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Summary

  • Both the Dividend Champions and Dividend Aristocrats cover stocks with 25 or more consecutive years of dividend increases.
  • But there are significant differences between the two compilations. It is noteworthy that 55 Dividend Champions are not members of the Aristocrats.
  • Most of the differences can be explained by whether a stock is a member of the S&P 500.

On the surface, it appears that the Dividend Champions and Dividend Aristocrats should be the same stocks. The main requirement to be in either collection is a record of 25 straight years of dividend increases.

However, there are 54 Aristocrats and 105 Champions. Four Aristocrats are not Champions, and 55 Champions are not Aristocrats. 50 stocks are both.

I wondered why there are differences.

The Aristocrats are compiled by the S&P. While the Aristocrat concept existed prior to 2005, in that year, the S&P formalized it by creating an index with that name. Here is their current description of the stocks in that index:

S&P 500® Dividend Aristocrats® measure the performance S&P 500 companies that have increased dividends every year for the last 25 consecutive years.

And here is how David Fish of The DRiP Investing Resource Center
describes the Champions:

U.S. Companies with 25+ Straight Years Higher Dividends

Let's look at the companies first, then we'll discuss why the they are different. Here are the combined Champions and Aristocrats, arranged alphabetically.

Company Name

Ticker

Champion, Aristocrat, or Both

In S&P 500?

Sector

Industry

No. Years

Higher Dividends

Yield

1st Source Corp.

SRCE

C

No

Financials

Banking

26

2.18

3M Company

MMM

Both

Yes

Industrials

Conglomerate

56

2.54

Abbott Labs

ABT

A

Yes

Health Care

Healthcare Equipment

AbbVie

ABBV

A

Yes

Health care

Drugs

ABM Industries Inc.

ABM

C

No

Industrials

Business Services

47

2.20

AFLAC Inc.

AFL

Both

Yes

Financials

Insurance

31

2.31

Air Products & Chem.

APD

Both

Yes

Materials

Chemical-Specialty

31

2.34

Altria Group Inc.

MO

C

Yes

Consumer Staples

Tobacco

45

5.29

American States Water

AWR

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Water

59

2.70

Archer Daniels Midland

ADM

Both

Yes

Consumer Staples

Agriculture

39

2.36

AT&T Inc.

T

Both

Yes

Telecomm

Telecomm

30

5.76

Atmos Energy

ATO

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Gas

30

3.21

Automatic Data Proc.

ADP

Both

Yes

Information Tech

Business Services

39

2.47

Becton Dickinson & Co.

BDX

Both

Yes

Health Care

Medical Instruments

42

1.89

Bemis Company

BMS

Both

Yes

Materials

Packaging

31

2.75

Black Hills Corp.

BKH

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Electric

44

2.75

Bowl America Class A

BWL.A

C

No

Consumer Discretionary

Recreation

41

4.34

Brady Corp.

BRC

C

No

Industrials

Business Services

28

2.92

Brown-Forman Class B

BF-B

Both

Yes

Consumer Staples

Beverages-Alcoholic

30

1.38

C.R. Bard Inc.

BCR

Both

Yes

Health Care

Medical Instruments

42

0.58

California Water Service

CWT

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Water

47

2.76

Cardinal Health

CAH

A

Yes

Health Care

Drugs

17

1.69

Carlisle Companies

CSL

C

No

Industrials

Rubber & Plastics

37

1.11

Chevron Corp.

CVX

Both

Yes

Energy

Oil & Gas

26

3.47

Chubb Corp.

CB

Both

Yes

Financials

Insurance

49

2.29

Cincinnati Financial

CINF

Both

Yes

Financials

Insurance

54

3.75

Cintas Corp.

CTAS

Both

Yes

Industrials

Business Services

31

1.27

Clarcor Inc.

CLC

C

No

Industrials

Auto Parts

30

1.17

Clorox Company

CLX

Both

Yes

Consumer Staples

Cleaning Products

36

3.25

Coca-Cola Company

KO

Both

Yes

Consumer Staples

Beverages-Non-alcoholic

52

3.19

Colgate-Palmolive Co.

CL

Both

Yes

Consumer Staples

Personal Products

50

2.16

Commerce Bancshares

CBSH

C

No

Financials

Banking

46

2.02

Community Trust Banc.

