Thankfully for income-seeking investors, Dividend Aristocrats span a host of industries. Among the set of companies that have increased their dividends for at least 25 consecutive years, three high-yield opportunities worth consideration are technology giant Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), manufacturing leader Emerson Electric (NYSE: EMR), and fast-food king McDonald's (NYSE: MCD).
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Steady income with growth to follow
Tim Brugger (Intel): Despite sporting one of the tech industry's best dividends of 3% and delivering back-to-back record-breaking quarters with $14.8 billion in revenue -- a 14% year-over-year improvement last period -- Intel stock is flat in 2017. That may not seem Dividend Aristocrat-worthy, but Intel stock's lack of performance means it now offers outstanding value in addition to a high yield.
At 11.6 times future earnings, Intel's P/E is about half the current industry average. The stock is inexpensive as measured by almost every other valuation metric as well. The market's primary concern seems to be the continued strength of Intel's PC unit, which climbed again last quarter, 12% to $8.2 billion. Why would a strength cause angst? Because many pundits believe the PC market is dead, though there are a growing number of industry watchers beginning to think we may be near the bottom of the ongoing slump.
Intel's forays into the Internet of Things (IoT) -- including smart cars, cities, and various gadgets -- expansion into virtual reality (VR), and a focus on memory solutions, offer a world of upside. Intel is already leading the charge in another fast-growing opportunity: cloud-based data centers.
Intel's data center group generated $4.4 billion last quarter, a 9% increase. Intel's upstart IoT and non-volatile-memory units really hit home runs last quarter. The IoT division reported a 26% improvement to $720 million, and memory sales soared 58% to $874 million.
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Because it is a Dividend Aristocrat and a value investor's dream, Intel makes the list of high-yield stocks that deserve a deeper look.
Bet on the Internet of Things with this dividend stock
Neha Chamaria (Emerson Electric): While every Dividend Aristocrat is successful in its own right, Emerson Electric stands out for one compelling reason: It has among the best dividend track records in the group, having increased its dividends for 61 straight years now. The company's dividend growth is nothing to sneeze at either -- the payout has grown at an annual compounded clip of 10.4% since 1956.
Behind this incredible dividend-growth story is Emerson's transformation from a fan manufacturer to one of the world's leading automation solutions providers and an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) powerhouse. Today, the company is present in 155 locations across the globe, gets around half its sales from markets outside the U.S., and is generating double-digit returns on invested capital and equity.
With automation changing business dynamics across industries, Emerson is one of the best ways to play trends like the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The opportunities are huge, and Emerson's rich experience in the field, backed by strong financials and prudent management, positions the company well to exploit them.
As the company grows, so should shareholder returns. Emerson is targeting 5%-8% growth in sales and a sales-to-free-cash-flow conversion of 11%-14% through 2021. Couple that with management's FCF payout target range of 40%-50% and you know you can expect your dividend checks to not just arrive regularly but also get fatter with time. With a 3.2% dividend yield to boot, Emerson Electric is one of the best Dividend Aristocrats to consider.
This Aristocrat is golden
Rich Duprey (McDonald's): Even when McDonald's business was doing horribly, its stock was outperforming the market. Now that it's focused once more on its core customer, the burger joint should maintain its torrid pace.
Founded in 1949, McDonald's paid its first dividend in 1976 and has raised the quarterly payout every year since, typically by substantial amounts. In the past four years, as the company struggled to regain its footing, however, the dividend-increase rate dropped to the single digits. Last year McDonald's increased the payout by 5.6%.
Yet the dividend is not in any danger of being suspended or even cut, as the stock's payout ratio is a healthy 58%. And now as sales are beginning to grow once more, it's not unreasonable to assume the dividend hikes will resume their prior trajectory. Just don't expect that to happen right away.
Importantly, McDonald's still has to show it can attract more customers to its stores. As is the case for much of the rest of the restaurant industry, growing customer traffic has been a difficult task for the burger shop. Though the metric is up over the first six months of 2017, there's no guarantee that it will stay that way. It was up last year at this point and still ended negative for the year -- that was the fourth consecutive year McDonald's lost customers.
But as noted, McDonald's is concentrating on its core customer again and focusing on the value end of its menu, which, like the all-day-breakfast campaign that stopped sliding sales in their tracks, ought to get comparable-store sales heading in the right direction again.
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Neha Chamaria has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Tim Brugger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Emerson Electric and Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.