2021 Dividend Aristocrats List | See All 65 Now Sure Dividend

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The 2021 Dividend Aristocrats List | See All 65 Now


Updated on March 1st, 2021 by Bob Ciura
Spreadsheet data updated daily

The Dividend Aristocrats are a select group of 65 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 65 Dividend Aristocrats. You can download an Excel spreadsheet of all 65 (with metrics that matter such as dividend yields and price-to-earnings ratios) by clicking the link below:

 

Note: On January 22nd, 2021, International Business Machines (IBM), NextEra Energy (NEE), and West Pharmaceutical Services (WST) were added to the Dividend Aristocrats Index. Carrier Global (CARR), Otis Worldwide (OTIS), and Raytheon Technologies (RTX) were all removed, leaving the total count at 65.

Source: S&P News Releases

You can see detailed analysis on all 65 further below in this article, in our Dividend Aristocrats In Focus series. Analysis includes valuation, growth, and competitive advantage(s).

Table of Contents

You can also watch the following video for more information on the Dividend Aristocrats and see a table of the Dividend Aristocrats below.

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

The downloadable Dividend Aristocrats Excel Spreadsheet List above 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 today. That’s where the spreadsheet in this article comes into play. You can use the Dividend Aristocrats spreadsheet to quickly find quality dividend investment ideas.

The list of all 65 Dividend Aristocrats is valuable because it gives you a concise list of all S&P 500 stocks with 25+ consecutive years of dividend increases (that also meet certain minimum size and liquidity requirements).

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. Value must be considered as well.

The spreadsheet above allows you to sort by forward price-to-earnings 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 ‘Forward PE 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: Apply a filter function to each column in the spreadsheet.

Step 3: Click on the small gray down arrow next to ‘Forward P/E Ratio’, and then click on ‘Descending’.

Step 4: 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.

Performance Through February 2021

In February 2021, the Dividend Aristocrats, as measured by the Dividend Aristocrats ETF (NOBL), registered a positive total return of 2.9%. It outperformed the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) for the month.

Short-term performance is mostly noise. Performance should be measured over a minimum of 3 years, and preferably longer periods of time.

The Dividend Aristocrats Index has matched the performance of the broader market index over the last decade, with a 13.5% total annual return for the Dividend Aristocrats and the S&P 500 Index. But, the Dividend Aristocrats have exhibited slightly lower volatility than the broader market.

Source: S&P Fact Sheet

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%. That same year, 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.

Related: The video below shows the Great Recession performance of every Dividend Aristocrat (excluding the new Aristocrats for 2019 and 2020).

 

The Dividend Aristocrats Index has beaten the market over the last decade (and over the last 28 years)…

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.

In our view, 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:

The top 2 sectors by weight in the Dividend Aristocrats are Industrials and Consumer Staples. The Dividend Aristocrats Index is tilted toward Consumer Staples and Industrials relative to the S&P 500. These 2 sectors make up nearly 40% of the Dividend Aristocrats Index, but less than 20% of the S&P 500.

The Dividend Aristocrats Index is also significantly underweight the Information Technology sector, with a 3.2% allocation compared with over 20% allocation within the S&P 500.

The Dividend Aristocrat Index is filled with stable ‘old economy’ blue chip 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 7 Best Dividend Aristocrats Today

The following section ranks our top 7 Dividend Aristocrats to buy today, based on expected annual returns through 2026. These 7 stocks represent attractive long-term buys for dividend growth investors.


Dividend Aristocrat #7: S&P Global Inc. (SPGI)

S&P Global offers financial services, including credit ratings, benchmarks, analytics, and data, to the global capital and commodity markets. It derives revenue from four operating segments: Ratings, Market Intelligence, Platts, and S&P Dow Jones Indices. S&P Global has a highly profitable business model. It is the industry leader in credit ratings and stock market indexes, which provide it with high profit margins and growth opportunities.

S&P Global has a very strong business model. The company has generated impressive growth rates over the past several years.

Source: Investor Presentation

Today, the S&P 500 is arguably the most widely-known stock market index in the world. The company generates more than $6 billion in annual revenue, with 20,000 employees.

S&P Global’s business performed very well during in 2020, even as the coronavirus pandemic sent the U.S. economy into recession. Fourth-quarter revenue increased 8%, while full-year revenue rose 11%. Adjusted earnings-per-share increased 7% for the fourth quarter and 23% for 2020.

S&P’s own economists project 5% global GDP growth for 2021. This should lift the broader financial services sector, and S&P Global in particular. The company’s S&P Dow Jones Indices segment generated 8% revenue growth in 2020 along with 5% operating profit growth, primarily due to growth in asset-linked fees. Meanwhile, the Market Intelligence segment posted organic revenue growth of 7% for 2020. Separately, Platts revenue increased 4% for the year, while Ratings segment revenue increased 15%.

