These Stocks Have Paid Dividends for Over 100 Years in a Row -- Are Any Worth Buying?

By Matthew Frankel Markets Fool.com

As of early 2017, there are 2,408 stocks listed on the Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange that pay dividend yields of 1% or higher. Many of these have only paid dividends for a short time, and others have had a sporadic history, cutting their dividends when times get tough. So a 100-consecutive-year history of paying dividends is quite an accomplishment -- achieved by an exclusive list of companies. Here are the longest-running U.S. dividend stocks, and how you should use this information.

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Image source: Getty Images.

The "century club"

What are the longest-running dividend stocks in the market? Well, if we're talking about U.S. companies, here's a list of those that have paid dividends for at least 100 consecutive years.

Company

Stock Symbol

Dividend Yield

Dividends Paid Since:

York Water Company

YORW

1.7%

1815

Stanley Black & Decker

SWK

1.9%

1877

ExxonMobil

XOM

3.5%

1882

Eli Lilly

LLY

2.8%

1885

Consolidated Edison

ED

3.8%

1885

UGI

UGI

2.1%

1885

Johnson Controls

JCI

2.3%

1887

Procter & Gamble

PG

3.1%

1891

Colgate-Palmolive

CL

2.3%

1898

General Mills

GIS

3.1%

1898

PPG Industries

PPG

1.6%

1899

Church & Dwight

CHD

1.6%

1901

Data source: Dividend.com via Kiplinger. Dividend yields current as of Jan. 27, 2017.

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In addition to the stocks in this table, it's worth mentioning that there are some non-U.S. companies that have also paid dividends for more than a century. For example, Canadian banks Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, and Toronto-Dominion Bank have all paid dividends for more than 160 years.

Which are the best buys now?

Is a 100-plus-year history of paying dividends impressive? Absolutely. However, this fact alone doesn't necessarily make these stocks good investments. Other factors to consider are each company's history of dividend growth, whether the business itself has growth potential in the future, and the current valuation of each stock. Having said that, there are a couple on the list that I'd consider good long-term investments right now.

Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) is one of my favorite stocks on the list. Not only has the company paid a dividend for 126 years, but it has also raised its payout for 60 years in a row, a trend that I see continuing well into the future. Procter & Gamble has a few key competitive advantages that make for a great long-term, low-risk investment. For one thing, the company has one of the most diverse and recognizable portfolio of brand names, which includes Crest, Dawn, Febreze, Gillette, Old Spice, Pampers, and Tide, just to name a few. Strong brands give the company pricing power over rivals, and combined with its massive size, its size gives it a further advantage of efficiency.

Although it's been a tough few years for the oil and gas industry, ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) is another great long-term buy on this list. The world's largest publicly owned integrated oil company, ExxonMobil has one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry, and one of the highest credit ratings of any company or government entity in the world. This gives the company virtually unlimited access to low-cost capital, a key advantage in a challenging industry environment, and should put it in a great position to capitalize as oil prices recover. ExxonMobil's strength has allowed it to raise its dividend for 34 years in a row, even while the price of oil has been low and many rivals have been forced to slash their payouts.

Finally, for the sake of being complete, I should mention that the Canadian banks I referenced are some of my favorite companies in the financial sector. In fact, Toronto-Dominion Bank (NYSE: TD) is one of the largest holdings in my own retirement account, and you can read a discussion about it here.

The bottom line on these 100-year dividend stocks

As I mentioned, paying dividends for more than a century, without fail, is certainly a noteworthy achievement. However, it's not the only factor dividend investors should consider. There are many other metrics that should be looked at before investing in any dividend stock, so be sure to do your homework before adding any of these to your portfolio.

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Matthew Frankel owns shares of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. The Motley Fool owns shares of ExxonMobil and Johnson Controls. The Motley Fool is short Johnson Controls. The Motley Fool recommends The Bank of Nova Scotia and UGI. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.