The winning formula for retirees who count on dividend stocks for income comes in two parts. A dividend-paying stock must be reliable in making regular payments, and it should increase its dividend annually. To find dependable dividend payers, look no further than the Dividend Aristocrats, a list of 50 companies in Standard & Poor's 500-stock index that have hiked their dividends every year for at least 25 consecutive years.
But as impressive as a quarter-century track record of annual dividend increases may be, there are some stocks that boast even longer streaks. After combing through the Dividend Aristocrats, we found eight stocks that have increased their dividends every year for at least 50 years. With more than a half-century of regular hikes, these dividend payers are as dependable as they come, and fit well in any retirement portfolio.
Data is as of February 24, 2017, unless otherwise indicated. Click on symbol links in each slide for current share prices and more.
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Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson, founded in 1886 and public since 1944, operates in several different segments of the health care industry. In addition to pharmaceuticals, it makes over-the-counter consumer products such as Band-Aids and Listerine. It also manufactures medical devices used in surgery. Like many health care companies, a radical change in Obamacare under the Trump administration could hurt business, so it's comforting that J&J has raised its dividend every year for 54 straight years.
Procter & Gamble
With major brands such as Tide detergent, Pampers diapers and Gillette razors, Procter & Gamble is among the world's largest consumer products companies. Although the economy ebbs and flows, demand for products such as toilet paper, toothpaste and soap tends to remain stable. That hardly makes the company recession-proof, but it has proven to be a reliable dividend payer for over a century. P&G has paid shareholders a dividend since 1891 and has raised its dividend annually for 60 years in a row.
Coca-Cola has long been known for quenching consumers' thirst, but it's equally effective at quenching investors' thirst for income. The company has paid a quarterly dividend since 1920, and that dividend has increased annually for the past 55 years. With the U.S. market for carbonated beverages on the decline for more than a decade, according to market research, Coca-Cola has responded by adding bottled water, fruit juices and teas to its product lineup to keep the cash flowing.
Industrial conglomerate 3M, which makes everything from adhesives to electric circuits, has been hurt by the renewed strength of the U.S. currency. Since the company sells its products worldwide, a strong dollar makes 3M's goods more expensive to overseas buyers and reduces revenue when foreign sales made in local currencies are converted into greenbacks. Foreign-currency translation reduced sales by 1.2% in 2016. Still, the company has weathered tough times before without sacrificing a dividend that dates back a century and has increased annually for 59 consecutive years.
Selling staples ranging from toothpaste to dish detergent, demand for Colgate-Palmolive's products tends to remain stable in economies both good and bad. However, the company derives the vast majority of its sales from outside the U.S., making it vulnerable to a strong dollar like the one we have today. (The value of foreign sales gets diminished when local currencies are converted into dollars.) Over the long haul, however, you can count on Colgate's dividend, which dates back more than a century to 1895 and has increased annually for 53 straight years.
Emerson Electric makes a wide variety of industrial products, ranging from control valves to electrical fittings. The prolonged downturn in oil prices weighed on Emerson last year, as energy companies continued to cut back on spending. However, the company reported some improvement in orders from North American energy customers toward the end of 2016. Emerson has boosted its dividend payout for 60 straight years.
The company is best known for its NAPA Auto Parts chain, which has 6,000 locations in the U.S., but Genuine Parts also makes industrial replacement parts, office products and electrical materials. Sales for 2016 came in at $15.34 billion, essentially flat with 2015, but the company is projecting a 3% to 4% increase in sales this year. Since its founding in 1928, Genuine Parts has pursued a strategy of acquisitions to fuel growth. In October, it bought Braas Company, a distributor of products and services for industrial automation and control. The deal is expected to generate an extra $90 million a year in sales. A long-time dividend machine, Genuine Parts has hiked its dividend annually for 60 years in a row.
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The global manufacturer operates in four industries: energy, fluids, engineered systems and refrigeration equipment. You might have fueled up your car from one of its gas pumps or bought groceries from one of its refrigerated display cases. Since Dover sells to customers worldwide, unfavorable foreign exchange rates have hurt sales of late. A strong dollar means sales made overseas lose value when converted back into U.S. currency. Foreign exchange rates reduced 2016 sales by 1% and are projected to shave 2% off sales this year. But that hasn't stopped the company from maintaining it focus on dividend growth. Dover has recorded 60 straight years of dividend increases.
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