CTBI

C

No

Financials

Banking

33

3.23

Computer Services Inc.

CSVI

C

No

Information Tech

Technology-Services

25

1.92

Conn. Water Service

CTWS

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Water

44

3.01

Consolidated Edison

ED

Both

Yes

Utilities

Utility-Electric

40

4.50

Diebold Inc.

DBD

C

No

Information Tech

Business Equipment

60

3.08

Donaldson Company

DCI

C

No

Industrials

Industrial Equipment

27

1.31

Dover Corp.

DOV

Both

Yes

Industrials

Machinery

58

1.59

Eagle Financial Services

EFSI

C

No

Financials

Banking

27

3.30

Eaton Vance Corp.

EV

C

No

Financials

Financial Services

33

2.33

Ecolab

ECL

A

Yes

Materials

Cleaning Products

22

1.02

Emerson Electric

EMR

Both

Yes

Industrials

Industrial Equipment

57

2.64

Energen Corp.

EGN

C

No

Energy

Utility-Gas

32

0.75

ExxonMobil Corp.

XOM

Both

Yes

Energy

Oil & Gas

31

2.61

Family Dollar Stores

FDO

Both

Yes

Consumer Discretionary

Retail-Discount

38

1.89

Federal Realty Inv. Trust

FRT

C

No

Financials

REIT-Shopping Centers

46

2.80

Franklin Resources

BEN

Both

Yes

Financials

Financial Services

34

0.90

Genuine Parts Co.

GPC

Both

Yes

Consumer Discretionary

Auto Parts

58

2.61

Gorman-Rupp Company

GRC

C

No

Industrials

Machinery

41

1.14

H.B. Fuller Company

FUL

C

No

Materials

Chemical-Specialty

44

0.83

HCP Inc.

HCP

Both

Yes

Financials

REIT-Health Care

29

5.62

Helmerich & Payne Inc.

HP

C

Yes

Energy

Oil & Gas

42

2.53

Hormel Foods Corp.

HRL

Both

Yes

Consumer Staples

Food Processing

48

1.69

Illinois Tool Works

ITW

Both

Yes

Industrials

Machinery

39

2.03

Johnson & Johnson

JNJ

Both

Yes

Health Care

Drugs/Consumer Prod.

51

2.87

Kimberly-Clark Corp.

KMB

Both

Yes

Consumer Staples

Personal Products

42

3.04

Lancaster Colony Corp.

LANC

C

No

Consumer Staples

Food/Consumer Prod.

51

1.95

Leggett & Platt Inc.

LEG

Both

Yes

Consumer Discretionary

Furniture/Bldg. Prod.

42

3.74

Lowe's Companies

LOW

Both

Yes

Consumer Discretionary

Retail-Home Improv.

51

1.44

McCormick & Co.

MKC

Both

Yes

Consumer Staples

Food Processing

28

2.23

McDonald's Corp.

MCD

Both

Yes

Consumer Discretionary

Restaurants

38

3.41

McGraw Hill Financial Inc.

MHFI

Both

Yes

Financials

Publishing

41

1.51

Medtronic Inc.

MDT

Both

Yes

Health Care

Medical Devices

36

1.89

Mercury General Corp.

MCY

C

No

Financials

Insurance

27

5.43

MGE Energy Inc.

MGEE

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Electric/Gas

38

2.82

Middlesex Water Co.

MSEX

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Water

41

3.76

Mine Safety Appliances

MSA

C

No

Industrials

Medical/Safety Equip.

42

2.33

NACCO Industries

NC

C

No

Consumer Discretionary

Machinery

/Consumer

28

1.70

National Fuel Gas

NFG

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Gas

43

2.00

Nordson Corp.

NDSN

C

No

Industrials

Machinery

50

0.98

Northwest Natural Gas

NWN

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Gas

58

4.29

Nucor Corp.

NUE

Both

Yes

Materials

Steel & Iron

41

2.95

Old Republic International

ORI

C

No

Financials

Insurance

33

4.69

Parker-Hannifin Corp.

PH

C

Yes

Industrials

Industrial Equipment

58

1.59

Pentair Ltd.

PNR

Both

Yes

Industrials

Industrial Equipment

37

1.24

PepsiCo Inc.

