On a day in which we’re unveiling our “Next Netflix” – a growth stock that could return more than 400% in two years – it seems odd to talk about dividend stocks.
The stock market is approaching all-time highs yet again. Investors seem to have an insatiable appetite for risk these days. There seems to be no end in sight for this five-year rally.
But all good things eventually come to an end on Wall Street. This isn’t close to the longest time between 10% pullbacks for the S&P 500, so a correction isn’t necessarily imminent. Someday, however, a correction will occur. When it happens, you’ll want to have plenty of income investments in your portfolio.
So even as you search for growth stocks amidst this go-go investing climate – and as we scour the globe for the next Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) – it makes sense to continue rounding out your portfolio with the best dividend stocks you can find. Companies that have been consistently growing their dividends are the best candidates.
Here are the Four Best Dividend Stocks to Buy in April:
Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO)
Nearly three years to the day since Cisco initiated a dividend, the company is about to issue its fourth increase in the dividend payout.
The latest two-cent bump will boost Cisco’s quarterly dividend to 19 cents per share, bringing the yield to a very generous 3.5%. That’s especially high for a blue-chip tech stock. By comparison, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) offers a 2.3% yield and Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) is 2.8%.
What makes Cisco’s latest dividend hike especially encouraging is that the company is coming off a quarter in which sales declined 8%, and another 6% to 8% decline is expected this quarter. When a company increases its dividend even amid a drop-off in sales, it illuminates its commitment to rewarding shareholders.
The one caveat with Cisco: the ex-dividend day is today, April 1. If you don’t own shares already and want to buy in time to receive the new-and-improved dividend this quarter, you’d better act quickly.
Gap (NYSE: GPS)
U.S. retailers are profiting from America’s post-recession recovery. And this clothing store is one of them.
Gap’s earnings per share have tripled since 2007, rising to $2.74 this past fiscal year. During that time, the company’s dividend has increased from 8 cents per share to 22 cents per share. The latest two-cent hike will be paid out on April 30, to investors of record as of April 7 (next Monday).
Though the yield is a mere 2.1%, this marks the fifth straight year that Gap has upped its payout.
General Mills (NYSE: GIS)
One of the world’s largest food companies is also becoming a fairly reliable dividend payer.
Since slashing its payout in the wake of the recession in 2010, General Mills will increase its dividend for the fourth straight year next week. The 41-cent dividend (up three cents from the previous payout) will be paid out May 1, and available to shareholders of record as of April 10. That brings the stock’s yield to a solid 3.2%.
General Mills has now paid a dividend for 115 straight years, dating back to its predecessor firm, the Washburn Crosby Co.
Hasbro (Nasdaq: HAS)
The latest three-cent dividend increase is nothing new for this maker of children’s toys and games.
Hasbro has now upped its payout every year for the last decade. What was a three-cent dividend in 2004 is now a 43-cent dividend, giving the company a 3.1% yield. Hasbro’s sales have been slumping, and EPS has declined 23% in the last two years. But the company’s financial struggles have had little effect on its dividend.
That’s the true sign of a reliable dividend grower. To get in on Hasbro’s latest growth, you must be a shareholder of record by May 1.
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