Covid-19 has changed the game for UK dividend investors. Over the last few months, over 40 companies in the FTSE 100 index, including the likes of BT Group, Aviva, and Lloyds Bank, have suspended or cancelled their dividend payouts. Meanwhile, plenty of other FTSE companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, have reduced their payouts significantly.
There are a number of high-quality FTSE 100 companies, however, that haven’t cut their dividends in the recent crisis. These are the companies I would focus on if I was building an income portfolio today. Here’s a look at two such companies.
A top FTSE 100 dividend stock
The first FTSE 100 dividend stock I want to highlight is Unilever (LSE: ULVR). It’s a leading consumer goods company that owns a world class portfolio of trusted brands including Dove, Domestos, and Ben & Jerry’s.
The reason I like Unilever is that demand for its products tends to be steady throughout the economic cycle. Even in a recession, people still buy soap, deodorant, and household cleaners. This has implications for the dividend. Because Unilever’s earnings and cash flows are relatively consistent, the company is able to pay out a steady stream of dividends to its investors.
Unilever has a fantastic dividend track record. It hasn’t cut its payout for at least 30 years. This puts it in an elite group of dividend payers. Recently, the company advised that it was maintaining its quarterly dividend at €0.4104 per share. That equates to an annualised yield of about 3.3% at the current share price.
Unilever is not the cheapest stock in the FTSE 100. Currently, the forward-looking P/E ratio is about 21. I think that’s a price worth paying, however. This is a high-quality dividend payer with an excellent track record.
Well positioned in a post-Covid-19 world
Another FTSE 100 consumer goods company I’d buy for income is Reckitt Benckiser (LSE: RB). It’s a global leader in health and hygiene and sports a top portfolio of brands including Nurofen, Mucinex, Dettol, and Lysol.
I think RB shares look particularly attractive in the current environment. In a post-Covid-19 world, I see a lot more focus on hygiene. Reckitt’s products, such as Dettol antibacterial wipes and Lysol disinfectant spray, should be in high demand for a while. Recent first-quarter results were certainly encouraging. For the period, hygiene sales were up 12.8%. I’ll point out that I’m not the only one who is bullish on Reckitt. In recent months, a number of top-level insiders have been loading up on RB shares, which suggests they are confident about the future too.
Like Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser has an excellent dividend track record. Since the FTSE 100 company was formed in 1999, it has never cut its dividend. In that time, it has also lifted its payout from 24p per share to 175p per share. That kind of consistent track record and long-term growth in the payout is exactly what you want to see as a dividend investor.
RB shares currently trade on a forward-looking P/E ratio of 23.6 and offer a prospective yield of just under 2.5%. A little expensive? Sure. But totally worth the price tag, in my view.
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With global markets in turmoil as the coronavirus pandemic tightens its grip, turning to shares to generate income isn’t as simple as it used to be…
As the realities of ‘life under lockdown’ begin to bite, many of the stock market’s ‘go-to’ high-yielding companies have either taken an axe to their dividend pay-outs… or worse, opted to suspended them altogether – for the near-term at least.
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Edward Sheldon owns shares in Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser, Royal Dutch Shell, and Lloyds Bank. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Unilever. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Lloyds Banking Group. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.