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Stocks represent ownership interests in real companies run by real management teams, but how can you tell if a company is being run well? This is an important question to ask because how well a company is run has big implications to its performance and its ability to continue paying a dividend.

One way to measure this is by looking at the corporate governance policies of the company, such as its board composition and shareholder rights.

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) gives ratings for four areas of corporate governance, on risks related to: the board, the audit committee, the compensation committee, and shareholder rights.

We ran a screen on dividend champions, companies that have consistently raised their dividend for the past 25 years. We screened these companies for those receiving “low concern” ratings in all four corporate governance categories rated by ISS.

‪Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the top six stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.‬

We also created a price-weighted index of the stocks mentioned below, and monitored the performance of the list relative to the S&P 500 index over the last month. To access a complete analysis of this list's recent performance, click here.

click to enlarge

Do you think these companies pay reliable dividends? Use this list as a starting-off point for your own analysis.

List sorted by dividend yield.

1. Pepsico, Inc. (NYSE:PEP): Engages in the manufacture, marketing, and sale of foods, snacks, and carbonated and non-carbonated beverages worldwide. Market cap of $96.95B. Dividend yield at 3.32%, payout ratio at 49.27%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock has lost 0.55% over the last year.

2. Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE:PG): Provides consumer packaged goods in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $178.48B. Dividend yield at 3.23%, payout ratio at 47.47%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock has gained 6.3% over the last year.

3. Illinois Tool Works Inc. (NYSE:ITW): Manufactures a range of industrial products and equipment worldwide. Market cap of $22.74B. Dividend yield at 2.93%, payout ratio at 35.49%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock has gained 2.8% over the last year.

4. Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE:MDT): Manufactures and sells device-based medical therapies worldwide. Market cap of $35.85B. Dividend yield at 2.86%, payout ratio at 31.71%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock has lost 3.66% over the last year.

5. The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO): Distributes, and markets nonalcoholic beverages worldwide. Market cap of $154.92B. Dividend yield at 2.79%, payout ratio at 33.32%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock has gained 13.41% over the last year.

6. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT): Operates retail stores in various formats worldwide. Market cap of $197.73B. Dividend yield at 2.54%, payout ratio at 29.84%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock has had a good month, gaining 10.26%.

7. Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM): Engages in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas, and manufacture of petroleum products, as well as transportation and sale of crude oil, natural gas, and petroleum products. Market cap of $394.17B. Dividend yield at 2.32%, payout ratio at 23.58%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock has had a good month, gaining 11.19%.

8. McCormick & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MKC): Engages in the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of flavor products and other specialty food products to the food industry worldwide. Market cap of $6.49B. Dividend yield at 2.29%, payout ratio at 39.63%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock has gained 16.35% over the last year.

9. Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE:ADM): Procures, transports, stores, processes, and merchandises agricultural commodities and products in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $19.30B. Dividend yield at 2.21%, payout ratio at 19.40%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.4% over the last week.

10. Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT): Operates general merchandise stores in the United States. Market cap of $37.24B. Dividend yield at 2.18%, payout ratio at 24.54%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock has gained 6.74% over the last year.

11. Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ:CTAS): Provides corporate identity uniforms and related business services in North America and Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Market cap of $3.83B. Dividend yield at 1.83%, payout ratio at 28.13%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock has gained 10.28% over the last year.

12. The Sherwin-Williams Company (NYSE:SHW): Engages in the development, manufacture, distribution, and sale of paints, coatings, and related products primarily in North and South America, the Caribbean region, Europe, and Asia. Market cap of $8.70B. Dividend yield at 1.78%, payout ratio at 31.62%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.85% over the last week.

13. Hormel Foods Corp. (NYSE:HRL): Produces and markets various meat and food products in the United States and Internationally. Market cap of $7.70B. Dividend yield at 1.76%, payout ratio at 27.20%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 6.14% (equivalent to 6.38 days of average volume). The stock has gained 31.42% over the last year.

14. W.W. Grainger, Inc. (NYSE:GWW): Distributes facilities maintenance and other related products and services in the United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, India, Puerto Rico, China, Colombia, and Panama. Market cap of $11.87B. Dividend yield at 1.56%, payout ratio at 26.41%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock has gained 42.28% over the last year.

15. Gorman-Rupp Co. (NYSEMKT:GRC): Designs, manufactures, and sells pumps and related fluid control products worldwide. Market cap of $584.99M. Dividend yield at 1.29%, payout ratio at 22.50%. According to ISS, the company has "low concern" in all corporate governance categories. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.77% over the last week.

*ISS ratings sourced from Yahoo! Finance, all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: 15 Dividend Champions With Strong Corporate Governance