Companies make the list because of excellent or horrible growth potential, recent or inconsistent dividend increases, paltry or impressive yields… In short, anything that qualifies as noteworthy.
Whether you want to pencil some stocks into your "watch list" or avoid them like the plague, let it serve as food for thought.
So without further ado, on to this week's lineup.
First on deck …
A Dividend History Peppered with Increases
From paprika and bay leaves, to fennel seeds and coriander, taking a quick look at any well-stocked spice rack is enough to show, anecdotally, that McCormick (MKC) has a veritable lockdown on the spices and seasonings market.
The company's wide economic moat hasn't gone to waste, either. Indeed, it's translated into outperformance in the market. Year-to-date, McCormick swept up returns of 33.48%. That's far and above the gains posted over the same period by the packaged food industry and the S&P 500 - 11.36% and 14.32%, respectively.
Better yet, McCormick's been paying dividends since 1981 and raising them for 18 consecutive years. Currently, the stock pays a quarterly dividend of $0.31 - or $1.24 annualized - giving it a projected yield of 1.87%.
It's a paltry yield, true. But the excellent history of increases isn't the only reason we should consider it …
McCormick not only raises dividends reliably, it does so aggressively. With a five-year average growth rate of 9.17%, factoring in the yield-on-cost (YOC) into the future shows us that, as always, initial yield isn't everything.
Case in point: Assuming a steady 9% growth rate, reinvesting dividends for 10 years lands a YOC of 5.1%. That's already more than two times the average yield on the S&P 500. Holding and reinvesting longer compounds the effect, of course.
There's no reason to doubt the long-term ability of the stock to keep paying and raising, either. While the company's been busy making substantial raises, the dividend payout ratio (DPR) has actually fallen 5% over the last five years, to its current trailing 12-month DPR of 43.6%.
The only downside? The stock's trading at 23.9 times earnings, making it arguably too expensive to enter into at its current valuation. But if it heads south, McCormick could be a worthy long-term dividend growth stock.
Dividends That Come Out in the Wash
As an immediately recognizable household brand, Clorox (CLX) not only keeps the whites white and the colors vibrant, the company's made sure to keep its own dividend history just as unsoiled.
Over its 35 years of paying dividends, it not only claims zero cuts, it has an uninterrupted streak of annual increases, as well.
Clorox currently pays a quarterly dividend of $0.64, or $2.56 annualized, giving it a projected yield of 3.43%. That stands about a percentage point and a half above the average yield on the S&P 500.
And its five-year average dividend growth rate of 11.9% means its dividend program isn't just spinning its wheels. The substantial annual raises will translate into dependable, growing income. In both good times and bad, too, considering that the economic doldrums haven't stopped Clorox from raising its dividend.
In 2011, its DPR hit 106% - a level that would have most boards voting through dividend cuts. Instead, Clorox not only paid, it showed dogged commitment by following through with its annual raise. (Since then, the DPR has returned to a manageable 60%, giving the program plenty of headroom going forward.)
The stock's not simply aces regarding dividends, either. It's also outperforming the market. Year-to-date, it's cleaned up with 15.64% in gains - versus just 9.72% for the household and personal products sector over the same period.
But just like with McCormick, Clorox's valuation could use a trimming. It's currently trading at 18.1 times earnings. That's above both the company's five-year average P/E of 16.6 and the S&P 500's average P/E of 14.9.
Bottom line: McCormick and Clorox are out-and-out excellent dividend payers. Shrewder investors might want to wait to see valuations come down, but moderate spendthrifts may want to pencil them into their "Buy" lists straightaway.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.