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2 Stocks to Help You Build Retirement Wealth

Keith Noonan, The Motley Fool

Having a well-constructed retirement portfolio can mean the difference between comfortably enjoying your non-working years and having to devote substantial time and energy to making sure that financial ends meet.

Many of the principles of sound investing are the same regardless of where you are in life, but with retirement investing, it's generally a good idea to shift your stock holdings to companies that return income to shareholders, trade at more conservative valuations, and have sturdy businesses capable of thriving over the long term.

With those characteristics in mind, read on to see why Disney (NYSE: DIS) and AT&T (NYSE: T) are two top investment vehicles to help you build retirement wealth.

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Image source: Getty Images.


When investing for retirement, one guiding principle should be to find great businesses that can go the distance. Disney has been a world-class company for decades, shaping its industry since 1927, and The House of Mouse's strengths should help it maintain a leading position in the entertainment business for many years to come. 

The company's collection of entertainment properties is unmatched the world over -- with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, and the Disney Princesses headlining a stable of franchises that's far too deep to profile here. With shareholders recently approving the company's $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox's television and film assets (excluding the sports and news units), Disney's brand advantage just became even stronger.

Early estimates suggest that the combined company may account for roughly 40% of annual domestic box office sales. That hefty share should give Disney even more flexibility in release timing and distribution, and the Fox assets should put it in a better position to thrive in the over-the-top streaming market. 

DIS Dividend Chart

DIS Dividend data by YCharts.

Disney shares trade at roughly 15 times this year's expected earnings and offer a 1.5% dividend yield. If the dividend offering doesn't sound like much, shareholders should know that they can probably look forward to substantial payout growth going forward.

The company has roughly doubled its payout over the last five years (it switched from an annual to biannual distribution in 2015), and its current distribution comes in at roughly a third of trailing free cash flow (FCF). It's possible that the acquisition of the Fox assets will slow the company's payout growth, but strong FCF growth and a low payout give the company leeway to continue growing its dividend faster than the market average.

Disney stock offers a non-prohibitive valuation, fantastic brand strength, underappreciated growth prospects, and a growing total return profile. That's an attractive combination for long-term investors.


AT&T offers a dividend profile that's hard to beat: Shares yield roughly 6.2% at current prices, and the company boasts a 34-year track record of delivering annual payout growth. It's also looking cheap on the heels of a share decline this year.

The stock has fallen out of favor amid heightened competition from chief rival Verizon, the rise of lower-priced offerings from T-Mobile and Sprint, and the looming threat that Alphabet and Facebook could disrupt the telecom space. AT&T's share price also appears to have been negatively affected by both the closing of its acquisition of Time Warner and news that the Justice Department would challenge the court ruling that allowed the $85 billion deal to go through.  

Shares have shed roughly 17% of their value year-to-date, and have gained just 4% over the last decade. However, when factoring in dividends, the stock has returned 80% on a total return basis over the last 10 years. AT&T is certainly facing some significant pressures, but with shares trading at roughly 9 times this year's expected earnings, the stock packs under-appreciated growth potential in addition to huge yield. 

As the operator of America's second-largest wireless network and leader in fiber infrastructure, Ma Bell is positioned to be a winner in the 5G network technology that will likely be at the heart of some of this century's biggest tech leaps. Early-stage 5G is expected to offer download speeds that are up to 100 times faster than the top range of current 4G LTE performance. It will also dramatically reduce latency -- paving the way for dramatic enhancements in autonomous vehicles, robotics, augmented reality, and a wide range of Internet of Things applications. There are going to be more devices connecting to the net, transmitting more data than ever before -- and AT&T is positioned to help make those connections and advance its own platform-as-a-service offerings. 

Despite concerns that the latest round of loans taken out by the company to fund the Time Warner acquisition has loaded the books with too much debt, the merger will ultimately work to AT&T's benefit. As the tech platform race continues to become increasingly competitive, the major players are scrambling to ramp up their content offerings to bring users into their respective ecosystems and keep them engaged.

Assuming the merger survives the appeals court challenge, which appears to be the most likely outcome at present, AT&T will enter the coming decades with leading film and television studios, a top video-game unit, and a collection of popular television networks. Those are assets that should improve its bundling initiatives, open up new advertising opportunities, and create synergy with its evolving 5G service.

With its huge dividend yield, low earnings multiple, and avenues for growth, AT&T could be a big winner for your retirement portfolio.

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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Keith Noonan owns shares of AT&T and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Facebook, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends T-Mobile US. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.