2021's Dividend Aristocrats List: All 65 Stocks

·8 min read

Income investors often turn to bonds for yield, but with interest rates so low for so long, the stock market can sometimes be a better option, with many stocks offering better payoffs than a 10-year Treasury, which pays less than 2%.

But dividend yields themselves don't mean much if they aren't sustainable. That's why being a member of the dividend aristocrats is such a distinction: There are 65 companies (also members of the S&P 500), which haven't just paid dividends for at least 25 consecutive years -- they've raised their dividends for a minimum of 25 straight years as well.

Just the two requirements that a stock must be a member of the vaunted S&P 500 and that it has a record of 25 years' worth of dividend increases alone are stringent enough screens to guarantee investors are looking at a list of strong, reliable companies.

But the requirements go even further, with the following attributes also mandatory for membership on the dividend aristocrats list:

-- Companies must be worth at least $3 billion at the time of each quarterly rebalancing.

-- Average daily volume of at least $5 million in transactions for every trailing three-month period at every quarterly rebalancing date.

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The rebalancing of the index happens every January, April, July and October. New entrants are added and old ones removed once a year.

It's important to keep in mind the goal of the index when looking it over: It's constructed to be a well-diversified, lower-volatility group of stocks boasting both dividend income and capital appreciation potential.

S&P Dow Jones Indices, the index creator, notes that almost one-third of total equity market returns since 1926 have come from dividends, and that its selection criteria and diversification requirements make the dividend aristocrat stocks uniquely positioned to do well as a group.

[See: 7 High-Paying Dividend Stocks in the S&P 500.]

On the issue of diversification, the index has a minimum floor on membership at 40 different companies -- a level in no danger of being breached anytime soon given the current group consists of 65 stocks.

The index also caps the weighting of any single sector at 30%, limiting the impact of any single sector's hit on the broader portfolio.

To that end, while investors could certainly try to adopt their own " smart beta" strategies to eliminate the less alluring members of the group, it's a much lower-effort endeavor to simply buy the entire group as a whole, which is possible due to the existence of a dividend aristocrats exchange-traded fund that tracks the portfolio.

The ProShares S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats ETF ( NOBL) is the premier exchange-traded fund in the space, with more than $8 billion in assets under management and a reasonable expense ratio of 0.35%.

Here's a full list of all 65 S&P 500 dividend aristocrats and how long each has been increasing its payouts to shareholders. The list is current through May 2021.

(Read more after the table for info on recent additions and subtractions.)

Company

Sector

Years of Dividend Growth

Dividend Yield (as of May 7)

3M (ticker: MMM)

Industrials

63

2.92%

A.O. Smith (AOS)

Industrials

28

1.46%

Abbott Laboratories (ABT)

Health care

49

1.52%

AbbVie (ABBV)

Health care

49

4.48%

Aflac (AFL)

Financials

38

2.35%

Air Products and Chemicals (APD)

Materials

39

2.04%

Albemarle Corp. (ALB)

Materials

27

1.02%

Amcor PLC (AMCR)

Materials

38

3.76%

Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM)

Consumer staples

47

2.22%

AT&T (T)

Communications services

36

6.49%

Atmos Energy Corp. (ATO)

Utilities

34

2.44%

Automatic Data Processing (ADP)

Information technology

46

1.9%

Becton, Dickinson & Co. (BDX)

Health care

49

1.38%

Brown-Forman Corp. (BF-B)

Consumer staples

37

0.93%

Cardinal Health (CAH)

Health care

34

3.47%

Caterpillar (CAT)

Industrials

27

1.74%

Chevron (CVX)

Energy

34

4.92%

Chubb (CB)

Financials

28

1.87%

Cincinnati Financial (CINF)

Financials

61

2.1%

Cintas Corp. (CTAS)

Industrials

37

0.86%

The Clorox Co. (CLX)

Consumer staples

45

2.41%

The Coca-Cola Co. (KO)

Consumer staples

59

3.11%

Colgate-Palmolive (CL)

Consumer staples

59

2.19%

Consolidated Edison (ED)

Utilities

47

3.98%

Dover (DOV)

Industrials

65

1.3%

Ecolab (ECL)

Materials

29

0.84%

Emerson Electric (EMR)

Industrials

59

2.16%

Essex Property Trust Inc. (ESS)

Real estate

27

2.93%

Expeditors International of Washington Inc. (EXPD)

Industrials

27

1%

ExxonMobil (XOM)

Energy

37

5.71%

Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRT)

