retirement

5 Dividend Aristocrat Stocks With Long Payout Histories

These reliable companies have raised their dividends every year for at least six straight decades.

Long-term income investors know that yield isn't everything when it comes to dividend stocks. Steadily rising payouts pay off down the road, too. Not only do rising dividends lift the yield on an investor's original cost basis, they're indicative of a firm's ability to withstand the economy's—and the market's—inevitable ups and downs.

The five companies below have increased their dividends annually for 60 years or more. That makes them elite members of the Dividend Aristocrats, which are companies in Standard & Poor's 500-stock index that have raised payouts for at least 25 consecutive years. (Data are as of February 8.)

The Aristocrats, which now total 57 companies, include household names whose size, longevity and familiarity provide comfort amid market uncertainty. They have been among the best dividend stocks for income growth over the past few decades, and they're a great place to start if you're looking to add new dividend holdings to your portfolio.

Industrial conglomerate 3M (symbol MMM; recent price, $200; dividend yield, 2.9%), which makes everything from adhesives to electric circuits, kicked off the new year on a down note. The Dow component lowered its 2019 profit outlook, in part because of sluggish demand from China.

Whatever the short-term hiccups in 3M's share price, investors can bank on the conglomerate's steady payouts over the long haul. 3M's dividend has improved annually for 60 consecutive years, and the payout dates back a century.

Dover (DOV, $87, 2.2%) has its hands in all sorts of industries, from Dover-branded pumps, lifts and even productivity tools for the energy business, to Anthony-branded commercial refrigerator and freezer doors.

Dividend growth has been a priority for Dover, which at 63 consecutive years of annual distribution hikes boasts the third-longest such streak among publicly traded companies. Dover last raised its dividend in August 2018, when it upped the quarterly payout by 2% to 48 cents a share.

Emerson Electric (EMR, $67, 2.9%) makes a wide variety of industrial products, ranging from control valves to electrical fittings. The downturn in oil prices weighed on Emerson for a couple years as energy companies continued to cut spending. Analysts now say it's well-positioned to take advantage of the recovery in the energy sector. Earnings are forecast to increase at an average annual rate of 9% for the next five years.

Emerson has paid dividends since 1956 and has boosted its annual payout for 62 consecutive years, including its last increase in November 2018. Last year, the company returned $2.2 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases.

Automotive and industrial replacement parts maker Genuine Parts (GPC, $103, 2.8%) is best-known for the Napa brand, though it also operates under AutoTodo in Mexico and UAP in Canada. Since its founding in 1928, it has pursued a strategy of acquisitions to fuel growth. At the end of 2017, it bought Alliance Automotive Group, one of the largest distribution companies in Europe, for $2 billion.

A longtime dividend machine, GPC has hiked its payout annually for 62 years. That includes a 7% improvement to its distribution in February 2018.

With major brands such as Pampers diapers and Gillette razors, Procter & Gamble (PG, $98, 2.9%) is among the world's largest consumer products companies. Although the economy ebbs and flows, demand for products such as toothpaste and soap tends to remain stable. That hardly makes P&G completely recession-proof, but it has helped fuel reliable dividend payments for more than a century. The Dow component has paid shareholders a dividend since 1890, and it has raised its dividend annually for 62 years in a row. P&G last increased its payout in April 2018.

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