By Larry Gellar
We've identified 5 "must own" dividend stocks that can provide investors nice income for years to come. Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) and Unilever (NYSE:UN) are two European companies that have strong operations around the globe. Additionally, Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT), General Mills (NYSE:GIS), and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) are three solid American companies. Let's see what's been happening with these 5 stocks:
Mattel, Inc. currently has a dividend yield of 3.30%. The stock has been moving sideways for some time now, although the company just received good news from Fortune. Mattel was named a top 100 company to work for, and Mattel's Alan Kaye had this to say: "At Mattel, we are committed to fostering creativity, cultivating talent and developing new and exciting ways to innovate and shape the future of play. We are extremely honored to be named among the 100 Best Companies to Work For." By treating its employees right, Mattel will continue to put out great products. In fact, toys like Barbie and all her accessories are high-margin items that allow the company to distribute value back to its shareholders. Additionally, Mattel compares favorably against Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS) and JAKKS Pacific (NASDAQ:JAKK). Mattel's price/earnings to growth ratio (1.25) is lower than those stocks, and Mattel boasts better margins too. Those numbers are 49.41% gross and 15.52% operating. A look at Mattel's 2010 cash flows also reveals why this stock is a dividend powerhouse. $528 million flowed into the company during that fiscal year, and the company even had some money left over to buy back stock. With 9% quarterly revenue growth year over year, this company may even increase its dividends soon.
General Mills, Inc. currently has a dividend yield of 3.00%. The stock has moved up from $38 to over $40 in the past two months, and many different divisions within this company are driving success. For example, General Mills' Betty Crocker will be creating Betty White's next birthday cake. Here's what Betty Crocker's Betty Olson had to say: "Betty White is one of the most popular actresses of our time, and Betty Crocker is honored to create this one-of-a-kind birthday cake for her." General Mills has also been working hard to go green. A new facility in Albuquerque, NM will use significantly less energy and water than its counterparts. In fact, those savings could help General Mills return value to shareholders in the future. General Mills offers a better operating margin (16.08%) than Danone (OTCQX:DANOY), Kellogg (NYSE:K), and Seneca (NASDAQ:SENEA), although investors will have to pay a relatively high price to sales ratio of 1.68 for GIS stock. Meanwhile, trends on the statement of cash flows also bode well for General Mills' dividends. The company brought in $1.526 billion of operating cash flow during fiscal year 2011 and $1.153 billion in the six months after that. The company has even had money left over to buy back stock.
Unilever NV currently has a dividend yield of 3.20%. That dividend yield has risen due to a recent fall in the stock price, but Unilever has good things going for it regardless. The company just finished its sale of Culver Specialty Brands to B&G Foods (NYSE:BGS). Unilever can distribute the 240 million euros from that sale back to its shareholders or use it for new investment. Also, like Mattel, Unilever is known for treating its employees right. The Human Rights Campaign has named it a "Best Place to Work," and here's what Chris Herrick, Vice President of Human Resources, had to say: "It is a true honor that our efforts and commitment to furthering equal rights for everyone in the workplace have been recognized." Happy employees will continue to put out the terrific products that bring in revenue for Unilever. Unilever offers a relatively low price/earnings to growth ratio (1.93) compared to Nestlé (OTCPK:NSRGY) and Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), so that too sweetens the deal. Furthermore, trends on the statement of cash flows bode well for future Unilever dividends. The company had 5.49 billion euros of operating cash flow in 2010 and 1.87 billion euros of operating cash flow in the first half of 2011.
Pfizer, Inc. has a dividend yield of 4.00%. The stock was actually trading below $19 in November but is now almost up to $22. While the company just announced a bit of bad news due to lack of success with its dimebon drug, the results aren't much of a surprise. Pfizer and Medivation (NASDAQ:MDVN) will cease work on the project and turn their attention elsewhere. Pfizer in particular has a similar project in the works with Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), so really not much is being lost. Pfizer's also been in the news because it's trying to sell its baby nutrition division. The company already has a couple of suitors in the mix, so Pfizer should be able to get a good price for the unit. Nestlé and Danone have expressed interest, and Pfizer may be able to use some of the proceeds to return value to shareholders. Compared to other drug companies like Bayer (OTCPK:BAYRY), Merck (NYSE:MRK), and Novartis (NYSE:NVS), Pfizer has terrific margins. Those numbers are 77.75% gross and 27.79% operating. Investors will have to pay 2.44 times sales for Pfizer, but trends on the statement of cash flows point to future juicy dividends. Operating cash flow was $11.454 billion for 2010 and $14.979 billion for the first 3 quarters of 2011.
Vodafone Group Plc has a dividend yield of 3.60%. The stock has fallen since the beginning of the year, which has propped up the dividend yield a bit. Regardless, Vodafone has a number of good things going for it. A new ruling from India's Supreme Court says that Vodafone won't have to pay taxes for its entry into that market in 2007. While multinational corporations around the globe are celebrating the court victory, Vodafone is particularly happy because it gets them off the hook for $2 billion. Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao had this to say: "We welcome the Supreme Court's decision, which underpins our confidence in India. We will continue to grow our Indian business." In fact, good business in India will enable Vodafone to return value to shareholders in the future. Compared to Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY), Vodafone trades for a lower price to earnings ratio (13.15) and has a better operating margin (14.49%). Vodafone's statement of cash flows is also very strong. The company had operating cash flow of 11.995 billion pounds in 2010 and 5.296 billion pounds in the first half of 2011. Analysts like Vodafone too, and Nomura recently upgraded the stock from Neutral to Buy due to the strength of Verizon Wireless. (Vodafone owns 45% of Verizon Wireless.)
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.