Real estate

49

3.72%

Franklin Resources (BEN)

Financials

40

3.3%

General Dynamics (GD)

Industrials

30

2.45%

Genuine Parts (GPC)

Consumer discretionary

65

2.46%

Hormel Foods (HRL)

Consumer staples

55

2.06%

Illinois Tool Works (ITW)

Industrials

50

1.92%

International Business Machines (IBM)

Information technology

25

4.52%

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)

Health care

59

2.54%

Kimberly Clark (KMB)

Consumer staples

48

3.35%

Leggett & Platt (LEG)

Consumer discretionary

50

2.95%

Linde (LIN)

Materials

28

1.43%

Lowe's (LOW)

Consumer discretionary

47

1.17%

McCormick & Co. (MKC)

Consumer staples

35

1.51%

McDonald's (MCD)

Consumer discretionary

44

2.2%

Medtronic (MDT)

Health care

43

1.82%

NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE)

Utilities

25

2.08%

Nucor (NUE)

Materials

48

1.69%

Pentair (PNR)

Industrials

44

1.19%

People's United Financial (PBCT)

Financials

28

3.88%

PepsiCo (PEP)

Consumer staples

48

2.95%

PPG Industries (PPG)

Materials

49

1.2%

Procter & Gamble (PG)

Consumer staples

65

2.57%

Realty Income Corp. (O)

Real estate

26

4.17%

Roper Technologies (ROP)

Industrials

28

0.5%

S&P Global (SPGI)

Financials

48

0.79%

Sherwin-Williams (SHW)

Materials

42

0.77%

Stanley Black & Decker (SWK)

Industrials

53

1.29%

Sysco (SYY)

Consumer staples

41

2.17%

T. Rowe Price Group (TROW)

Financials

35

2.29%

Target (TGT)

Consumer discretionary

49

1.28%

VF Corp. (VFC)

Consumer discretionary

49

2.21%

W.W. Grainger (GWW)

Industrials

50

1.41%

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA)

Consumer staples

45

3.43%

Walmart (WMT)

Consumer staples

48

1.56%

West Pharmaceutical Services Inc. (WST)

Health care

28

0.21%

Recent Additions and Subtractions

Although the total number of dividend aristocrats remained stagnant at 65 between 2020 and 2021, there are actually three new members of the index over the last year or so, and three stocks that were removed.

Here are the three newest dividend aristocrats:

International Business Machines. The old-school tech giant clocked its 25th straight year of dividend increases last year, making Big Blue a proud new member of the elite club.

Although things have been slowly improving for IBM shareholders over the last year, some critics actually fault IBM for focusing more on dividends than long-term, bold investments in innovation. IBM has been an extremely underwhelming performer for the last decade-plus, with shares having gained no ground since 2010.

NextEra Energy. Electric utility NextEra Energy is also a new member of the list as of 2021, having clocked 25 straight years of dividend growth. Unlike IBM, this has come alongside impressive long-term share performance, and the company has some of the most impressive clean energy operations among large U.S. companies, known for its growing focus on wind and solar.

West Pharmaceutical Services. Although this medical supplies company has actually clocked 28 straight years of dividend growth, WST is new to the S&P dividend aristocrats merely because it only joined the S&P 500 in 2020.

[See: Best Dividend Stocks to Buy This Month.]

That tends to happen when you grow as quickly as West Pharmaceutical Services. As recently as 2012, shares were trading for less than $20; the stock recently hit all-time highs around $335.

And, because all things must come to an end, here are the three stocks making their way out of the index:

Carrier Global (CARR). It's no coincidence that these three particular companies just lost their status as dividend aristocrats: they're all the result of a 2020 merger between United Technologies and Raytheon that created the newly formed aerospace and defense giant Raytheon Technologies.

Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration company Carrier Global was spun off from United Technologies in preparation for the merger and began trading as a stand-alone stock in 2020.

Otis Worldwide (OTIS). Elevator and escalator giant Otis was in an identical situation last year, spinning off into its own corporate entity to help make the Raytheon-United Technologies merger more amenable to regulators.

Although the new company still pays a dividend, it's no dividend aristocrat.

Raytheon Technologies (RTX). The newly formed defense and aerospace giant Raytheon Technologies will enjoy other benefits from its business combination in the form of increased market share and will make the segment more competitive with the likes of Boeing ( BA) in the commercial aerospace field. Alas, RTX still pays a dividend and may remain a sound investment, but it's no longer a dividend aristocrat.

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