This article should be interesting. The stock market is just crushing it, and there is just not much room for opportunity. You can reach for value, but are you reaching for true value or are you reaching at a poor company that has what appears to be strong dividend metrics? I thought to rewind the tape back and really take a hard look at the Dividend Aristocrats. You know, those companies that increase their dividend every year for at least 25 years+? Yes, that is who I am talking about. Therefore, I peeled back the curtain on the top 10 yielding Dividend Aristocrats out there, seeing their performance and hey - maybe even finding some value.
With the December month of 2018 dropping like a brick, I took the top 10 yielding stocks that are Dividend Aristocrats to see what they've done from a stock performance and dividend increase standpoint, as well as a quick snapshot of what they've been up to. The prices are as of 3/13/2019 and will reflect the year-to-date activity and large news events.
1.) AT&T (NYSE:T) - $30.28 (+6.10%) - Though the yield alone placed AT&T at #1, I am surprised by its 2019 performance. It is a Top 5 Foundation Dividend Stock, but the headwinds have been harsh lately. Comments such as "Yield is too high!" "There is too much debt on their balance sheet", "Cable subscribers are declining, increasing streaming prices by 25%". However, the stock price is up over 6% this year. The company had a bad 2018, but it is firing on all cylinders in 2019. At these levels, the yield still stands strong at 6.74%, holding the top spot.
2.) AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) - $78.93 (-14.38%) - Down almost 15% this year, in 2019, AbbVie comes in at #2 due to the yield swelling to 5.42%. Another company feeling headwinds. Headwinds such as patent expiring, engineering its way to secure Humira's patent and even jacking up the price on patents. The company came to be as a result of a spin-off, and I even purchased a nice chunk of AbbVie earlier this year. Could it be here to stay? At a yield of 5.42%, and grandfathered into Aristocrat status, is the dividend safe going forward?
3.) Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) - $80.71 (+18.36%) - Exxon Mobil is back, baby! Talk about price appreciation, wow! It is up and closing in on 20% and it is no question - the company was a Dog of the Dow last year, and like they say, "What goes up, must come down" - well, looks like it's reversing now, so what was once down is now skyrocketing. Further, the yield is holding strong at 4.06%, which is above the market as a whole. The company is looking to push through in Alaska, and it's no question, it is smarter since the downturn in oil pricing, as the barrel is holding at $58, which is not too far from where they stock was. I wonder if Exxon's announcement of expectations for its earnings to grow by more than 140% by 2025 has anything to do with it.
4.) Chevron (NYSE:CVX) - $124.67 (+14.60%) - Not too far behind XOM, Chevron is also spiking in 2019. This has been quite the year for oil. Not to sound like a broken record, but the company is optimistic about the Permian Basin, as well as announced that at $60 per barrel, it is increasing its dividend by 6%, which has been above average as of late. Yielding over 3.90%, do you go with CVX, XOM or... both?
5.) Consolidated Edison (NYSE:ED) - $85.18 (+11.40%) - Oh my goodness! Another top 5 foundation stock that is blistering the charts into 2019. The yield stands strong at 3.47%, above average, and the company recently increased its divided by 3.50%. Not a ton, but an expected raise from this reliable utility company. It doesn't appear it is doing anything special, just trying to reduce expenses, increase technology and continue delivering its historical service of electricity.
6.) Target (NYSE:TGT) - $77.12 (+16.69%) - Yep, and another one. What was a dog of a company in 2018 has blossomed in 2019, reporting record adjusting earnings and also sharing where it stands in its transformation. It now has a full year of Shipt, which offers same-day delivery, as well as specific areas for pick-up/drive-up service, to cater to its customers. Further, the company redesigned more than 300 stores in 2018 and is continuing to do so in 2019, to re-kindle its guests' appetite. Sounds like 2019 could be a consistent year of growth for Target.
7.) Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH) - $50.65 (+13.56%) - It has been hammered in 2017-2018 due to the Amazon (AMZN) effect of the healthcare and the opioid crisis. However, CAH has skyrocketed back, to the tune of being up almost 14% - yikes! However, its yield still is strong at 3.76% yield, and the company recently reported earnings that had okay highlights. Items such as increased annual revenue versus the prior year, in fact the company even (as I quote) said, "... we are raising our guidance for the full fiscal year." Talk about a turnaround. Still think this company has what it takes to survive? It is still far from any highs, but boy, has it battled back.
8.) Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) - $46.22 (-2.40%) - About time we have one that is down this year! Coke has seen better days, but at least the company put together a nice video on their year, in case you don't like reading. Further, it is still sporting a 3.46% yield, which is very rare for the company. It is further closing in on the acquisition of Costa, a premier coffee brand/company. The scary part here is that Coca-Cola had earnings of $1.51 per share but is currently paying out $1.60, based on its latest 2.5% dividend increase. I believe there are low years of dividend growth to come - can you wait for that?
9.) Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) - $118.46 (+3.98%) - Currently yielding 3.48%, the company also announced a 3% dividend increase, which is similar/consistent amongst the group in the list (i.e., the 2-3% dividend increase players). In its earnings, KMB is expecting declines in revenue, but it is expected to continue cost savings. Its dividend appears safe and secure, no concerns there. However, the earnings per share appears stagnant, at around $6.60 on a go-forward basis. The price-to-earnings doesn't appear awful, based on that, at roughly 18x earnings. Could be one to look at further.
10.) Leggett & Platt (NYSE:LEG) - $43.64 (+21.76%) - Good old LEG! Bert and I were scooping shares up in 2018, and thankfully we did. It has performed the best in 2019, pushing beyond the 20% increase plateau, making it extremely difficult to buy the stock, that's for sure. LEG is sporting a 3.48% yield and a P/E below 17, based on expected earnings of $2.54. Ut recently acquired a public company for $1 billion in cash to further enhance its private label channel. May not be a bad price for some to initiate here, but I'll hold for now due to my current position.
Dividend Aristocrat conclusion
How about that, everyone? Those are the top 10 yielding Dividend Aristocrats, and all are doing OK in 2019, except for Coke and AbbVie. I do see ABBV on quite a few watch lists, and I have even purchased the stock myself. How about Coke, though? Do you see any future/promise from KO in coming back to its dividend-growing days? Or do you anticipate low-single digit growth for many years to come?
Personally, I would be interested in Coke if the stock dipped into the upper $30's again. I could see a position initiated and to collect dividends as I watch the company transform itself. However, at current prices, I will not be buying.
What do you think? Seeing any value above? Any on your watch list? Please share, I'm curious to see what you think of these Dividend Aristocrats!
Editor’s Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.