Buying and holding great dividend stocks is arguably the best way to predictably create wealth. But it's not always easy to find the best dividends the market has to offer.
So to help point you in the right direction, we asked three top Motley Fool contributors to each discuss one of their favorite dividend stocks with annual yields of at least 2%. Read on to learn why they like Retail Opportunity Investments (NASDAQ: ROIC) , Philip Morris (NYSE: PM) , and Proctor & Gamble (NYSE: PG).
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Take advantage of this REIT's acquisitive pause
Steve Symington (Retail Opportunity Investments ) : Given the ongoing disruption of brick-and-mortar retail by e-commerce, it might seem odd to recommend a shopping-center REIT like Retail Opportunity Investments. But the company employs a proven strategy for consistently creating shareholder value by looking for attractive off-market acquisitions of necessity-based shopping centers -- which typically means they're anchored by a grocery chain, helping to drive traffic to other tenants and keep occupancy rates high -- and then revitalizing those properties to help grow base rents.
To be clear, the past couple of quarters have been quiet on the acquisitions front -- a trend that CEO Stuart Tanz explained in the most recent quarterly report is due to unfavorable market conditions and "considerable hesitation among buyers and sellers." But Tanz also teased that Retail Opportunity Investments is finally starting to see more favorable conditions, noting that the REIT is now looking closely at "several interesting opportunities."
In the meantime, shares have largely languished, falling almost 10% over the past year. But for investors willing to buy now and collect Retail Opportunity Investments' healthy dividend, which yields 4.3% annually as of this writing, I think this is a great time to pick up some shares for the long haul.
A smoking hot high-yield dividend to consider buying
Sean Williams (Philip Morris International) :If you're looking for a top dividend stock with an above-average yield that's trading for a significant discount, might I suggest digging into international tobacco giant Philip Morris International and its 5.5% dividend yield .
There's no sugarcoating that Philip Morris, or tobacco stocks in general, have had a bad go of things recently. Health regulatory agencies in a number of developed countries are attempting to wage war on the tobacco industry, and that's resulted in a precipitous decline in cigarette sales volumes for the biggest players. In Philip Morris' second quarter, it wound up shipping 190.7 billion cigarette units, which was down 2.8 billion from the prior-year quarter.
Making matters a bit more worrisome, the company's heated tobacco alternative, known as IQOS, looks to have plateaued in Japan, which was something of a test market for the product.
Yet in spite of these concerns, this top dividend stock has plenty of factors still working in its favor. Chief among these catalysts is Philip Morris' geographic diversity. Philip Morris doesn't sell tobacco products in the U.S., meaning it avoids what's becoming one of the most anti-tobacco markets in the world. While it still faces challenges in other developed markets, such as Australia, it has dozens of emerging markets to turn to, such as China and India, where a burgeoning middle class is looking for simple luxuries, including the ability to use tobacco products.
Speaking of tobacco, Philip Morris is also able to take advantage of exceptional pricing power . Since the nicotine found in tobacco is addictive, tobacco companies have discovered over many decades that they can pass along hefty price increases to consumers and, even with some consumers choosing to quit, can still grow their top line. As noted, despite a 2.8 billion-unit drop in cigarette shipment volume in the first quarter, Philip Morris was able to grow sales by 8.3% on a constant currency basis.
Lastly, don't count out IQOS just yet. Even though sales of the heated-tobacco device may have plateaued in Japan, the company still has dozens of countries where it could aid its top- and bottom-line results.
With Wall Street anticipating annual earnings-per-share growth of roughly 10% through 2021, I'd suggest that now is the time to consider this top dividend stock for your portfolio.
An icon on sale
Reuben Gregg Brewer (The Procter & Gamble Company) : Customer tastes are in a constant state of flux, always shifting with technology and the perception of what is most important. Giant consumer-products specialist Procter & Gamble has been dealing with this for more than 100 years. Sometimes the company ends up a little out of step. But throughout its history Procter & Gamble has shown an ability to adjust -- eventually.
PG Dividend Yield (TTM) data by YCharts
P&G is out of step today, and investors have pushed the shares lower and the yield up to 3.6%. That's toward the high end of the stock's historical yield range and higher than it was during the deep 2007-to-2009 recession. Procter & Gamble has been hard at work, refocusing on its highest margin and best positioned products , introducing on-target new products (natural fiber diapers), and aggressively taking on new competitors (cutting prices in its Gillette business to fend off online competition). If these efforts don't all pan out, P&G will try something else.
There's little question about P&G's survival as a company. With debt at just 30% of the capital structure and revenue covering interest expense by more than 50 times, the consumer-products giant has plenty of leeway to deal with industry headwinds and keep paying investors. Yes, there is uncertainty here because of changing customer tastes. But the risk seems relatively small if you're willing to buck the crowd and hold for the long term. History suggests that Procter & Gamble will adjust while you sit back and collect a fat dividend yield.
The bottom line
There's no way to guarantee that these three businesses will go on to deliver satisfactory returns for investors who buy today. But between Retail Opportunity Investments' impending ramp-up in acquisitions; Philip Morris' geographic diversity, pricing power, and potential for IQOS; and Procter & Gamble's proven history and healthy balance sheet, we think chances are high that they'll do exactly that. And we think anyone looking to put their money to work today could do well to invest accordingly.
10 stocks we like better than Procter & Gamble
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Reuben Gregg Brewer owns shares of Procter & Gamble. Sean Williams has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Steve Symington owns shares of Retail Opportunity Investments. The Motley Fool recommends Retail Opportunity Investments. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .