The 2017 Dividend Aristocrats List:  25+ Years of Rising Dividends Sure Dividend

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The 2017 Dividend Aristocrats List: 25+ Years of Rising Dividends


Updated September 1st, 2017

The Dividend Aristocrats are a select group of 51 S&P 500 stocks with 25+ years of consecutive dividend increases.

They are the ‘best of the best’ dividend growth stocks.  The Dividend Aristocrats have a long history of outperforming the market.

The requirements to be a Dividend Aristocrat are:

There are currently 51 Dividend Aristocrats.  You can download an Excel spreadsheet of all 51 (with metrics that matter) by clicking the link below:
 

Note:  In 2017, General Dynamics (GD) and Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRT) were added to the Dividend Aristocrats Index and HCP, Inc. (HCP) was removed from the Index.

Dividend Aristocrats Rebalanced

Source:  S&P News Release

You can see detailed analysis on all 51 further below in this article.  Analysis includes valuation, growth, and competitive advantage(s).

The downloadable Dividend Aristocrats Excel Spreadsheet List below contains the following for each stock in the index:

All Dividend Aristocrats are high quality businesses based on their long dividend histories.  A company cannot pay rising dividends for 25+ years without having a strong and durable competitive advantage.

But not all Dividend Aristocrats make equally good investments.  You can use the Dividend Aristocrats spreadsheet to quickly find quality dividend investment ideas.

How to Use The Dividend Aristocrats List To Find Dividend Investment Ideas

The list of all 51 Dividend Aristocrats is valuable because it gives you a concise list of all S&P 500 stocks with 25+ consecutive years of dividend increases.

These are businesses that have both the desire and ability to pay shareholders rising dividends year-after-year.  This is a rare combination.

Together, these two criteria are powerful – but they are not enough.  Growth and value must be considered as well.

The spreadsheet above allows you to sort by forward price-to-earnings ratio (or PEG ratio) so you can quickly find undervalued, high quality dividend stocks.

Here’s how to use the Dividend Aristocrats list to quickly find high quality dividend growth stocks potentially trading at a discount:

  1. Download the list
  2. Sort by PEG ratio, smallest to largest
  3. Research the top stocks further

Here’s how to do this quickly in the spreadsheet

Step 1:  Download the list, and open it.

Step 2:  Click on the small gray down arrow next to ‘Modified PEG”, and then click on ‘Smallest to Largest’.

Sort by Dividend Aristocrats

Step 3:  Review the highest ranked Dividend Aristocrats before investing.  You can see detailed analysis on every Dividend Aristocrat further below in this article.

That’s it; you can follow the same procedure to sort by any other metric in the spreadsheet.

This article examines the characteristics and performance of the Dividend Aristocrats in detail  A table of contents for easy navigation is below.

Table of Contents

Performance

The Dividend Aristocrats Index has outperformed the market by a wide margin over the last decade – with lower volatility.

July 2017 Dividend Aristocrats

Source:  S&P Fact Sheet

The performance of the Dividend Aristocrats by calendar year versus the S&P 500 is shown in the image below:

Dividend Aristocrats Performance 1991 - 2016

Source:  Ploutos

The Dividend Aristocrats index has produced excellent risk-adjusted returns over the last 25 years.

The Dividend Aristocrat Index’s annualized risk-adjusted returns are far in excess of the S&P 500’s over the last decade.

Higher total returns with lower volatility is the ‘holy grail’ of investing.  It is worth exploring the characteristics of the Dividend Aristocrats in detail to determine why they have performed so well.

Note that a good portion of the outperformance relative to the S&P 500 comes during recessions (2000 – 2002, 2008).  Dividend Aristocrats have historically seen smaller drawdowns during recessions versus the S&P 500.  This makes holding through recessions that much easier.

Case-in-point:  In 2008 the Dividend Aristocrats Index declined 22%.  The S&P 500 declined 38%.

