When it comes to finding great stocks to hold for the long-term, investors have many routes that can be taken to accumulate wealth.
Some stocks are value-oriented, offering shareholders a cheap purchase price relative to the earnings power of the business. Some offer high levels of growth, promising future price appreciation based upon much higher earnings. And of course, some offer high dividend yields, which are attractive not only for income-oriented investors that want to use dividends to live off of, but for those that want to reinvest dividends as well.
We believe the sweet spot of dividend stocks is to buy ones that have more than one of these traits, and in this article, we’ll take a look at three high-dividend stocks we think investors can hold for the long-term.
Hear Me Now on This One
Our first stock is Verizon Communications (VZ) , which offers communications, technology, and entertainment products and services to consumers and businesses globally. The company is perhaps most known for its wireless phone service, and the hardware sales related to that business. Verizon has an enormous, nationwide 5G network built out to support that business, giving it a competitive advantage in that space. The company has about 115 million wireless retail connections, in addition to seven million broadband connections, and about four million Fios connections.
Verizon was formed in 1983, generates about $137 billion in annual revenue, and trades today with a market cap of $153 billion.
Despite being what amounts to a utility, Verizon actually has a decent history of earnings growth. In fact, the company’s five-year earnings-per-share growth rate has averaged nearly 7%. We think Verizon’s growth going forward will be more like 4% annually, and that it will be driven by revenue growth, primarily. Verizon is buying back stock in small quantities, so it is likely to see a modest tailwind from that effort as well.
The stock is extremely cheaply valued today as well, as it trades for just 7 times this year’s earnings estimates. That compares very favorably to our estimate of fair value at 11 times earnings, and given this, we expect a 9%+ tailwind to total returns from the valuation alone in the years to come.
Verizon is cheaply valued, and has a decent growth outlook, but its dividend is likely to catch the attention of investors as well. The stock has seen rising dividends for the past 18 years, a period which has encompassed multiple recessionary periods. The rate of dividend growth in the past decade has averaged under 3%, so it’s not a hugely impressive dividend growth stock. However, the shares yield a massive 7.2% today, which is the highest yield Verizon has ever had. That puts it in rarified company from a yield perspective.
Finally, we expect the payout ratio to be just 50% of earnings for this year, meaning the dividend is very safe, particularly given Verizon’s predictable earnings. That also means there’s ample room to continue raising the payout for years to come.
A History of Growth
Our second stock is Enbridge (ENB) , an energy infrastructure company that is based in Canada. Enbridge is a diversified energy company that operates five segments: Liquids Pipelines, Gas Transmission and Midstream, Gas Distribution and Storage, Renewable Power Generation, and Energy Services. Through these segments the company offers a wide variety of services, including pipelines and terminals for crude oil and other hydrocarbon liquids such as natural gas, storage facilities, and renewable power generation.
The company was founded in 1949, generates about $39 billion in annual revenue, and trades with a market cap of $77 billion.
Enbridge, like Verizon, has a fairly strong history of growth. Enbridge has grown its cash flow per share by more than 6% annually in the past five years. We see 4% going forward, driven by big investments the company has made in new projects in recent years.
We see fair value for the stock at 11 times earnings, but the shares trade today at just 9.4 times earnings. Therefore, in addition to the 4% growth rate, we expect a 3%+ tailwind to shareholder returns from a rising valuation over time.
Enbridge has raised its payout for an impressive 27 consecutive years, which is a rarity in the highly cyclical energy sector. In addition, over the past decade the company’s dividend has averaged 11% annual growth, so Enbridge is very strong on the dividend growth front. This has helped drive the yield to 6.9% today, which is elevated for Enbridge on a historical basis.
The payout ratio for this year should be about two-thirds of cash flow, so like Verizon, we see Enbridge’s nearly-7% yield as quite safe, and with further room to grow.
Fit for a ‘King’
Our final stock is Altria Group (MO) , which manufactures and sells smokeable and oral tobacco products in the U.S. The company makes and distributes cigarettes under the ubiquitous Marlboro brand, cigars and pipe tobacco under the Black & Mild brand, and moist smokeless tobacco under the brands of Copenhagen, Skoal, Red Seal, and Husky. Altria also has strategic investments in Cronos, a cannabis brand, and Juul, a vaping brand.
Altria was founded in 1822, produces about $21 billion in annual revenue, and trades today with a market cap of $82 billion.
Altria’s EPS have grown at about 7.5% annually in the past five years, despite the fact that the market for smokers in the U.S. continues to decline. The company has been able to push through many pricing increases to help offset waning demand, and that has helped boost profitability. We see more modest 1.4% annual growth going forward as we think revenue increases will be more difficult to come by in the coming years.
Fair value for Altria is 11 times earnings, and today, the shares go for 9.5 times this year’s estimate. That leaves the potential for a ~3% tailwind to shareholder returns in the years to come from a rising earnings multiple.
Altria’s dividend history is nothing short of exemplary, with the company having raised its payout for 52 consecutive years. That makes Altria a member of the elite Dividend Kings, a group of stocks that have raised their dividends for at least half a century consecutively. In addition to that, Altria has boosted its dividend over the past decade by nearly 8% annually. That has helped drive the yield to its current value of 8.1%, which is more than 5x that of the S&P 500.
The stock’s payout ratio is 74% for this year, so it still has room for many years of growth given the company’s highly predictable earnings.
While not all high-dividend stocks are worth owning, there are some that are offering shareholders truly outstanding value today. We like Verizon, Enbridge, and Altria for their combination of dividend longevity, safe payout ratios, low valuations, and very high dividend yields. Given these factors, we rate all three a buy today for long-term investors.