The 5 Best-Performing Dividend Aristocrats of Q1

dividend-aristocratsWe don’t usually associate dividend stocks with growth. And that’s especially true with the “Dividend Aristocrats.”
For those who aren’t familiar, the Dividend Aristocrats are the stocks that have increased their dividend for at least 25 consecutive years. Ninety-two stocks currently make the list.
Such consistent dividend growers are extremely reliable income investments. Any movement in the share price is almost a bonus.
A few Dividend Aristocrats did make big moves in the first quarter. A handful of them outperformed the market by at least tenfold. When you factor in the generous quarterly dividend, that makes for quite a return in just three months.

5 Dividend Aristocrats that returned more than 7% in Q1:

Diebold, Inc. (NYSE: DBD)
Dividend Yield: 2.9%
Q1 Return: 20.8%
Most people might not be familiar with Diebold. But it’s the veritable king of the Dividend Aristocrats, having upped its dividend for 60 years running – more than any other company. In the first quarter, however, the ultimate dividend-grower performed more like a growth stock.
The provider of ATM software and security saw a huge uptick in its share price after its fourth-quarter sales easily beat analyst estimates. The stock rose 11.5% in just two trading sessions in mid-February. The momentum continued into March, when Diebold unveiled the first-ever cardless ATM, which would allow bank customers to withdraw money via a mobile wallet on their smartphones.
Walgreen (NYSE: WAG)
Dividend Yield: 1.9%
Q1 Return: 15%
Shares of the nation’s largest drugstore/convenience store took off in early February after reporting surprisingly strong January sales. The $6.39 billion the company raked in that month was a 3.7% improvement from the previous January, sending the stock up 20% during the first two weeks of February.
Walgreen’s big month was especially encouraging to investors given that January is typically the weakest month for retailers. Amazingly, Walgreen’s customer traffic was actually down a tad in January, but the customers that did show up bought more items than usual. WAG shares were also helped by strong earnings from rival CVS (NYSE: CVS), which showed that business was good this winter at the national drugstore chains.
Though its 1.9% yield is rather modest, Walgreen has increased its dividend for 38 straight years.
American States Water Co. (NYSE: AWR)
Dividend Yield: 2.5%
Q1 Return: 12.4%
Dividend-paying water companies are pretty boring. But the first-quarter return for American States Water were anything but that.
Several analysts upgraded the stock to “buy” status after the water utilities company improved its full-year earnings outlook. AWR’s earnings per share have nearly quadrupled since 2010. Since then the stock has risen 85%.
That’s not a bad return for a stock that has upped its dividend for 59 consecutive years, second only to Diebold.
The Sherwin-Williams Co. (NYSE: SHW)
Dividend Yield: 1.1%
Q1 return: 7.4%
Having recently become the leading producer of paints and coatings in the U.S., Sherwin-Williams has ridden that momentum to big gains of late.
The stock is up 82% in the last two years, and 274% in the last five. The recent gains are merely an extension of the stock’s ongoing rally.
The company is almost certainly benefitting from the housing recovery. As more new homes are being built, more paint is needed.
Throw in the fact that the company has increased its dividend for 35 years in a row, and Sherwin-Williams look like an attractive income investment.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ)
Dividend Yield: 2.7%
Q1 return: 7.25%
One of most recognizable consumer products giants has long been known as a premier dividend grower. Lately, Johnson & Johnson has acted more like a growth stock.
The 7.25% return in Q1 brought the stock to an all-time high of just under $100 a share. The most recent catalyst was a deal to sell its Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics business – founded in 1937 – to The Carlyle Group (NYSE: CG). JNJ earned a cool $4 billion in the deal, and the stock got an instant boost when the deal was announced in late January.

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