If your investment goal is to earn stable dividend income, whether for retirement or simply to add to existing earnings, it’s important to hold stocks in your portfolio that provide consistency in distributing cash. One popular way to achieve this goal is to invest in dividend-growth stocks.
In the current work environment, with many employers phasing out pensions, and the interest rate on safe haven assets, such as bonds, remaining extremely low, this investment strategy has perhaps become even more important. A portfolio of dividend-growth stocks can provide safe retirement income that should keep pace with inflation.
In addition, companies that offer regular dividend hikes generally run mature and stable businesses. Rewarding investors on a sustained basis also tells us a lot about management’s long-term philosophy. These are the companies that care about their reputation and their stakeholders. Plus, they value loyal investors.
Most important, regular hikes in payouts signal that the company is in control of its destiny. It would look very unprofessional and damaging for a company’s management to hike dividends only to cut them back after a few quarters.
Nike’s Dividend Power
One company that ticks all these boxes is the sportswear giant Nike (NYSE:).
Its average dividend growth over the past five years has been more than 10%. With a low payout ratio of just under 30%, along with the stock’s current momentum, the Oregon-based consumer apparel and footwear giant clearly has much more capacity to hike its dividend.
The stock currently pays a dividend of $0.275 per share on a quarterly basis, which at the current share price of $159.52 as of Monday’s close, translates to an annual dividend yield of just under 1%.
That may sound meager to many dividend-conscious investors, but yield percentage doesn’t convey the full story regarding why this is a smart dividend play for buy-and-hold portfolios. That yield obviously doesn’t look attractive when compared to higher-yielding stocks in the market.
But analyzing stocks just based on their yields isn’t a good approach. The best dividend stocks are the ones whose payouts are raised regularly without negative surprises. Nike has hiked its payout for 19 consecutive years, showing the company has cash generating capabilities no matter what stage the economic cycle has been in.
Along with dividend stability, Nike constantly innovates, in order to fuel additional growth across its business lines. During the pandemic, when many top retailers were forced to suspend their dividends, Nike proved that its business could not just survive, but could quickly adapt to new market conditions, for example by pivoting to more robust on-line sales when its global bricks-and-mortar outlets were closed due to lockdowns.
In its latest earnings guidance, Nike predicted that sales this fiscal year will surpass $50 billion for the first time, benefiting from rebounding growth in North America and Europe where sports leagues and other events have resumed.
Due to a considerable improvement in Nike’s margins as it moves its sales to a lower-cost online model, analysts are bullish on this heavyweight’s shares, even after the powerful rally this year.
Oppenheimer, which has a $195 a share price target on Nike, said in a recent note:
“We believe NKE enjoys further room to run. In our view, recent investments are only beginning to pay off and the market is underappreciating the meaningfully enhanced intermediate- to longer-term EPS power of a digitally-driven NKE model.”
For income investors, Nike continues to remain one of the best stocks to buy and hold in a retirement portfolio. With its solid income track record, the company is also in a powerful growth phase which should fuel more gains in the value of its shares.