It’s hard to imagine that there’s an investor in America — particularly one nearing retirement age — who didn’t rethink their strategy between the outbreak of the virus and today. A lot has changed in the last months, but some investing truths are timeless.
One of those timeless truths is that there’s no such thing as a sure thing on the stock market. But another truth is that seasoned, established companies that have stood the test of time are as close to a sure thing as you’re going to find — particularly when they pay dividends consistently over the years and decades, or, even better, when they find a way to increase their shareholder payouts year after year.
Stability and dividend income are what retirees crave, so GOBankingRates came up with a list of 29 stocks that check all those boxes and then some.
- Share price: $181.08
- Dividend yield: N/A
Not many companies scream “blue chip” more than the Walt Disney Company. In addition to the company’s world-famous theme parks, the company is the owner and producer of some of the most iconic films and characters in history, from Mickey Mouse to Elsa. Recently, the company launched its own streaming service to compete with industry heavyweights Netflix and Amazon, leveraging the strength of its powerful content library.
Disney suspended its dividend payment for the first half of 2020 while the company grappled with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. More than a year later in the second half of 2021, shareholders are still waiting for that periodic payment to return. Even so, investors have little to complain about as Disney knocked its Q3 earnings report out of the park thanks to its 116 million Disney+ subscribers.
- Share price: $76.72
- Dividend yield: 3.39%
In terms of market capitalization (a fancy term for a stock’s current share price times the number of outstanding shares), Merck is the largest pharmaceutical company in the world. Although the company has six blockbuster drugs, according to Investor’s Business Daily, its long-term success could hinge on its biggest cancer treatment, Keytruda.
Merck’s most recent quarterly report was lukewarm, but in June, the company wowed investors when it announced it was manufacturing millions of doses of a COVID-treatment drug that was still in Phase 3 testing.
Home Depot (HD)
- Share price: $331.32
- Dividend yield: 1.99%
Home Depot dominates the home improvement market, along with competitor Lowe’s, but it was Home Depot that delivered blockbuster returns of 755% leading up to the virus.
That run is continuing into 2021 as the country’s dominant home improvement chain has beaten earnings estimates by double digits for the last four quarters and is expected to report year-over-year growth of more than 10%.
- Share price: $231.76
- Dividend yield: 1.61%
Honeywell is primarily known as an aerospace and defense contractor, but it’s an industrial conglomerate with its hand in everything from chemicals and materials to manufacturing, safety and supply chain divisions, among others. Honeywell doesn’t raise its dividend every single year, but over time, its dividend history shows a consistent trend upward. Since 1995, for example, the company’s quarterly dividend has risen by a factor of exactly 10, from $0.093 to its current $0.93.
- Share price: $232.65
- Dividend yield: 0.55%
How often do you swipe your Visa card to make a purchase? Do you use your cards more often than you did 10 years ago? 20 years ago? If the answers to these questions are “often,” “yes” and “yes,” then you can understand why Visa is a growth stock. As Visa expands globally and continues to roll out new partnerships with card issuers, usage of its network is likely to grow. Beyond that, however, the company is branching out into new, noncard payment types in its bid to dominate the global payments market.
That trends toward cashless payments were already running strong and steady prior to the coronavirus pandemic, but the events of 2020 should only stand to benefit companies like Visa all the more. If the world’s sudden lurch toward shopping and paying online means accelerating the trend in a lasting way, Visa could be well-positioned to take advantage.
- Share price: $149.53
- Dividend yield: 1.47%
If you were thinking that the coronavirus concerns pushing a huge portion of shopping online would also mean an exodus of customers from traditional retailers like Walmart to Amazon, you might have underestimated Walmart.
The company proved its ability to adapt, pivot and thrive in a time of crisis, and investors and analysts alike took notice. Recently, Walmart received a rare double upgrade from a sell rating to a buy rating in the runup to its earnings report as Walmart’s sales proved to be much stronger than expected, according to Barron’s.
- Share price: $28.19
- Dividend yield: 7.38%
AT&T traces its history all the way back to Alexander Graham Bell, so the company is nothing if not an example of corporate resilience. As the telecommunications industry has changed, AT&T has been forced to adapt. In addition to its wireless business, the company is also the world’s largest pay-TV provider. The company is a “Dividend Aristocrat,” having raised its dividend for 36 consecutive years as of 2021. AT&T currently pays one of the highest dividends you can find at a major company, with its yield now approaching an incredible 7.5%.
- Share price: $116.48
- Dividend yield: 4.46%
Like AT&T, the pharmaceutical company AbbVie is a Dividend Aristocrat — an S&P 500 company that has increased its dividend for at least 25 consecutive years — and it boasts one of the healthiest dividends of any major company.
