Updated on February 23rd, 2021 by Bob Ciura
Investors looking for high-quality dividend growth stocks, should look first and foremost at the Dividend Aristocrats. The Dividend Aristocrats are an exclusive list of 65 stocks in the S&P 500 Index, with 25+ years of consecutive dividend increases.
The Dividend Aristocrats are an elite group of dividend growth stocks. For this reason, we created a full list of all 65 Dividend Aristocrats.
You can download your free copy of the Dividend Aristocrats list, along with important metrics like dividend yields and price-to-earnings ratios, by clicking on the link below:
T. Rowe Price Group (TROW) is on the Dividend Aristocrats list, and is one of just 7 Dividend Aristocrats from the financial sector. It has increased its dividend for 35 years in a row, including an impressive 20% hike on February 9th. T. Rowe Price has a strong brand, a highly profitable business, and future growth potential.
The stock has a 2.7% dividend yield, which is above the ~1.6% average dividend yield of the broader S&P 500 Index. Add it all up, and T. Rowe Price stock possesses many of the qualities dividend growth investors typically look for.
T. Rowe Price was founded in 1937 by Thomas Rowe Price, Jr. In the eight decades since, T. Rowe Price has grown into one of the largest financial services providers in the United States. Today, the company has a market cap of ~$37 billion and manages over $1 trillion in assets.
The company provides mutual funds, advisory services, and separately managed accounts for individuals, institutional investors, retirement plans, and financial intermediaries.
T. Rowe Price has a diverse client base, in terms of assets and client type. The company has recorded an impressive track record of investment performance in the past 5 and 10 years.
Source: Investor Presentation
This is a difficult climate for asset managers. Certain investors have grown weary of higher trading costs and annual fees. The onset of low-cost exchange traded funds, or ETFs, have successfully lured client assets away from traditional mutual funds that have higher fees. This has caused brokers to lower commissions and fees to retain client assets.
However, shares of T. Rowe Price continue to perform well, and the company has strong growth potential in the years ahead.
T. Rowe Price has a number of catalysts for future growth. The first catalyst is higher assets under management. For the fourth quarter, ending assets under management (AUM) came in at $1.47 trillion, up 12.2% compared to the previous quarter, led by $160.6 billion in net market appreciation. Net revenue increased 18.0% to $1.733 billion year-over-year. Adjusted net income equaled $680.2 million or $2.89 per share, compared to $495.2 million or $2.03 per share in the same quarter the previous year.
For the year, T. Rowe Price generated net revenue of $6.207 billion, a 10.5% increase compared to 2019, representing 0.497% of average AUM. Adjusted net income equaled $2.277 billion or $9.58 per share, up 19% compared to $1.976 billion or $8.07 per share in 2019.
Share repurchases are also a part of the company’s earnings-per-share growth plan. T. Rowe Price reduced its weighted-average diluted share count by 3.1% in 2020. Fewer outstanding shares makes each share more valuable, by increasing earnings-per-share.
Competitive Advantages & Recession Performance
T. Rowe Price’s competitive advantage comes from its brand recognition and expertise. The company enjoys a good reputation in the financial services industry. This helps generate fees, a major driver of revenue. It has built this reputation through strong mutual fund performance.
T. Rowe Price considers its employees to be its most valuable assets. There is good reason for this, since it is critical for an asset management company to have qualified experts and retain top talent. This focus on building a strong brand gives the company competitive advantages, primarily the ability to keep existing clients, and bring in new ones.
T. Rowe Price did not perform well during the Great Recession:
- 2007 earnings-per-share of $2.40
- 2008 earnings-per-share of $1.82 (24% decline)
- 2009 earnings-per-share of $1.65 (9% decline)
- 2010 earnings-per-share of $2.53 (53% increase)
As could be expected, T. Rowe Price experienced a sharp decline in earnings-per-share in 2008 and 2009. When stock markets decline, equity investors typically withdraw funds to raise cash.
Fortunately, the company remained profitable throughout the recession, which allowed it to continue raising its dividend each year. And, T. Rowe Price quickly recovered in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Earnings increased significantly in 2010, and by 2011 had reached a new high.
Also notable is the company’s strong balance sheet. As of the most recent quarter T. Rowe held $2.2 billion in cash and $10.7 billion in total assets (56% of which were investments) against $3.0 billion in total liabilities and zero long-term debt.
Valuation & Expected Returns
We expect T. Rowe Price to produce adjusted earnings-per-share of $10.50 for 2020. Using the recent share price of ~$161, the stock has a price-to-earnings ratio of 15.3. We have a 2026 target price-to-earnings ratio of 14. If the stock valuation returns to the fair value estimate, annual returns would be reduced by 1.8% annually over the next five years.
For a company with a strong brand, consistent profitability, and earnings growth, T. Rowe Price stock seems to be just slightly overvalued. We see earnings-per-share increasing at a rate of 4% annually through 2026 due to a combination of rising AUM and share repurchases.
Over the long-term, earnings growth in the mid-single digits seems realistic and attainable for T. Rowe Price. If that proves accurate, a potential breakdown of future returns is as follows:
- 4% earnings growth
- 2.7% dividend yield
- -1.8% multiple reversion
T. Rowe Price is expected to return 4.9% annually through 2026. T. Rowe Price is a particularly attractive stock for dividend growth. The company has raised its dividend for over 30 years in a row, including a 20% increase for 2021. And, the is highly secure, with an expected payout ratio below 40% for this year.
Investors scanning the financial sector for dividend stocks may naturally land on the big banks. But there is only one bank stock on the list of Dividend Aristocrats, People’s United Financial (PBCT).
In fact, most Dividend Aristocrats hailing from the financial sector, come from the insurance and investment management industry. This speaks volumes about the stability of their business models.
T. Rowe Price is an industry leader, and should continue to increase its dividend each year. However, with just a mid-digit expected rate of return over the next five years, T. Rowe Price receives a hold recommendation from Sure Dividend at this time. Investors are encouraged to wait for a pullback before purchasing this Dividend Aristocrat.