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All Contents © 2020The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Vince Martin
| September 5, 2017
Buy-and-hold investing is trickier than it looks. The increasing pace of technological change means even the most successful, dominant companies have to continually adapt to keep up. Industries like energy, real estate and even consumer products are facing potentially significant long-term changes going forward.
In any era, amassing a collection of retirement stocks simply buying the best companies and holding for years can be riskier than it seems.
General Motors Company (GM) was a classic “widows and orphans” stock … until last decade, when GM wound up going bankrupt. United States Steel Corporation (X) once was a pillar of corporate America. Its stock basically hasn’t moved in a quarter of a century. Polaroid and Eastman Kodak Company (KODK) were once blue-chip stocks. Both went bankrupt as cameras changed from film to digital.
But there still are stocks to buy out there that can last for the rest of your life, while offering dividend income along the way.
Here are 10 such retirement stocks that you can hold on to in perpetuity.
Prices and data are from the original InvestorPlace story published on September 1, 2017. Click on ticker-symbol links in each slide for current prices and more.
Dividend yield: 2%
It might seem strange to open the list with Bank of America Corp. (BAC). After all, we’re less than a decade on from the financial crisis. During that crisis, BofA acquisition Countrywide Financial blew up in spectacular fashion, after pioneering many of the risky tactics that led to the bubble and subsequent bust.
But this is a different BofA.
Net consumer charge-offs hit a decade-long low in the company’s second quarter. Performance on credit metrics continues to improve across the portfolio. The Merrill Lynch unit is posting record margins. Government regulations have been criticized as slowing growth — but they’ve undoubtedly lowered risk as well, even if observers might argue that a better balance is needed.
No less than Warren Buffett is now BofA’s largest shareholder, through his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A, BRK.B). And the Oracle of Omaha is fond of saying that his favorite holding period is “forever.”
That seems likely true for BAC stock as well.
Dividend yield: 2.4%
Change has come to the alcohol industry, with the number of breweries exploding worldwide and new distilleries popping up as well. But the brands owned by Diageo plc (DEO) are well-positioned to adapt to shifting tastes.
Diageo owns classic brands like Johnnie Walker whisky, Tanqueray gin, Smirnoff vodka, and Harp and Guinness beer, among many others. What most have in common is a timeless quality — and worldwide brand recognition. As a result, while beverage giants like The Coca-Cola Co. (KO) and Anheuser Busch InBev NV (BUD) have struggled with sales growth, Diageo grew revenue 4.3% on an organic basis in its fiscal 2017 and expects even better growth going forward.
Yet at a forward price-earnings multiple below 20, and with a dividend yield over 2%, Diageo stock isn’t all that dearly valued. Long-term investors would do well to own DEO — and perhaps use the dividends to buy a bottle or two of fine whisky.
Dividend yield: 2.3%
In this day and age, the U.S. healthcare market, in particular, seems potentially volatile. Concerns about increased spending and political battles over the Affordable Care Act create more questions than answers.
But even with that uncertainty, Medtronic plc. Ordinary Shares (MDT) isn’t going anywhere. The company’s devices are an integral part of modern medicine, ranging from pacemakers to stents to bone grafts to imaging systems.
Even the risks involved in the sector look priced into MDT, which trades at just 16 times fiscal 2018 EPS guidance of roughly $5. A 2.3% dividend yield comes courtesy of a 7% hike earlier this year.
Medtronic’s days of double-digit annual growth may well be behind it. But it’s not finished increasing earnings, or dividends. And MDT stock likely isn’t finished rising, either.
Dividend yield: 2.6%
Utility stocks are among the most common safe, “buy and hold” issues. And NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE) is now the largest electric utility in the U.S. by market capitalization.
That might actually be the only problem with NEE stock. It’s gained 26% year-to-date, and trades just off record highs. But potential valuation concerns aside, NextEra looks like a winner. It serves customer in the southern Florida region, still one of the nation’s fastest-growing areas. A forward P/E multiple of 21 is high for the space, but not outlandishly so. And a 2.6% dividend yield provides income along the way.
Investors looking for value in the space might look for a smaller play like cheaper Dominion Energy Inc (D). But it’s usually worth paying for quality, and NextEra Energy looks like one of the best utility stocks out there.
McCormick & Company, Incorporated (MKC) is another quality company whose valuation might spook some investors. But MKC stock very rarely is offered cheap — and below $100, it still provides plenty of value for long-term investors.
