High-yield dividend stocks can produce exceptional returns on capital. At the same time, these stocks can also present unacceptable levels of risk for average investors. One way to lower your exposure to the inherent risks associated with high-yielders, however, is to comb through the landscape of elite income stocks like Dividend Aristocrats.
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With this theme in mind, we asked three of our contributors which high-yield Dividend Aristocrats they think might be worth buying right now. They suggested AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV), Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), and Chevron (NYSE: CVX). Read on to find out more.
A cut above
George Budwell (AbbVie): The large-cap biopharma AbbVie is a Dividend Aristocrat by virtue of having been part of the healthcare giant Abbott Laboratories, until its spinoff, in 2013. Despite being a relative newcomer, however, AbbVie has proven to be an outstanding dividend and growth stock over the past four years. At present, AbbVie offers a juicy yield of 3.53%, which is among the richest within the realm of major drug manufacturers. Perhaps even more importantly, though, management has repeatedly shown their dedication to the company's topflight dividend program by raising the payout by 60% in the few years since inception.
With any dividend stock, though, it's critical to consider the sustainability of the company's payout, especially when it comes to high-yielders. The good news is that AbbVie sports a comparatively low trailing payout ratio of around 59%, which stacks up rather favorably relative to other dividend-paying pharma stocks like GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, or Sanofi. Because of the enormous growth of its anti-inflammatory medicine Humira and its blood cancer drug Imbruvica, AbbVie has also been able to generate tremendous free cash flow of $7.2 billion over the past 12 months, implying that the company's rich payout is indeed sustainable moving forward.
The one drawback is that AbbVie is staring down the threat of generic versions of Humira in the near future, and its fledgling oncology portfolio still needs some time to mature before it can truly handle the burden of offsetting any dips in Humira's commercial performance. That being said, the company's aggressive acquisition activity that has helped to build its impressive oncology pipeline should ensure that any dips will be temporary in nature.
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A consumer goods stalwart
Keith Noonan (Procter & Gamble): If you're looking for a solid business backed by a stellar returned-income profile, few companies fit the bill better than Procter & Gamble. It won't win points for excitement or originality, but there's a lot to be said for a company that's been in operation for nearly 180 years and delivered a streak of uninterrupted yearly dividend increases that kicked off the same year that Elvis Presley scored his first No. 1 hit on the U.S. Billboard pop chart -- 61 years ago.
P&G currently boasts a chunky 3% dividend yield and has a 61-year history of delivering annual payout growth -- an impressive track record that's likely to get better by the year. With the cost of distributing its dividend representing just 49% of trailing earnings and 81% of trailing free cash flow, the company is in good position to keep boosting its dividend, and payout growth has the potential to accelerate thanks to momentum from ongoing share buybacks and cost-saving initiatives.
As the consumer staples industry has stagnated, P&G has been focused on reducing expenses by phasing out underperforming brands and improving operational efficiency -- a strategy that's already had some success and one that the company will continue to pursue. Management anticipates that it can achieve an additional $8 billion in cost savings through fiscal 2020, and growth opportunities in online sales could create sales and earnings momentum.
With its historically sturdy business backed by a stable of strong brands and a great dividend profile, P&G looks to be a worthwhile portfolio addition trading at roughly 22 times forward earnings.
Produce some dividends for your portfolio
Dan Caplinger (Chevron): Not every Dividend Aristocrat has a high yield, because there's nothing in the selection criteria that filters out companies that have grown their dividends consistently yet not been particularly generous with their payouts. Chevron doesn't face that problem, however, with its recent yield above 4% putting it in the upper echelon of stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The oil giant also sports a 29-year streak of boosting its dividends on an annual basis, a track record that only gets more impressive when you consider just how volatile oil prices have been over the past three decades.
Chevron has had some dividend investors concerned lately, with crude oil's plunge and the company's decision to increase its payout by less than 1% last November in order to keep its Dividend Aristocrat status. Yet much of the pressure recently on Chevron's earnings has come from the need to do asset writedowns to reflect the weak energy markets, and the company continues to add new assets in an effort to bolster long-term growth. Recent surges in production have reflected the company's ability to recover from price shocks. Times of stress are often good opportunities to pick up high-quality companies, and Chevron's history of successful growth should give investors confidence about its long-term future.
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Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. George Budwell owns shares of Pfizer. Keith Noonan has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends GlaxoSmithKline. The Motley Fool recommends Chevron. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.