PEP

Both

Yes

Consumer Staples

Beverages/Snack Food

42

3.27

Piedmont Natural Gas

PNY

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Gas

35

3.67

PPG Industries Inc.

PPG

Both

Yes

Materials

Conglomerate

42

1.23

Procter & Gamble Co.

PG

Both

Yes

Consumer Staples

Consumer Products

57

3.06

Questar Corp.

STR

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Gas

34

3.03

Raven Industries

RAVN

C

No

Industrials

Business Equipment

27

1.31

RLI Corp.

RLI

C

No

Financials

Insurance

38

1.57

RPM International Inc.

RPM

C

No

Materials

Chemical-Specialty

40

2.29

Sherwin-Williams Co.

SHW

Both

Yes

Materials

Paints

36

1.10

Sigma-Aldrich Corp.

SIAL

Both

Yes

Materials

Chemical-Specialty

38

0.97

SJW Corp.

SJW

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Water

47

2.53

Sonoco Products Co.

SON

C

No

Materials

Packaging

31

2.95

Stanley Black & Decker

SWK

Both

Yes

Industrials

Tools/Security Products

46

2.41

Stepan Company

SCL

C

No

Materials

Cleaning Products

46

1.12

Sysco Corp.

SYY

Both

Yes

Consumer Staples

Food-Wholesale

44

3.22

T. Rowe Price Group

TROW

Both

Yes

Financials

Financial Services

27

2.17

Target Corp.

TGT

Both

Yes

Consumer Discretionary

Retail-Discount

46

2.75

Telephone & Data Sys.

TDS

C

No

Telecomm

Telecomm

40

2.35

Tennant Company

TNC

C

No

Industrials

Machinery

42

1.17

Tompkins Financial Corp.

TMP

C

No

Financials

Banking

27

3.30

Tootsie Roll Industries

TR

C

No

Consumer Staples

Confectioner

48

1.10

UGI Corp.

UGI

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Electric/Gas

26

2.53

United Bankshares Inc.

UBSI

C

No

Financials

Banking

40

4.35

Universal Corp.

UVV

C

No

Consumer Staples

Tobacco

43

3.54

Universal Health Realty Trust

UHT

C

No

Financials

REIT-Health Care

27

5.87

Valspar Corp.

VAL

C

No

Materials

Paints

36

1.39

Vectren Corp.

VVC

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Electric/Gas

54

3.74

VF Corp.

VFC

Both

Yes

Consumer Discretionary

Apparel

41

1.79

W.W. Grainger Inc.

GWW

Both

Yes

Industrials

Electronics-Wholesale

42

1.46

Walgreen Company

WAG

Both

Yes

Consumer Staples

Retail-Drugstores

38

1.85

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

WMT

Both

Yes

Consumer Staples

Retail-Discount

41

2.57

Weyco Group Inc.

WEYS

C

No

Consumer Discretionary

Footwear

32

2.73

WGL Holdings Inc.

WGL

C

No

Utilities

Utility-Gas

38

4.38

Why Are 4 Aristocrats Not Champions?

David Fish, who compiles the Champions document each month, notes the following about the four companies that are Aristocrats but not Champions:

Abbott (NYSE:ABT) and AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV): Abbott spun off AbbVie in 2013. The usual test was applied for a spin-off "parent" to ABT. Using the pro rata assignment of cost basis, ABT would have been kept as a Champion if its subsequent dividend had been at least that percentage of the old one, or about 25¢ per share. But the company started paying 14¢, which was definitely lower, so it was deleted. ABBV came into existence with the spin-off, so it could not claim a streak of increases, as it had not been a publicly traded company.

Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH): This company paid the same dividend in 1996 as in 1995. Therefore, its streak is 17 years. CAH is listed as a Contender on the Dividend Champions document with a streak of 17 years.

Ecolab (NYSE:ECL): Ecolab's website shows a dividend decrease in 1993, and ECL's press release announcing its December, 2013 dividend stated that it has increased its dividend for 22 years. ECL is listed as a Contender on the Dividend Champions document with a streak of 22 years.

Why Are 55 Champions Not Aristocrats?

The S&P uses a few additional hurdles for membership in the Aristocrats beyond a 25-year streak of dividend increases. The requirement that the company be in the the S&P 500 explains most of the differences between the Champions and Aristocrats.

