My 3 Favorite Hold Forever Dividend Stocks Today

This is a guest contribution by Ben Reynolds at Sure Dividend.  Sure Dividend helps individual investors build high quality dividend growth stock portfolios for the long run.

There are hidden costs involved with selling stocks.  Brokerage fees, slippage, and capital gains taxes add up quickly.

When you invest for the long-run frictional costs are minimized.  More importantly, you move from a trader to an investor.

Buying stock is not like buying a lottery ticket.  When you purchase stock, you are purchasing a small fraction of a real world business.  The best way to profit from a business’ growth is to invest in it for the long-run.

Warren Buffett is an avid long-term investors.  That’s because it allows him to take advantage of the wealth compounding benefits of the greatest publicly traded businesses.

“When we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever.” ­- Warren Buffett

This article takes a look at 3 of my favorite dividend growth stocks for long-term investors, that are buys today (despite the generally overvalued market).

Hold Forever Stock #1:  Nike

Nike (NKE) is the largest athletic apparel company in the world.  The company was founded by Phil Knight in 1964 and is now worth $87 billion.

Nike’s long-term success is nothing short of phenomenal.  The company has continued to grow quickly over the last decade.  Earnings-per-share have grown at a compound rate of 12.5% a year over the last decade.

Moreover, the company has increased its dividend payments for 15 consecutive years.  Dividends have grown faster than earnings-per-share over the last decade, growing at 16% a year over this time period.

While Nike’s dividends have grown quickly, the company has a dividend yield of just 1.4%.  This is due to the company’s low payout ratio of 27%.  Make no mistake – despite its 15 years of dividend growth and 50+ year corporate history, Nike is still in growth mode.

Nike’s earnings-per-share grew 16% in fiscal 2017, with 22% earnings-per-share growth in the 4th quarter versus the same quarter a year ago.  The company’s strong growth comes from a mix of:

  • Rising global sales
  • Reduced expenses
  • Reduced share count

Nike is a forever stock because of its strong competitive advantage.  Nike’s brand is a result of intelligently leveraging professional sports stars.  The company’s brand is estimated to be worth $30 billion, making it the 16th most valuable brand in the world.

When you think Nike, the first thing that comes to mind is high end shoes.  One would guess that the company would perform poorly during recessions.  Amazingly that is not the case.  Nike managed to grow its earnings-per-share each year through the Great Recession of 2007 through 2009.  This is a testament to the company’s brand strength.

Nike’s competitive advantage is likely to last far into the future.  The company’s core product – athletic apparel and shoes – is likely to exist indefinitely.  Additionally, consumers are likely to continue to be influenced by sports stars indefinitely.  This gives Nike a stable competitive advantage that should appeal to long-term investors.

Cardinal Health

Cardinal Health (CAH) is one of the ‘big three’ drug distribution companies in the United States, along with McKesson (MKC) and AmerisourceBergen (ABC).  Cardinal Health serves over 25,000 U.S. pharmacies and more than 70% of U.S. hospitals.  In addition, the company is a top 10 medical distributor in China.

The drug distribution industry is price sensitive.  The lower the price, the better.  As one of the 3 large drug distributors in the United States, Cardinal Health has a competitive advantage over its smaller peers.  Simply put, the company’s larger distribution network allows it to operate more efficiently.  Razor thin margins in the drug distribution industry help keep competitors out; Cardinal Health has a net profit margin of just 1.0%.

Cardinal Health is a buy and hold forever stock because it operates in an industry that is likely to be around far into the future.  Pharmaceutical products and medical supplies will always need distribution.  The pharmaceutical industry as a whole and Cardinal Health in particular will benefit from 3 long-term growth drivers:

  • Rising income in emerging markets means more people can afford pharmaceuticals
  • Aging populations in the developed word means more pharmaceuticals per person
  • Rising global populations means more pharmaceuticals in general

Cardinal Health has an excellent long-term track record.  The company is a Dividend Aristocrat; it has paid increasing dividends for 25+ consecutive years.  Moreover, the company has compounded its dividend payments at a robust 21% a year over the last decade.  Cardinal Health’s dividend growth rate will not continue to rise at this rate, but 10% annualized growth is still likely over long periods of time.

Cardinal Health stock is currently trading for a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 12.6.  The company’s historical 10 year average price-to-earnings ratio is 16.8.  Cardinal Health looks undervalued at current prices – now is a good time to buy into this high quality business.

Target

Target (TGT) is one of the largest discount retailers in the United States.  Like Cardinal Health, Target is a Dividend Aristocrat thanks to its 46 consecutive years of dividend increases.  This blue chip company was founded in 1902 and today operates over 1,800 stores.

There’s no question that Target stock is particularly cheap today.  The company is trading for a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 13.0.  Target’s historical average price-to-earnings ratio over the last decade is 15.3.  Target stock has ~20% upside from current prices.

Target’s favorable valuation makes it a buy today, but the company’s future growth prospects are why investors should hold for the long run.

Target has a long history of success.  The company is cheap today because of fears surrounding ‘the end of retail’.

“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful.” – Warren Buffett

Target’s earnings have fallen slightly as the company retools itself for future growth.  The company has compounded its online sales at 28% a year since the 2nd quarter of 2014.  Continued 20%+ growth in online sales is likely.

The appeal of Target is that it is a highly profitable discount retailer with great brand value and a large footprint.  The company’s brand is estimated to be worth $7 billion alone.  This gives Target a competitive advantage.  Target will likely see earnings growth resume after 1 to 2 years of resetting its operations to deliver a true ‘omni channel’ experience.

The company’s mix of a high 4.3% dividend yield, an attractive valuation, solid brand, and scale make Target a compelling buy and hold investment.

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