Along with Pfizer, AbbVie has long been considered one of the two great dividend pharma stocks with long-term growth potential.
- Share price: $229.68
- Dividend yield: 3.07%
Amgen has raised its dividend every year for 11 years in a row — it’s now above 3%, making it one of the industry’s heaviest hitters in terms of shareholder income, a blessing for retirees. That dividend payout, however, comes with extraordinary volatility. Even by the standards of the biopharmaceutical industry, the story of Amgen has been one of soaring highs and scary lows.
UnitedHealth Group (UNH)
- Share price: $409.67
- Dividend yield: 1.42%
UnitedHealth is the largest U.S. health insurance company and the industry bellwether. As a retiree, if you’re going to own stocks, the most conservative options are often the biggest companies in a thriving industry. Although UnitedHealth sports a modest dividend yield, the company has raised its dividend every year since 2010. The stock has also proved to be a powerful grower, nearly doubling from its low of around $206 in March 2020.
- Share price: $143.18
- Dividend yield: 4.58%
“Big Blue” has been the epitome of the blue-chip stock for much of its existence. It still resides in the venerable Dow Jones Industrial Average, but its stock price has fallen on hard times in recent years. Since peaking at $215.80 on March 14, 2013, the stock has been in a marked downtrend.
However, for dividend investors, the stock is a dream, and not just because it’s currently yielding over 4.5%. Astonishingly, IBM has paid quarterly dividends for more than 100 years, and in 2021, it enjoyed its second year as a Dividend Aristocrat.
Public Storage (PSA)
- Share price: $314.67
- Dividend yield: 2.54%
The idea behind investing in Public Storage is simple. As Americans continue to accumulate things, they need a place to store all of it. As a retiree, if you subscribe to the belief that the most solid companies in a particular industry are the industry leaders, then Public Storage is worth considering. Unlike many of its competitors, PSA operates with an extremely low amount of leverage (debt). The company also has a policy of consistently raising its dividend, which it has at an annualized rate of roughly 10% since 2002. Currently, that translates to a dividend yield north of 2.5%.
American Tower (AMT)
- Share price: $282.92
- Dividend yield: 1.80%
American Tower is the industry leader in wireless tower development, with more than 40,000 towers located across all 50 states. Since bottoming out in the low single digits in 2002, American Tower’s stock has been in a relatively steady uptrend, paralleling growth in mobile phone usage.
- Share price: $131.98
- Dividend yield: 1.91%
Prologis is the world’s largest logistics real estate investment trust. While this may not sound like the most exciting investment, Prologis is poised to benefit from the tremendous boom in e-commerce and the need for additional warehouse and distribution space. After a disastrous 2008-09, the company’s stock has turned around dramatically, rallying from a low of about $10 to its current price in the triple digits. Also, thanks to the pandemic, demand for the sort of buildings in Prologis’ portfolio is at an all-time high.
- Share price: $79.44
- Dividend yield: 2.27%
Colgate-Palmolive is one of the best-known brand names in the U.S. The firm has been showered with global accolades. Fortune magazine recognizes it as one of the world’s most admired companies, while Ethisphere has dubbed Colgate-Palmolive “the world’s most ethical company.” The company currently yields above two-and-a-quarter. and is not only a Dividend Aristocrat, but a Dividend King — those are the elite stocks with more than a half-century of consecutive raises — having increased its dividend for an astonishing 58 consecutive years.
Waste Management (WM)
- Share price: $151.93
- Dividend yield: 1.53%
There’s one theory to investing that companies in the most unsavory lines of work can offer some of the greatest values. After all, no one wants to regale friends at a cocktail party about how they made a fortune on trash. However, while it might not be as “sexy” as a hot new tech stock, there will always, always be trash and, therefore, a need for someone to take care of it. Waste Management is an industry leader that operates in a wide variety of verticals within its industry, making this the sort of defensive stock that’s more likely to hold up better through bear markets.
Archer-Daniels Midland (ADM)
- Share price: $62.40
- Dividend yield: 2.37%
Even though it’s one of the largest agricultural companies in the world, Archer Daniels Midland may not be a name familiar to many stock investors. However, for those in the know, the company has been a solid investment. The company is one of the top dogs among the Dividend Aristocrat world — a few more years of increases will make it a Dividend King.
Union Pacific (UNP)
- Share price: $227.80
- Dividend yield: 1.88%
Even with the rise of other shipping options, rail remains an important transportation source in the U.S., and a recent shift could help boost the bottom line of railway companies like Union Pacific. Recently, UNP adopted the “precision scheduled railway” system, which helps railroad companies operate more efficiently. With a current dividend yield of nearly 2%, retirees could find a friendly income stock in UNP.
