A FTSE 100 company can be called a dividend aristocrat when it does two things:
- Consistently pays a dividend to its shareholders
- Annually increases the size of the payout
There is no requirement for high yields. I assume the market is forward-looking. Investors might have driven a stock price down because they see trouble is on the horizon for the company. But that will also drive the trailing dividend yield higher. Thus, I could buy a stock just for its high yield and walk straight into a dividend cut.
The yields on my three FTSE 100 dividend aristocrat picks might seem uninspiring. But bear in mind that I am looking for companies to buy and hold in my Stocks and Shares ISA for years. I am looking for a great track record to give me confidence that dividends will be consistent and grow over time.
FTSE 100 dividend aristocrats
The first of my picks is the industrial engineering company Spirax-Sarco (LSE: SPX). It has increased its dividend per share (DPS) every year over the last decade. Over the last five fiscal years, payouts to Spirax shareholders have increased by 12% per year.
Spirax’s revenues and earnings have grown solidly over the last decade, driving dividends steadily higher. The company’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) — DPS divided by earnings per share (EPS) — has remained fairly stable at around 45% over the last half-decade. That speaks to a consistent dividend policy designed to pay out what the company can afford. This is all comforting. It suggests that if the company continues to perform as it has, I should see bigger cash flows into my ISA over time if I buy its shares now.
Diageo is another FTSE 100 dividend aristocrat with solid revenue and earnings growth and a consistently increasing dividend over the last decade. Aside from a very high reading in 2020, the DPR has remained at around 60% over the last five years. The company, which produces alcoholic beverages known the world over, like Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff, has increased its DPS by 4% annually on average over the last five years.
Finally, I like the look of Relx. This provider of research journals, databases, business intelligence, analytics services, and exhibitions has consistently paid a dividend to its shareholders for decades and increased it yearly over the last 10 years. Once again, I see solid revenue and earnings growth and a consistent DPR of about 60%.
Attractive dividend yields
A high dividend yield might not necessarily be attractive. Also, a low yield might not mean an investor like myself should turn away in horror. None of these three stocks has eyewatering yields: Spirax’s yield is 1.3% on a trailing 12-month basis, Relx’s is 2.3%, and Diageo comes in at 2.1%.
But let’s look at DPS instead. Spirax shareholders received a dividend of 136p per share in 2021. If Spirax continues to grow its payments at 12% a year, then after 10 years, the DPS will be 350p, and after 20, 1,088p, which would be a yield of 10% on a 10,620p per share investment in the stock made today. But, as always, there are no guarantees in investing, and I need to be confident that the future of these companies will look like the past before diving in.