Of the 55 Champions that are not Aristocrats, 52 are not in the S&P 500. You can see this in the 4th column of the table above, where "Yes" means that a stock is in the S&P 500 and "No" means that it is not.

That leaves three companies that are Champions but not Aristocrats as anomalies.

Altria (NYSE:MO): The S&P deleted Altria when the company spun off Phillip Morris (NYSE:PM) in 2008 under what seems to be a different methodology from what it uses now. Under its current standard for spin-offs (see below), it appears that MO would not have been deleted. Having been deleted, however, it has remained out of the index to the current date.

Here is how the S&P currently handles spin-offs for the Aristocrats:

If the spin-off is added to the parent index (S&P 500), both the parent company and spin-off companies remains in the index until the next index rebalancing, provided that each gives an indication it will continue and/or initiate a consistent dividend paying policy.

Under this methodology, it appears not only that MO should have stayed as an Aristocrat, but also that PM should have been added, since it is in the S&P 500.

Helmerich & Payne (NYSE:HP): I do not see why HP is not an Aristocrat. It has increased its dividends for 42 years, and its market cap far exceeds the S&P's minimum for the Aristocrats of $3B.

Parker-Hannifin (NYSE:PH): Similar to HP, it seems like PH should be an Aristocrat. It has increased dividends for 58 straight years, and its market cap is well in excess of $3B.

Evolution of the Aristocrats

I do not know the complete history of the Aristocrats. The S&P's index for them (SPDAUDP) was created in 2005, so the list has been formal since then.

Many stocks have been dropped from SPDAUDP since it was created. SA member "hjtheuns" was kind enough to supply this list of stocks that have been deleted from the Aristocrats in the past few years, based on his own research:

  • In 2013 Pitney-Bowes (NYSE:PBI) was removed.
  • In 2012 CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) was removed.
  • In 2011 Lilly (NYSE:LLY), SuperValu (NYSE:SVU) and Integrys Energy (NYSE:TEG) were removed.
  • In 2010 Avery Dennison (NYSE:AVY), BB&T (NYSE:BBT), Gannett (NYSE:GCI), General Electric (NYSE:GE), Johnson Controls (NYSE:JCI), Legg Mason (NYSE:LM), M&T Bank (NYSE:MTB), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), State Street (NYSE:STT) and U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB) were removed.
  • In 2009 Anheuser-Busch Inbev (NYSE:BUD), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Comerica (NYSE:CMA), Fifth Third Bancorp (NASDAQ:FITB), Keycorp (NYSE:KEY), Nucor (NYSE:NUE), Progressive (NYSE:PGR), Regions Financial (NYSE:RF) and Wrigley (WWY) were removed.

The S&P reconstitutes the Aristocrats Index every January. In contrast, the Champions are updated every month. Thus if a stock cuts its dividend, it will remain in the Aristocrats until the following January, whereas it will be deleted from the Champions at the end of that month.

Note: Just before I submitted this article for publication, Eric Parnell published an article that discusses in more detail the stocks that have been dropped from the Aristocrats. You can find it here.

The Champions and Aristocrats as Research Sources

The Aristocrats comprise an interesting list, and as noted above, it contains a few companies that are not Champions.

But for research purposes, there is no comparison between the Champions and Aristocrats. The Champions document (available as both a spreadsheet and PDF) contains a wealth of information beyond being a mere "list."

  • Besides the 105 Champions with 25+ years of increases, it covers 220 Contenders with 10+ years of increases and 184 Challengers with 5+ years. The combination is referred to as the "CCC."
  • The document does far more than list the names of the stocks. It gives detailed information about 10 years of dividend increases, dividend growth and acceleration rates, fundamental and technical information, and the like.
  • It lists all the deletions, additions, adjustments, and changes that have ever been made and gives the reason for each.
  • It covers "Near-Challengers" that have 4-year streaks of dividend increases and are poised to be added to the Challengers if they increase for a 5th year.
  • It covers "Frozen Angels" that froze their dividends for (usually) one year and then resumed their increase streaks.
  • It is updated at the end of every month.
Source: Why Aren't The Dividend Aristocrats And Dividend Champions The Same?