Some income investors place a priority on yield above all else. This can backfire, however, since a big payday in the past is no guarantee of future payouts. A better strategy is to look at long-term consistency and dividend growth – even if that means today’s payout isn’t huge.
Growing dividends signal you will be paid more over time and these increases are an important indicator that a company is doing well – and committed to sharing its success with stockholders. A "Dividend Aristocrat" is an elite class of dividend stock that has increased its payout at least once a year for the last 25 years or more.
Here are nine Dividend Aristocrats to consider.
Cincinnati Financial Corp.
CINF is an unassuming investment and insurance company based in Ohio, with about 5,000 employees and a market value of around $15 billion. And while you may not have heard of Cincinnati Financial, that's a pretty good thing considering the wide range of financial firms that became infamous after suffering steep losses and slicing dividends during the 2008 crisis. What this stock lacks in scale and name recognition it makes up with consistency of dividend payouts. This dividend aristocrat has increased its distribution for an impressive 59 consecutive years. That's a track record low-risk investors should love.
People's United Financial
Connecticut-based regional bank People's United is another financial firm that avoided a black eye during the financial crisis. This is an impressive feat, given its history as mainly a retail bank with about 400 branches at present. With 26 years of consecutive dividend increases, PBCT has only recently joined the ranks of dividend aristocrats. However, with a share price that has surged 230% in the last 10 years even as its dividend has kept growing, this is certainly an income stock to watch.
Cardinal is another mid-sized player that doesn’t quite have the same recognition as its peers. This health care company provides services and products related to the general operations of hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and other facilities. That includes delivery of generic and over-the-counter drugs as well as gloves, IV tubing and materials, bandages and a host of other items. Cardinal has a steady stream of revenue from supplying these must-haves to medical properties. That stability in turn feeds steady dividends that have grown for 32 consecutive years.
Medtronic is another health care company that specializes in medical devices, only of a slightly more technical variety. Its product portfolio includes pacemakers, heart valves and high-tech surgery tools that help doctors complete medical procedures. Health care is a rock-solid sector because it's immune to recessions. People will need medical procedures regardless of the economic picture, which has allowed MDT stock to deliver both consistent returns as well as consistent dividend growth.
Air Products and Chemicals
A behind-the-scenes company that ensures other businesses thrive is Air Products, which sells specialty gasses and related equipment across a variety of industries. Examples include hydrocarbon recovery for natural gas explorers and technology companies that use gasses as part of their semiconductor manufacturing process. With a $45 billion market cap and key relationships with some of the economy’s most established end-users, APD has been able to string together 37 consecutive years of dividend increases.
A $66 billion insurer, Chubb is one of the larger providers of property and casualty policies in North America. You may not know that because much of its business is on the commercial side including policies that cover construction and cybersecurity risks for businesses and offering crop insurance to farmers. As many investors know, insurance companies are one of the more reliable types as the regular premium income from customers provides a strong baseline for revenue. And thanks to this reliable cash flow, Chubb can provide consistent dividends that have grown for 26 consecutive years.
A more high-profile name, Colgate is a company that has roots more than two centuries old and has raised its dividend for an impressive 55 consecutive years. That's in large part because of a powerful brand and a portfolio of in-demand products that includes its Colgate toothpaste and Palmolive dish soap. It's safe to say that no matter what happens, consumers aren't going to stop brushing their teeth in the future. That makes for a reliable flow of cash to CL, and reliable dividends to shareholders.
You may have seen delivery trucks with the Cintas logo but not really known what this company does. That's because it's a rather stodgy sounding company that mainly provides uniforms and related laundry services to restaurants, workshops and other facilities. There admittedly isn't a ton of growth in this kind of service. However, Cintas has a massive network from America to Europe to Asia that gives it both economies of scale as well as important relationships with large clients. As a result, CTAS has a business that is rock solid and a dividend that has grown annually for 35 straight years.
The company behind the pesky duck that squawks at you during commercial breaks, Aflac is an insurance and financial services company that focuses mainly on supplemental health and life insurance policies. This coverage is important to fill in the blanks in your other coverage plans – making it targeted, affordable and usually quite profitable for AFL. As the company has grown in prominence over recent years, so has its dividend. The company has raised payouts for 35 consecutive years, and adjusted for a recent stock split, that payout has more than doubled over the last 10 years.