With the broader market yielding less than 2% today, many investors are looking to individual stocks for higher income returns. But a market-beating yield isn't worth the risk if it's being paid by a business that's shackled with a weak long-term growth outlook.
Below, Motley Fool investors explain why they think Phillip Morris International (NYSE: PM), Sysco (NYSE: SYY), and Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) are free from that problem. Read on to see how these companies pair strong market positions with unusually high dividend payouts.
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A smoking hot opportunity
Rich Duprey (Philip Morris International): Split from its parent company Altria in 2007, Philip Morris International is a tobacco giant in many of the 180 markets in which it operates around the world, holding the No. 1 or No. 2 position in a number of them. Last year, it increased its share in 15 separate markets, including Brazil, Canada, France, and Mexico, and it estimates that its share of the entire global cigarette market (excluding the U.S.) was approximately 15.3%. Excluding China, it estimates its share at an amazing 27.9%.
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Marlboro remains the premier brand in its portfolio, which accounted for approximately 35% of Philip Morris's total 2016 shipment volume. While it receives the bulk of its revenues from traditional cigarettes, it may be in electronic cigarettes where it eventually dominates, particularly in the U.S. Production of its iQOS heat-not-burn technology device is ramping up, with production capacity expected to reach 50 billion units by the end of 2017, up from 15 billion last year. Next year, it believes it will be able to increase its installed capacity by 4 billion units per month.
It markets the iQOS under the Marlboro brand as HeatSticks and it has an application before the FDA to receive a reduced-risk label, which would give it a huge competitive advantage over its rivals.
With a dividend yield of 4.2%, investors ought to be reap rich rewards from this tobacco giant, particularly if, as many analysts expect, it will one day make a pitch to acquire its one-time parent Altria.
This stock will satisfy your hunger for dividend growth
Dan Caplinger (Sysco): Some highly successful businesses are able to command an industry without many people even realizing it. For years, many investors didn't even know about Sysco, thinking that people were referring to the networking technology giant with a similar sounding name. Yet Sysco has been a dominant player in the food services industry for decades, providing customers in the restaurant, concession, hospitality, and institutional food businesses with the raw ingredients, delivery, and distribution services they need in order to be successful at serving their own end-customers.
Sysco doesn't have a complete monopoly stranglehold over the food industry, with rivals including the much smaller US Foods and privately held companies like Aramark. Yet Sysco is still a giant, and it's working at broadening its reach through international expansion while also boosting market share. Sysco has had to deal with some cyclical weakness among its restaurant customers, but it has been around long enough to be able to weather similar ups and downs while staying financially healthy. With a dividend yield of 2.5%, some would question whether Sysco is truly a high-yield leader. Yet with a greater than 30-year track record of annual dividend increases, Sysco qualifies as a Dividend Aristocrat, and that should make it a valuable player in any income investor's portfolio.
Bigger is better
Demitri Kalogeropoulos (Procter & Gamble): Monopolies are part of Procter & Gamble's DNA. For example, the consumer goods giant's Pantene and Head & Shoulders brands make it the biggest player in hair care, with 20% of the global market. P&G owns 40% of the paper towel industry thanks to the Bounty franchise. Its Gillette brand delivers a whopping 65% of the global market for razors and blades, too.
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P&G lost ground in many of these franchises recently, and that fact helps explain why growth has been running below target for several years now. Organic sales inched up by 2% in fiscal 2016 after rising by just 1% in the prior year.
Still, the overall market posture is benefiting from a purge of roughly 100 underperforming brands. With the remaining franchises focused on dominant names like Tide, Pampers, and Gillette, P&G believes its sales growth will recover even as profitability rises. So far, fiscal 2018 is progressing right along with management's projections.
The outlook isn't bright for the broader industry, which means investors can't expect anything like the double-digit growth pace that P&G enjoyed a decade ago. They're getting decent value from this business, though, through higher profitability and a dividend that's yielding a full percentage point above the stock market average.
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Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.