Best Dividend Stocks for Dependable Dividend Growth

The highest yield isn't everything when it comes to finding the best dividend stocks. Income investors know there's no substitute for regular dividend increases over the long haul.

A gold crown sitting on stacks of hundred dollar bills best dividend stocks
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Buy-and-hold dividend growth investors know something about the best dividend stocks that less experienced yield-hunters don't: it pays to be patient when you're investing for income.

Shares in companies that raise their payouts like clockwork decade after decade can produce superior total returns (price change plus dividends) over the long run, even if they sport apparently ho-hum yields to begin with.

That's partly because regular dividend increases lift the yield on an investor's original cost basis. Stick around long enough, and the modest yield you received on your initial investment can hit double digits one day.

Companies with long histories of annual dividend growth also offer some peace of mind. After all, any company that manages to raise its dividend year after year – through recession, war, market crashes and more – is demonstrating both its financial resilience and its commitment to returning cash to shareholders.

"Investing in companies with sustainable dividend growth can help augment total returns and reduce volatility while providing a growing income stream," write David Park and David Chalupnik, portfolio manager and head of U.S. active equities portfolio management, respectively, at Nuveen.

Put another way, dividend growers not only go along for the ride in bull markets, but they also tend to hold up better in market drawdowns.

Best dividend stocks for dependable dividend growth

best dividend stocks

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If you're looking to add dependable dividend growers to your portfolio, you can start by checking out the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats.

The S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats are an index of 67 companies in the S&P 500 index that have raised their payouts annually for at least 25 consecutive years. 

Although they're scattered across pretty much every sector of the market, they do all share one thing in common: a commitment to reliable and long-term dividend growth.

There were two changes to the Dividend Aristocrats announced in January 2024. Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) was removed from the index after the pharmacy chain slashed its dividend by almost half in late 2023. WBA had raised its dividend annually without fail for almost a half-century before the cut. 

At the same time, industrials supplier Fastenal (FAST) was added to the Dividend Aristocrats in recognition of its quarter-century streak of annual dividend hikes.

Other changes to the Dividend Aristocrats over the past year include the removal of VF Corp. (VFC) and the addition of Kenvue (KVUE), which was spun off from fellow Aristocrat Johnson & Johnson (JNJ). 

The Dividend Aristocrats 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 dividend battleships to your long-term portfolio.

Alternatively, investors can gain exposure to every stock in the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats index via the ProShares S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats ETF (NOBL). The exchanged-traded fund with $11.5 billion in assets under management has an expense ratio of 0.35%. 

Have a look at all the stocks in S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats index in the table below – and be sure to keep scrolling for more information on each and every one of these dividend stalwarts. 

Disclaimer

Companies are listed by the number of years they've consecutively raised their dividends, from lowest to highest. The index of Dividend Aristocrats is maintained by S&P Dow Jones Indices. Dividend history based on company information and S&P data. Dividend-growth streaks include the current year if the company announced a dividend hike as of February 19, 2024.