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The Reign of the Top Dividend Kings for March 2024

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Wall Street’s allure lies in dividend stocks. Research unequivocally demonstrates their superior performance compared to non-dividend counterparts. Dividend players not only generate formidable returns but also do so with a reduced level of risk.

Dividends are the bedrock of the equity market’s enduring prosperity. As per Ned Davis Research, income-yielding equities accounted for 41% of the market’s cumulative returns from 1930 until 2022. Furthermore, studies reveal there has not been a single decade where they have failed to deliver gains.

Within the dividend-paying cohort, Dividend Kings stand unrivaled. These companies not only distribute regular dividends but also enhance their payouts every year for half a century or more.

Their majesty underscores robust profitability and adept management, reflecting a commitment to sharing their prosperity with investors – an enviable trait for any stock.

Let’s delve into the top three highest-yielding Dividend Kings, boasting an average annual yield of 8.5% – a staggering six-fold leap over the S&P 500’s modest 1.4% average yield. But can their payouts weather the storm? Let’s explore!

Altria (MO) – Inhaling Success

Altria Group, Inc. (MO) logo of US producer and marketer of tobacco and cigarettes is seen on a mobile phone screen.

Source: viewimage / Shutterstock.com

Altria, the tobacco juggernaut (NYSE: MO), stands tall as the proprietor of the iconic cigarette brand Marlboro, reigning as the best-selling cigarette in the U.S. for over 45 years. Recently, Altria has pivoted towards reduced-risk products, acquiring the electronic cigarette manufacturer NJOY, enhancing its nationwide presence.

The e-cigarette segment harbors competitive edges that could facilitate market expansion. Notably, NJOY stands as the sole e-vapor producer authorized by the FDA for a pod-based e-vapor product. However, it lags behind British American Tobacco’s Vuse brand and Juul Labs in market dominance.

Inaugurating dividend payments in 1928, Altria has incessantly hiked its dividends since 1969, culminating in a streak of 55 consecutive years of increases. Presently yielding 9.2%, the company boasts a commendable 10-year compounded growth rate of 7% annually. Such growth parallels its free cash flow (FCF), cementing the security of MO stock’s dividend payouts.

Universal (UVV) – Spreading Global Seeds

image of hands holding handful of processed tobacco

Source: Shutterstock

Universal (NYSE: UVV), the globe’s premier tobacco leaf supplier, operates across 30 countries worldwide. Despite dwindling cigarette consumption in the U.S., only 5% of global cigarette consumption occurs in the States, fostering significant demand for Universal’s offerings.

Counting the world’s tobacco giants, including Altria, Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM), British American Tobacco, and China Tobacco International among its clientele, Universal exclusively deals in tobacco leaf provision, abstaining from manufacturing any tobacco products.

Established in 1918, Universal yields a 6.4% dividend annually, having elevated its payouts for 53 successive years. Diversifying beyond tobacco, the company initiated a burgeoning food ingredients segment several years back. On solid footing, UVV’s dividend remains steadfast.

Leggett & Platt (LEG) – Upholding the Throne

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