For 2021, S&P Global expects to grow revenue in the mid-single digits on a percentage basis. Adjusted EPS is expected to be in the range of $12.25 to $12.45. At the midpoint of guidance, this would imply 5.6% earnings-per-share growth in 2021. Free cash flow is expected to be in a range of $3.3 billion to $3.4 billion. We expect annual earnings-per-share growth of 8% through 2026.

S&P Global currently trades at ~$338 per share. Using the company’s adjusted earnings-per-share guidance for 2021 of $12.35, the stock has a price-to earnings ratio of 27.4. Our fair value estimate is at 26 times earnings, given the sustained, outstanding performance the company has produced.

Still, shares appear slightly overvalued. But adding 8% expected EPS growth plus a current dividend yield of 0.9%, total returns are estimated to reach 7.9% per year over the next five years.


Dividend Aristocrat #6: Lowe’s Companies (LOW)

Lowe’s Companies is the second-largest home improvement retailer in the US (after Home Depot). Lowe’s operates nearly 2,000 home improvement and hardware stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Lowe’s had another strong year in 2020. Adjusted earnings-per-share increased 41.5% in the fourth quarter, due to 28.1% comparable sales growth. For the year, Lowe’s generated adjusted earnings-per-share of $8.86. Lowe’s benefited from the continued strength in the housing market.

We forecast 7% annual EPS growth over the next five years. Lowe’s has a long runway of growth up ahead.

Source: Investor Presentation

Another key to Lowe’s success has been its booming e-commerce platform. This is a key differentiator between successful retailers like Lowe’s and the many retailers that are reporting losses or going out of business. Lowe’s is benefiting right alongside the e-commerce boom.

Lowe’s enjoys competitive advantages from scale and brand power as it operates in a duopoly with Home Depot. Neither of the two are expanding their store count significantly, and neither is interested in a price war. Both should remain highly profitable, as the home improvement market in the US is large enough for two companies to succeed.

Based on expected EPS of $9.48 for the current fiscal year, Lowe’s stock trades for a P/E ratio of 17.1. Our fair value estimate is a P/E of 20. The combination of an expanding valuation, expected EPS growth and dividends lead to total expected returns of 10.0% per year through 2026.


Dividend Aristocrat #5: AbbVie Inc. (ABBV)

AbbVie is a pharmaceutical company spun off by Abbott Laboratories (ABT) in 2013. Its most important product is Humira, which is now facing biosimilar competition in Europe, which has had a noticeable impact on the company. Humira will lose patent protection in the U.S. in 2023. Even so, AbbVie remains a giant in the healthcare sector, with a large and diversified product portfolio.

Source: Investor Presentation

AbbVie reported its fourth-quarter earnings results on February 3rd. Quarterly revenue of $13.9 billion increased 59% year-over-year, and was primarily due to the acquisition of Allergan. Earnings-per-share increased 32% for the fourth quarter. For the full year, revenue increased 38% while adjusted earnings-per-share increased 18% to $10.56.

The company issued strong guidance for 2021 which calls for adjusted earnings-per-share in a range of $12.32 to $12.52. At the midpoint of company guidance, adjusted EPS are expected to increase 18% for 2021.

AbbVie’s major risk is loss of exclusivity for Humira. Fortunately, the company’s massive research and development platform is a competitive advantage. Research and development expense totaled $6.5 billion in 2020. AbbVie has multiple growth opportunities to replace Humira, particularly in the therapeutic areas of immunology, hematology, and neuroscience.

Based on expected 2021 earnings-per-share of $12.42, AbbVie trades for a price-to-earnings ratio of 8.7. Our fair value estimate for AbbVie is a price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) of 10. We view AbbVie as undervalued. An expanding P/E multiple could boost shareholder returns over the next five years. In addition, we expect annual earnings growth of 3.0%, while the stock has a 4.8% dividend yield. We expect total annual returns of 10.1% per year over the next five years.


Dividend Aristocrat #4: Roper Technologies (ROP)

Roper Technologies is a specialized industrial company that manufactures products such as medical and scientific imaging equipment, pumps, and material analysis equipment. Roper Technologies also develops software solutions for the healthcare, transportation, food, energy, and water industries.

The company has generated an impressive track record of growth over the past five years.

Source: Investor Presentation

Roper reported its Q4 and full-year results on January 29th, 2021, for the period ending December 31st, 2020. Quarterly revenues and adjusted EPS were $1.51 billion and $3.56, indicating a year-over-year increase of 8% and 5%, respectively.

