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3 Top Dividend Stocks to Buy in July

Jeremy Bowman, Rich Smith, and Tyler Crowe, The Motley Fool

Dividend stocks are like the color black -- they never go out of style. Investors love to get those quarterly checks in the mail, or wired to their brokerage accounts as is more likely the case these days. For retirees and older investors, those dividend checks may be the biggest reason they're invested in the market, and a healthy portfolio of dividend stocks can be a top source of income.

With second-quarter earnings season about to kick off, let's take a look at three dividend stocks that look like great buys today. Find out why our Motley Fool investors like Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (NYSE: BIP)Carnival Corporation (NYSE: CCL), and Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX).

A man holds several hundred dollar bills in his hand.

Image source: Getty Images.

Good price for a great capital allocator

Tyler Crowe (Brookfield Infrastructure Partners): Diversification can go right ... or wrong. A company can add new revenue streams that will help to offset the cyclical nature of a particular business. Or it can buy different assets for the sake of having new things, which ends up making the business overly complex and a distraction for management. The largest difference between these two diversification paths is prudent capital allocation, and that is what separates asset manager Brookfield Infrastructure Partners from the rest.

Brookfield Infrastructure owns and operates in 35 different business lines within the fields of utilities, transportation, energy storage and distribution, communication infrastructure, and water treatment. The one common thread that these businesses have is they are all asset-heavy businesses that have recurring revenue. Think things like toll roads, pipelines, transmission lines, and water treatment plants. Most of these businesses are regulated and ensure certain levels of profitability. 

Investing in these kinds of assets is good, but what separates Brookfield Infrastructure Partners from so many others in this kind of business is its penchant for sniffing out assets selling for the cheap. The company made some bold purchases over the past few years in Brazil such as acquiring Petrobras' natural gas distribution network in the country when other companies avoided it because of political risks. 

These kinds of investments are a large part of how Brookfield has been able to grow funds from operations -- similar to free cash flow -- by 20% annually over the past decade and grow its distribution to investors by 12% annually over that same time frame. With shares trading at a distribution yield of 4.4%, now looks like a good time to buy. 

Book a cruise while prices are still cheap

Rich Smith (Carnival Corporation): Ah, summer! The temperature's blazing, the pace of work is slowing. It's the time of year when a young investor's mind turns to thoughts of vacation. Perhaps a nice Caribbean cruise, and perhaps...Carnival Corporation stock?

Dividend investors in particular might want to take a look at Carnival Corporation shares in July, because right now, Carnival stock is selling for a price investors haven't seen in over a year. The reason is that last month, Carnival paired a powerful earnings performance (sales up 10% year over year, and profits up 48%) with a cautionary note on earnings in the current quarter. Citing worries over rising fuel costs and adverse exchange rates, Carnival warned that it might not earn as much in third-quarter 2018 as it did in Q3 2017 -- and investors sold off the stock.

But so what?

Even if earnings do tread water for a quarter or two, analysts who follow Carnival expect the company will end up growing earnings 21% this year, to $4.35 per share -- which would value the stock at just 13.2 times expected earnings. Earnings are expected to continue growing strongly in future years -- 12% next year, 15% the year after that, and perhaps as much as 36% in 2021! Over the next five years, analysts see Carnival averaging 15% annual earnings growth. Combined with a rich 3.5% dividend yield (that consumes less than half of Carnival's profits by the way), this is a stock that should sail right through today's troubled waters, and reward shareholders for years to come.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Jeremy Bowman (Starbucks Corporation): With Starbucks just having touched a three-year low, this may be an excellent opportunity to grab shares of the rising dividend stock. Following the sell-off, the coffee giant is now essentially cheaper than it's ever been, trading at a P/E ratio of 22.5, and it's dividend yield is also higher than ever before at 2.8%.

Considering the discount the stock offers today, now seems like a great time to buy. Naysayers will argue that Starbucks has fundamentally changed, and that the recent sell-off on news that it would close 150 stores and its comparable sales growth for the current quarter would only increase 1% represents a long-term shift in the stock. Indeed, investors fled when management announced the news as the stock fell 9% on June 20, but the market may be confusing short-term headwinds with a long-term change in the brand. This is not anything like what happened with Chipotle and the E. coli crisis, for example.

Starbucks still has ample opportunity in China, in digital with its rewards program, as well as in mobile order with pickup and delivery, and also in premiumization with its Roasteries and Reserve cafes. Though growth in the near term may be slower than investors would have liked, this is still a strong brand committed to rewarding shareholders as Starbucks has raised its dividend by 20% or more every year since it initiated in 2010, and though it will need a similar earnings growth to maintain that pace, its payout ratio is only 60% based on this year's expected earnings. That means investors should expect more strong dividend growth over the coming years, and with the stock on sale, now looks like a great time to take advantage. 

More From The Motley Fool

Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill and Starbucks. Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Tyler Crowe has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Chipotle Mexican Grill and Starbucks. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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