Great businesses with strong competitive advantages tend to be able to generate stronger cash flows during recessions.  This allows them to gain market share while weaker businesses fight to stay alive.

The Dividend Aristocrats Index has trounced the market over the last decade…

I believe dividend paying stocks outperform non-dividend paying stocks for three reasons:

  1. A company that pays dividends is likely to be generating earnings or cash flows so that it can pay dividends to shareholders.  This excludes ‘pre-earnings’ start-ups and failing businesses.  In short, it excludes the riskiest stocks.
  2. A business that pays consistent dividends must be more selective with the growth projects it takes on because a portion of its cash flows are being paid out as dividends.  Scrutinizing over capital allocation decisions likely adds to shareholder value.
  3. Stocks that pay dividends are willing to reward shareholders with cash payments.  This is a sign that management is shareholder friendly.

I believe that Dividend Aristocrats have historically outperformed the market and other dividend paying stocks because they are, on average, higher quality businesses.

A high quality business should outperform a mediocre business over a long period of time, all other things being equal.

For a business to increase its dividends for 25+ consecutive years, it must have or at least had in the very recent past a strong competitive advantage.

Sector Overview

A sector breakdown of the Dividend Aristocrats index is shown below:

August 2017 Dividend Aristocrats Sector Weights

The top 3 sectors by weight in the Dividend Aristocrats are Consumer Staples, Industrials, and Health Care.  The weight of these sectors in the S&P 500 is shown below for comparison:

The Dividend Aristocrats Index is tilted toward Consumer Staples and Industrials relative to the S&P 500.

It is also significantly underweight the Information Technology sector.

The IT sector comprises 22.3% of the S&P 500, and just 2.2% of the Dividend Aristocrats Index.

The Dividend Aristocrats Index is similar to Warren Buffett’s dividend holdings; underweight technology, overweight high quality established businesses in stable industries.

The Dividend Aristocrat Index is filled with stable ‘old economy’ consumer products businesses and manufacturers; the 3M’s (MMM), Coca-Cola’s (KO), and Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) of the investing world.  These ‘boring’ businesses aren’t likely to generate 20%+ earnings-per-share growth, but they also are very unlikely to see large earnings drawdowns as well.

The Dividend Aristocrats In Focus Analysis Series

You can see analysis on every single Dividend Aristocrat below.  Each is sorted by GICS sectors and listed in alphabetical order by name:

Consumer Staples

Industrials

Health Care

Consumer Discretionary

Financials

Materials

Energy

Information Technology

Real Estate

Telecommunication Services

Utilities

Looking for no-fee DRIP Dividend Aristocrats?  This article examines all 15 no-fee DRIP Dividend Aristocrats in detail.

Historical Dividend Aristocrats List
(1989 – 2016)

The image below shows the history of the Dividend Aristocrats Index from 1989 through 2016:
Dividend Aristocrats 1989 - 2016

Note:  CL, GPC, and NUE were all removed and re-added to the Dividend Aristocrats Index through the historical period analyzed above.  I am unclear as to the reasoning behind this.

This information was compiled from the following sources:

Interested in why companies were removed from the Dividend Aristocrats Index?

Take a look at this article for a review of why companies fell off the list.

You can see the (amazing) 25 year historical performance of the Top 9 Dividend Aristocrats here.

Other Dividend Lists & Final Thoughts

The Dividend Aristocrats list is not the only way to quickly screen for businesses that regularly pay rising dividends.

There is nothing magical about the Dividend Aristocrats.  They are ‘just’ a collection of high quality shareholder friendly businesses that have strong competitive advantages.

Purchasing this type of business at fair or better prices and holding for the long-run will likely result in favorable long-term performance.

You have a choice in what type of business you buy into.  You can buy into the mediocre, or the excellent.

Often, excellent businesses are not more expensive (based on their price-to-earnings ratio) than mediocre businesses.

“When we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever.”

– Warren Buffett


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