Whether you're looking for income that you need today, or just plan to keep reinvesting those dividends until some future date, dividends can really boost the returns you get from stocks. And if you really want the best long-term returns, finding stocks that can keep the payouts coming for years and years is even better. How long? Ideally, as long as you're alive to need the income.
We reached out to three of our top Motley Fool contributors to help identify some forever-income stocks, and they came back with CareTrust REIT Inc. (NASDAQ: CTRE), Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE), and Maxar Technologies LTD (NYSE: MAXR).
There aren't any real money trees, but these dividend stocks are as close as it gets. Image source: Getty Images.
Whether you're looking for a high yield or great growth prospects -- or a mix of both -- there's something for dividend investors of all stripes here. Keep reading below to learn more about these surprisingly dependable dividend payers.
A small REIT with very big long-term prospects
Jason Hall (CareTrust REIT): The average American is getting older, as the biggest generation in history -- baby boomers -- steadily reach retirement age. And by 2029, when the last boomer turns 65, there will be around 80 million 65-plus Americans. Forty million of them will be 80 or older.
In the years to come, it will take a lot more senior-focused healthcare and housing to make sure their needs are met. For CareTrust, a small healthcare and senior property-focused REIT, that means a lot of opportunity to grow.
The company has around 200 properties today, more than double the count when it went public in 2014. This explosive growth has really boosted cash flows, allowing management to regularly increase the dividend. It's up 64% since the quarterly payout was initiated in late 2014:
At current prices, that works out to a fat 4.6% yield, and one that's quite sustainable based on the long-term deals with healthcare providers who lease CareTrust's properties.
Is it worth buying today? My colleague Jim Royal says it's a bit too pricey, trading for about 15 times trailing funds from operations, and patient investors could get a better entry point down the road.
And I think there's a decent chance my esteemed colleague could turn out to be right in the near term. Nonetheless, I think CareTrust is still worth buying today, even if at a premium price. And if it does go on sale, it's the perfect stock to buy more of when the market falls.
A long-distance winner
Jeremy Bowman (Nike): Nike may not be the highest-yielding dividend stock on the market, but it's a good bet the athletic outfitter will be sharing profits with shareholders for the rest of their lives.
The company is the global leader in sports apparel and footwear, putting up steady growth throughout its history. It's one of the most recognized brands in the world, and counts icons like LeBron James, Serena Williams, and Cristiano Ronaldo among its spokespeople. The business it operates in -- designing, manufacturing, and marketing athletic apparel, footwear, and equipment -- should continue to expand, as interest in exercise and fitness in developed countries is growing and more people are entering the middle class in the developing world, meaning they can afford brand-name gear like Nike. The underlying drivers of sports and exercise are also essentially constants in the human experience, and it seems virtually guaranteed that people will still buy sneakers and athletic apparel of some kind 100 years from now.
Nike's industry is also surprisingly stable. In its early days in the 1970s, it was chasing adidas' leadership, and nearly 50 years later Nike and adidas are still the two biggest global sportswear companies, though Nike has taken the lead. While the company has faced pressure from adidas and Under Armour in recent years, the Swoosh has continued to grow, and Under Armour's recent troubles show the challenges of building a global sportswear company. Nike's new marketing campaign centering around Colin Kaepernick also demonstrates that the company still has its finger on the pulse of its customer, as online sales spiked 31% after the launch despite protests.
After a 60% rise in the stock, Nike offers only a modest dividend yield of 1%, but the company appears to be well on its way to becoming a Dividend Aristocat, as it's raised its dividend by 10% or more every year since the financial crisis and has a payout ratio of just 30%, meaning it can easily afford to hike its dividend in the future.
Your dividend future may lie in space
Rich Smith (Maxar Technologies): Today I want to introduce you to a stock I can pretty much guarantee no one is looking at as a "dividend play" -- because I'm pretty certain no one is looking at it at all.
Maxar Technologies is the name, and exploring space is its game. Once the foremost "space stock" in Canada, for the past few years Maxar has been steadily gobbling up American space companies, culminating in its purchase of DigitalGlobe -- and its moving of its headquarters to Colorado -- last year. Despite its making a move into America, though, almost no one on Wall Street is watching it -- or at least, no one is watching it closely to publish long-term earnings estimates.
I think that's a mistake.
Valued at just over $2.1 billion in market capitalization, Maxar is starting to look like a value stock. Its trailing revenues are more than $2 billion, and the company turned more than $225 million of that revenue into cold, hard free cash flow over the past 12 months, giving the stock a very attractive price-to-free-cash-flow ratio of less than 9.5.
On top of its value characteristics -- and uncharacteristic for a tech stock, and a space stock -- Maxar also pays its shareholders a generous dividend yield of 3.3% (which only consumes 58% of profits, by the way, so we know it's sustainable). If you believe, as I do, that space investing is becoming more and more relevant as companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX come to the fore, I see Maxar as a great way to invest in this field as a company that's both public and small enough that it has lots of room to grow.
The fact that Maxar also pays an above-average dividend is just icing on the cake.
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Jason Hall owns shares of CareTrust REIT. Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Nike. Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Nike. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.