The company’s market leadership in spices and seasonings provides both an impressive moat and protection against economic downturns. MKC stock did dip after the company acquired French’s mustard and Frank’s RedHot sauce from Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC-ADR (RBGLY) this summer, at a price that looked a bit high to many investors. But MKC has recovered those gains — and looks set for more to come.
Top-line growth for McCormick likely isn’t going to be explosive, but it will be steady. The same has been true of MKC stock, which has returned an average of 13% a year over the past decade, including dividends.
With continuous cost cutting initiatives, the contribution from the acquired brands, and organic growth (and growth in organic products), MKC still should be able to provide double-digit annual returns going forward as well.
Dividend yield: 1.6%
Allstate Corp. (ALL) long has used the tagline, “You’re in good hands,” and it’s true for Allstate investors as well. ALL stock has almost quadrupled from late 2011 lows. And there could be more upside to come.
After all, Allstate isn’t particularly expensive, trading at less than 13 times 2018 EPS estimates. Higher interest rates should come — eventually — and boost investment returns, helping future earnings growth as well.
ALL, along with other insurance stocks, has taken a hit recently due to fears of major expenses relating to Hurricane Harvey. But Allstate is diversified enough both geographically and across product lines to manage those costs.
Once those short-term worries subside, ALL should resume its march upward.
Dividend yield: 2%
International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (IFF) is a company most consumers encounter every day without knowing it — and many investors aren’t exactly hip to it, either.
As its name suggests, the company develops flavors & fragrances across 13 categories, including cosmetics, perfumes, beverages and sweet flavors. Sales and earnings have increased consistently — and so has IFF’s share price. At 27 times earnings, IFF does look a bit pricey. But, as with McCormick and other stocks on this list, investors should pay for quality.
IFF’s hidden, but key role, in so many industries gives it a great deal of protection against both competition and macro factors. Acquisitions and a growing cosmetic additive business both provide room for growth. And a 2% dividend, recently raised by 8%, offers income potential as well.
Consumers may not know IFF — but investors should.
Lamb Weston Holdings Inc. (LW) was spun off from Conagra Brands Inc. (CAG) last year. Lamb Weston is the No. 1 potato producer in the United States. In fact, it manufactures the well-known French fries at McDonald’s Corporation (MCD), among other restaurant chains.
Lamb Weston also has a consumer business (including a small segment that manufactures frozen vegetables), while serving restaurants of all sizes. Health concerns might seem a long-term headwind against the business — but growth has been steady for years, and margins continue to improve. LW is targeting international markets for growth, as French fries have much more limited penetration, while international audiences generally are intrigued by Americanized products.
Despite growth and leading market share, LW stock isn’t particularly cheap, trading at about 18 times next year’s earnings. The company did pick up a fair amount of debt in the CAG spinoff. But it’s paying that debt down, which should lower interest expense and boost cash flow going forward.
With many similar stocks trading at much higher multiples, LW seems to have room for upside. And international growth should offset any health-related concerns in the U.S., should they arise. America’s love affair with French fries isn’t going to suddenly end — and that should ensure years of stability for Lamb Weston, at least.
Dividend yield: 1.1%
Investors are commonly advised to diversify their portfolio. Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc. (FBHS) has done just that. The company operates in four segments: Cabinets, Plumbing, Doors, and Security. Among its well-known brands are Moen in plumbing and MasterLock in security.
FBHS is more of a cyclical stock than most on this list, and the company no doubt has benefited from the steady, if slow, housing recovery in the U.S. But the company’s products also generate relatively stable replacement demand, and a 1.1% dividend yield provides modest, but growing, income.
Fortune Brands has been an impressive company since its founding, and a solid stock since its 2011 IPO. There may be a bit more volatility here — but that’s a worthwhile price to pay for long-term investors. There’s enough value in Fortune Brands to ride out any market jitters.
Dividend yield: 2.1%
Republic Services, Inc. (RSG) is a bit smaller and likely a lot less well-known than rival Waste Management, Inc. (WM). But in this case, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Republic Services has outgrown its larger competitor in both sales and earnings over the past five years. RSG stock has modestly outperformed WM over the same period as well. Investors appear to believe that will continue, as Republic Services is valued a bit higher than Waste Management, at least based on forward earnings multiples.
Both RSG and WM are solid long-term plays. Contracted revenue and steady demand should support both companies for years to come. There’s room for further acquisitions in a relatively fragmented space. Republic Services gets the nod here due to slightly better growth and more room for margin improvement.
But investors looking for safe, stable growth can’t go wrong with either RSG or WM.
This article is from Vince Martin of InvestorPlace. As of this writing, he was long MKC.
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