Roper keeps on expanding its portfolio, and by taking advantage of the current ultra-low rates environment, the company deployed a massive $6 billion of capital towards high-quality software acquisitions through the year. The $5.35 billion purchase of Vertafone highlights the company’s financial resilience, as it was entirely funded using cash on hand, its credit facility, and debt.

Along with financial results, management updated its FY2021 guidance, expecting EPS of $14.35-$14.75 for the full year, with first quarter adjusted EPS of $3.26-$3.32.

Roper has proven consistent growth in its profitability over the years. From 2015 to 2020, the company grew its EPS by an annualized rate of 17.1%. The company’s pipeline of high-quality acquisition opportunities remains robust, and its existing software subsidiaries keep growing organically, adding to its recurring revenues. The Vertafone acquisition will add to Roper’s growth, and the company has guided for double-digit annual cash flow growth going forward.

We are raising our five-year EPS growth expectations to 10%, to reflect these estimates. Roper has also a tremendous dividend growth record, numbering 28 years of consecutive dividend increases. Over the past decade, DPS has grown annually by nearly 24%, on average.

Based on expected EPS of $14.55 for 2021, shares of Roper trade for a P/E ratio of 26.5, which is slightly above our fair value P/E of 26, which reflects the company’s resilient growth prospects. Shares are essentially fairly valued, but we expect 10% annual EPS growth plus the 0.6% dividend yield leading to total annual returns of 10.6% over the next five years.


Dividend Aristocrat #3: Becton, Dickinson, & Company (BDX)

Becton, Dickinson & Co., or BD,is a global leader in the medical supply industry. The company was founded in 1897 and has over 70,000 employees across 190+ countries. The company generates around $17 billion in annual revenue, with approximately 43% of revenues coming from outside the U.S.

BDX has been very active on the acquisition front in recent years, and is now comprised of three segments.

Medical Division products include needles for drug delivery systems, and surgical blades. The Life Sciences division provides products for the collection and transportation of diagnostic specimens. The Intervention segment includes several of the products produced by what used to be Bard.

Source: Investor Presentation

On 2/4/2021, BDX released earnings results for the first quarter of fiscal year 2021. Revenue grew 25.8% to $5.32 billion, beating estimates by $450 million. Adjusted earnings-per-share of $4.55 was a 72% improvement from the prior year and $1.39 per-share better than expected. COVID-19 diagnostic revenues totaled $867 million and contributed 20.5% of the year-over-year growth. Each segment of the company had higher revenue than the prior year.

Medical segment revenue increased 6.9%,Pharmaceutical Systems grew nearly 10% while Medical Management Solutions revenue increased more than 8%. By geography, the U.S. improved 28.8%, international markets were up 18.2%, with developed nations growing by almost 29% and China up 2.2%. BDX also raised its guidance for fiscal 2021 and now expects adjusted EPS in the range of $12.75 to $12.85, up from $12.40 to $12.60 previously.

BDX has increased earnings-per-share by 7.8% per year over the past 10 years, and has grown earnings in 8 out of the last 10 years. We feel that BDX can grow earnings at a rate of 10% per year through fiscal 2026 due to a combination of mid-single-digit organic sales growth, revenue gains due to the Bard acquisition, and future share repurchases.

With a P/E of 19.2 compared with our fair value estimate of 18.4, we see the stock as slightly overvalued. Still, the combination of expected EPS growth and the 1.4% dividend yield lead to total expected returns of 10.8% per year over the next five years.


Dividend Aristocrat #2: Atmos Energy (ATO)

Atmos Energy can trace its beginnings all the way back to 1906 when it was formed in Texas. Since that time, it has grown both organically and through mergers to a market cap of $11 billion. The company distributes and stores natural gas in eight states, and serves over 3 million customers.

Source: Investor Presentation

On February 2nd, the company released financial results for the fiscal 2021 first quarter. Revenue was up 4.4% year-over-year to $915 million, but that number still missed estimates by more than $70 million. Distribution operating income was up $29 million to $210 million for the quarter, which was attributable to a $37 million increase in rates and customer growth. Pipeline and storage operating income was up $17 million to $89 million, bolstered by rate increases and a decline in operating and maintenance expenses.

Operating cash flow was $157 million, a $15 million decrease year-over-year. The decline in cash flow was from the increase in the price of natural gas, the timing of customer collections, and the timing of gas cost recoveries. Earnings-per-share came to $1.71 in Q1, up 16% from $1.47 in the year-ago period. Given the earnings beat in Q1, we’ve boosted our earnings-per-share estimate for this year by a nickel to $5.05.

