That’s why ADP is expected to earn $8.02 a share in 2022 and $8.93 in 2023.
That means shares are trading at 25.4x 2023 earnings. At first glance, this multiple probably seems high. However, it’s less than the stock’s five-year average of around 30x forward earnings.
ADP has one of the best 10-year total returns of the Dividend Aristocrats. That says something.
Sherwin-Williams (NYSE:SHW) has increased its annual dividend for 44 consecutive years. Its 10-year annualized total return is 16.05% through Oct. 6, 618 basis points higher than the entire U.S. market. It currently yields 1.1%.
On Sept. 15, Sherwin-Williams announced that it was partnering with the Hollywood Sign Trust to give the Hollywood sign a makeover to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023. It’s been over a decade since the company last touched up the 45-foot-high sign. Only a paint company as good as Sherwin-Williams would get this plum assignment.
SHW stock is down 41% year to date, in part because of lackluster profits. Second-quarter adjusted net income was $2.41 per share, 9.1% less than a year earlier. Higher material costs and supply chain issues cut into profits. Its gross margin in the quarter was 41.7%, 310 basis points less than a year earlier.
Sherwin-Williams stock hasn’t traded this low since August 2020. Its price-to-sales ratio is 2.8x. It hasn’t been this low since 2019. Despite headwinds, the company still expects to earn $8.65 in 2022 at the midpoint of its guidance.
Best Dividend Stocks: Illinois Tool Works (ITW)
Illinois Tool Works (NYSE:ITW) has increased its annual dividend for 58 consecutive years. Its 10-year annualized total return is 13.94% through Oct. 6, 407 basis points higher than the entire U.S. market. It currently yields 2.7% after upping its quarterly dividend payout by 7% in August to $1.31 per share.
The industrial conglomerate’s goals are straightforward. It expects organic annual revenue growth of 3%-5%, 28% operating margins, 7%-10% annual EPS growth, and to convert 100% or more of its net income to free cash flow.
Illinois Tool Works’ diversification is second to none. It has seven operating segments. All seven account for at least 10% of its 2021 revenue of $14.5 billion. For 2022, the company expects $15.7 billion in revenue at the midpoint of its guidance with a free cash flow conversion rate of 85% to 95% of net income.
Hormel Foods (HRL)
Hormel Foods (NYSE:HRL) has increased its annual dividend for 56 consecutive years. Its 10-year annualized total return is 13.4% through Oct. 6, 353 basis points higher than the entire U.S. market. It currently yields 2.3%.
I don’t know if Spam’s resurgence is a sign of how expensive food has gotten or if it really is tastier than I imagined. Hormel recently said it is on pace to sell a record amount of Spam for the eighth straight year. It turns out it’s trendy in Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific Island cuisine. Who knew?
Spam is part of the company’s grocery products division. For its fiscal third quarter, ended July 31, the division’s sales increased 24.5% year over year to $869.8 million. Spam had something to do with the increase. However, the company’s refrigerated foods business continues to generate the most revenue, accounting for 55% of sales in the most recently reported quarter.
In the years ahead, Hormel plans to grow its business outside the United States. International sales currently account for less than 6% of overall revenue.
All in all, this is a stable performer in good times and bad.
Best Dividend Stocks: Air Products & Chemicals (APD)
Air Products & Chemicals (NYSE:APD) has increased its annual dividend for 40 consecutive years. Its 10-year annualized total return is 13.23% through Oct. 6, 336 basis points higher than the entire U.S. market. It currently yields 2.8%.
On Oct. 6, Air Products announced it would invest $500 million to build a green hydrogen production facility in Massena, N.Y. The facility can produce up to 35 metric tons per day. In addition, the site will handle liquid hydrogen distribution and dispensing operations.
Analysts expect the company’s earnings to increase 14% this year to $10.29 per share and 10.8% in 2023 to $11.40 per share.
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)
Archer-Daniels-Midland (NYSE:ADM) has increased its annual dividend for 49 consecutive years. Its 10-year annualized total return is 13.27% through Oct. 6, 340 basis points higher than the entire U.S. market. It currently yields 2%.
Archer-Daniels-Midland and agriculture go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s hard to imagine the agriculture industry without the company. On Sept. 30, Archer-Daniels-Midland celebrated 120 years in business.
“Over the past 120 years, our company has evolved from a regional startup into an irreplaceable leader providing needed nutrition to billions around the globe. We’ve transformed at many moments along the way, but unlocking the power of nature to enrich lives has always been at the heart of everything we do,” ADM CEO Juan Luciano said in a press release.
The best reason to invest in ADM is that it continues to improve its operations. By 2025, it expects to grow earnings in the high single digits each year, with a minimum 10% return on invested capital and dividend payout ratio of 30% to 40%.
As long as Archer-Daniels-Midland continues to grow, ADM stock should outperform the index over the next 10 years.
Best Dividend Stocks: Nucor (NUE)
Nucor (NYSE:NUE) has increased its annual dividend for 49 consecutive years. Its 10-year annualized total return is 13.23% through Oct. 6, 336 basis points higher than the entire U.S. market. It currently yields 1.7%.
Nucor is one of those rare S&P 500 stocks in positive territory in 2022. It’s up around 1% YTD, 25 percentage points higher than the index. That says a lot about the strength of its business.
If you’re reading this article, you’re a fan of dividend stocks. However, dividends are just part of the rewards companies give to their shareholders. Share repurchases are also important. The steelmaker repurchased $2.7 billion of its stock during the first three quarters of the year.
The Motley Fool’s Howard Smith notes that, over the past 24 months, Nucor has lowered its share count by 15%. That means if you owned 1% of a company with 100 million shares outstanding before a 15% share count reduction, you now own 1.2% after the buybacks without spending a dime.
On Sept. 15, the company declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.50 to be paid to shareholders on Nov. 10. It is the company’s 198th consecutive quarterly cash dividend. That sounds even more impressive than 49 years.
Also, in September, the company said 2022 would be the most profitable year in its history.
Becton Dickinson (BDX)
Becton Dickinson (NYSE:BDX) has increased its annual dividend for 50 consecutive years. Its 10-year annualized total return is 12.34% through Oct. 6, 247 basis points higher than the entire U.S. market. It currently yields 1.5%.
When I think of Becton Dickinson, I think of the allergy shots I got every week as a kid. You couldn’t miss the BD logo on the side of the needle. While I’m glad I no longer get those shots, it’s a part of the company’s history — and a profitable one. However, the healthcare giant has changed immensely since then.
On Oct. 5, BD announced a collaboration with The Ottawa Hospital that will improve the quality of patient care by creating the first “smart hospital” in Ontario. I’m originally from Ontario, so I’m interested in this development.
In February, BD published a blog post that discussed how connecting smart devices could enhance patient care through an integrated medication management system. According to the post, more than 7 million patients yearly in the U.S. are impacted by medication errors. It is estimated these errors cost hospitals and other healthcare facilities more than $40 billion annually.
The company’s software harnesses data to ensure safeguards are implemented to reduce these errors. The Ottawa Hospital gets to see this up close and personal. As they say, this isn’t your grandfather’s Becton Dickenson.
On the date of publication, Will Ashworth did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.