The Best Dividend Stocks - The Dividend Aristocrats by aihaozhe2

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									As a tool for creating steady passive income, the dividend has stood the test of time.
Studies show that from 1926 to 2004, dividends accounted for 35% of shareholder
returns. However, after adding in the powerful effects of reinvesting the dividends and
compounding, dividends returned over 25 times more than price appreciation.

During the tech bubble/dot.com boom of the late 90's, many investors ignored
dividend paying stocks when looking for the best stocks to buy. However, that's no
longer the case, as now, even many tech companies have begun paying dividends.

In fact, since 2003, CNN reports that "there were over 100 dividend increases and
initiations among tech firms, vs. 4 dividend cuts. Initiating dividend payouts helped
these companies restore investor confidence soon after the Internet bubble burst."

So what makes this group of dividend stocks so special? After all, not every dividend
stock is worth buying, even if it pays a very high dividend. As a matter of fact, an
abnormally high dividend yield can often be a warning signal to income investors to
avoid a stock, even though it may have the highest dividend in its peer group.

What distinguishes the S&P's Dividend Aristocrats group is that these are stocks
which have increased their dividends for the past 25 consecutive years. Remarkably,
some of these companies have increased their payouts for over 50 years running.
These are firms with a long history of dividend growth, to say the least.

Logic would also suggest that any company that can make these consistent increases,
must have a strong business model, with ample cash flow to support their payouts
through both good and bad economic cycles. However, since the economic downturn
of 2008-2009, some of these firms have actually cut their dividends, and will be
eliminated from this group next year.

So, which companies in this group are actually the best stocks to invest in? Should
you just pick out the ones with the highest dividend yield, or is there another way to
find the best dividend stock for you?

First of all, take a look at the industry sectors: Are there attractive stocks in a
beaten-down or currently out of favor sector, such as health care, or utilities? For
example, these 2 sectors are only up 6.5% and 7.1%, respectively, in 2009, whereas
the high flying basic materials sector is currently up over 27%!

As a value investor, you may want to seek out stocks who haven't made huge dramatic
runs up to new highs, but, rather, have been somewhat left behind. The trick to this
strategy is making sure that the stock or its peer group doesn't have serious internal
problems, or external problems. For example, tobacco companies were steady stocks
to invest in for years, until the related health problems emerged.
Always compare a firm to its peers to get a clearer picture of its strengths and
weaknesses. A good place to do this is the clearstation website, which has a feature
called "key ratios", with which you can compare a stock to its industry, sector, and the
S&P simultaneously. You'll see comparisons of many metrics, including: dividend
yield, dividend growth rate, return on assets, return on equity, return on investment,
p/e, price to book, debt to equity, price to cash flow, and more.

								
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