Atmos’ earnings-per-share has risen steadily in the past decade as the company continues to grow both organically and through acquisitions. We are forecasting a five-year annual EPS growth rate of 6.5% moving forward. The company can achieve this growth through continued improvements in gross margin, reductions in operating costs as a percentage of revenue, and top line growth via acquisitions as well as customer growth.

Shares currently trade for a P/E of 17.0, which is below our fair value estimate of 19. In addition to returns generated by an expanding valuation multiple, we expect the company to grow EPS by 7% per year, while the stock also has a 2.9% dividend yield. Total returns are estimated to reach 11.7% per year over the next five years.


Dividend Aristocrat #1: AT&T Inc. (T)

AT&T is the largest communications company in the world, operating in three distinct business units: AT&T Communications (providing mobile, broadband and video to 100 million U.S. consumers and 3 million businesses); WarnerMedia (including Turner, HBO, Warner Bros. and the Xandr advertising platform); and AT&T Latin America (offering pay-TV and wireless service to 11 countries).

On January 27th, 2021 AT&T reported Q4 and full-year 2020 results. For the quarter, the company generated $45.7 billion in revenue, down from $46.8 billion in Q4 2019, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to weigh on results. Reported net income equaled a loss of -$13.9 billion or -$1.95 per share due to non-cash charges. On an adjusted basis, earnings-per-share equaled $0.75 compared to $0.89 in the year-ago quarter. The $0.75 figure does not adjust for -$0.08 in COVID-19 impacts.

Source: Investor Presentation

For the year AT&T generated $171.8 billion in revenue, down from $181.2 billion in 2019. The pandemic impacted revenue across all businesses particularly, WarnerMedia and domestic wireless service revenues. On an adjusted basis earnings-per-share equaled $3.18 for 2020, versus $3.57 in 2019. This figure does not adjust for -$0.43 in COVID-19 impacts. AT&T ended the quarter with a net debt-to-EBITDA ratio of 2.70x.

AT&T also provided a full year 2021 outlook. For this year, the company anticipates 1% revenue growth, adjusted earnings-per-share to be stable with 2020 and a dividend payout ratio in the high-50% range.

AT&T is a colossal business, but it is not a fast grower. From 2007 through 2019 AT&T grew earnings-per-share by 2.2% per year. While the company is picking up growth opportunities, notably in its recent acquisition of Time Warner, we recognize the premiums paid and the fact that the company’s legacy businesses are steady or declining.

AT&T is optimistic about generating reasonable growth and the payout ratio had been falling, resulting in excess funds to divert toward paying down debt. On February 25th, AT&T announced it will spin off multiple assets into a separate company called New DIRECTV that will own and operate the DirecTV satellite TV business, as well as AT&T TV and U-verse video. AT&T will own 70% of the company, and will sell 30% ownership to TPG for approximately nearly $8 billion, which will be used to pay down debt.

Two individual growth catalysts for AT&T are 5G rollout and its recently-launched HBO Max service. AT&T continues to expand 5G to more cities around the country. AT&T now provides access to 5G to parts of 355 U.S. markets, covering more than 120 million people.

On May 27th, AT&T launched streaming platform HBO Max. At the end of 2020, AT&T had 41 million combined HBO Max and HBO subscribers in the United States. The new platform is a critical step for AT&T to keep up in the streaming wars.

Shares of AT&T trade for a price-to-earnings ratio of 9.0, below our fair value P/E of 11. The stock also has an attractive dividend yield of 7.3%. Combined with 3% expected annual earnings-per-share growth, we expect total annual returns of 13.1% per year over the next five years.

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. The newest Sure Analysis Research Database report for each security is included as well, with its date in brackets.

Consumer Staples

Industrials

Health Care

Consumer Discretionary

Financials

Materials

Energy

Information Technology

Real Estate

Telecommunication Services

Utilities

Looking for no-fee DRIP Dividend Aristocrats? Click here to read an article examining all 15 no-fee DRIP Dividend Aristocrats in detail.

Historical Dividend Aristocrats List
(1989 – 2020)

The image below shows the history of the Dividend Aristocrats Index from 1989 through 2020:

Note: CL, GPC, and NUE were all removed and re-added to the Dividend Aristocrats Index through the historical period analyzed above. We are unsure as to why. Companies created via a spin-off (like AbbVie) can be Dividend Aristocrats with less than 25 years of rising dividends if the parent company was a Dividend Aristocrat.

Historical Aristocrats Image April 2020

This information was compiled from the following sources:

Other Dividend Lists & Final Thoughts

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

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

Purchasing these types of stocks 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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