- Share price: $200.58
- Dividend yield: 2.95%
If you want to own a premium Dividend King, look no further than 3M. This massive conglomerate is approaching an incredible 60 years of consecutive increases. The company is also one of the elite 30 companies comprising the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Currently, the maker of everything from Scotch tape to Post-It notes yields nearly 3%.
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY)
- Share price: $65.71
- Dividend yield: 2.90%
The pharmaceutical industry has always been a sound source of dividend payments for investors, and Bristol-Myers Squibb is no exception. Currently yielding nearly 3%, BMY’s stock has had its ups and downs but returned double-digit returns over the last 10 years.
CVS Health (CVS)
- Share price: $84.36
- Dividend yield: 2.37%
Depending on your investment philosophy, the stock of pharmacy giant CVS could be one to avoid, or it could be on the brink of a major turnaround. While the stock market, in general, has enjoyed a prosperous half-decade, shares of CVS are down from their high of around $112 in 2015. The company’s stores, however, were a rock during the pandemic and recently beat earnings estimates.
Hormel Foods (HRL)
- Share price: $46
- Dividend yield: 2.13%
Hormel is a staple for most American cupboards — and the pandemic has only strengthened its position. In times of uncertainty, stocks in what are considered “defensive” sectors where demand isn’t as big of a variable are strong options. Consumer staples like what Hormel provides are a perfect example, and the company’s long history of boosting dividends likely speaks to that.
- Share price: $57.23
- Dividend yield: 2.94%
Coca-Cola’s status as one of the gems of Warren Buffett’s portfolio has become famous over time, but it’s another example of how defensive stocks have real lasting power. Coca-Cola has a huge portfolio of consumer beverages that it sells across its global footprint, giving it a relatively strong position in an industry that tends to withstand economic downturns relatively well.
- Share price: $190.51
- Dividend yield: 1.68%
Lowe’s might not be the sole leader in its category — not with Home Depot out there — but it’s still a successful brand operating in the consumer staple sector with a long history of increasing dividends. It’s been nearly a half-century since Lowe’s went a full year without boosting its payout, showing remarkable consistency in its business over time.
- Share price: $158.05
- Dividend yield: 2.75%
While Pepsi is often thought of as the clear also-ran to Coca-Cola, there’s more to that story than meets the eye. In fact, Pepsi’s ownership of Lays means that they’re operating a vast brand portfolio across the beverage and snack food categories, giving them a number of verticals in which they’re active. The company continues to pay a dividend and has boosted it every year for nearly 50 years straight.
Procter & Gamble (PG)
- Share price: $143.64
- Dividend yield: 2.42%
Many of the Dividend Aristocrats come from a similar vein: consumer staple companies with a very diverse offering across many categories. And it makes sense. Not only are these companies serving basic needs that people can’t go without, but they boast a range of brands that mean they won’t rise and fall with any one product. Procter & Gamble might be as quintessential a consumer goods conglomerate as they come, and it’s increased its dividend every year for over 64 years, making it not only one of the top Dividend Aristocrats, but one of the most impressive Dividend Kings. P&G has paid dividends for more than 130 years.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
- Share price: $176.25
- Dividend yield: 2.41%
Johnson & Johnson is a consumer goods conglomerate — boasting personal hygiene products and brands across multiple categories — as well as being a pharmaceutical company with a number of interesting potential treatments in its pipeline. The company’s been a household name for decades for a reason, and it’s also served its shareholders well with regular dividend increases dating back to the 1980s.
Consolidated Edison (ED)
- Share price: $77.74
- Dividend yield: 3.99%
There are few sectors as quintessentially defensive as utilities, which have long had a reputation for strong dividends and the ability to stand up to the odd recession. After all, few services are as essential as the basics like power and water, meaning that companies like Consolidated Edison can count on very steady revenue streams in good times and bad. And with Consolidated Edison finding a way to increase dividends every year for nearly 50 years, it would seem they’ve figured out a business plan that keeps chugging along through it all.
- Share price: $168.45
- Dividend yield: 2.75%
To be clear, Clorox was a pretty attractive stock before the coronavirus pandemic catapulted its sales to a new level and made the importance of its products all the more clear to the American public. It has long had steady sales and has boosted dividends for over 40 straight years. So, even if the current boost is merely temporary, this stock still has the potential to be a valuable part of your portfolio for years to come.
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Market data is accurate as of market close on Aug. 13, 2021