67 Best Dividend Stocks for Dependable Dividend Growth

The highest yield isn't everything when it comes to finding the best dividend stocks. Income investors know there's no substitute for regular dividend increases over the long haul.

A gold crown sitting on stacks of hundred dollar bills best dividend stocks
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Buy-and-hold dividend growth investors know something that less experienced yield-hunters don't: It pays to be patient when you're investing for income.

The best dividend stocks – companies that raise their payouts like clockwork decade after decade – can produce superior total returns (price plus dividends) over the long run, even if they sport apparently ho-hum yields to begin with.

That's because regular dividend increases lift the yield on an investor's original cost basis. Stick around long enough, and the modest yield you received on your initial investment can hit double digits one day.

For example, let's say you buy a $100 stock that pays three bucks a year in dividends. That makes your dividend yield 3.0%. OK, that's not too shabby, but it's hardly anything to write home about when risk-free Treasury debt is yielding more than 4% (opens in new tab)

But here's where relentless and reliable dividend growth comes in: Let's say this company in which you've invested your hard-earned cash increases its dividend by 10%, year after year after year after year. 

In a decade's time, the dividend yield on your original cost basis will have grown to 7.8%. And it only gets better from there. After 20 years, your original investment of $100 will sport a dividend yield of more than 20%. Indeed, that one hundred bucks you plonked down two decades ago will generate $20.18 in annual income. 

And after 25 years of dividend hikes? Your original $100 will generate $32.50 in annual income, or a yield of 32.5%. (We're talking returns from dividends alone in this example. Barring disaster, the value of your $100 equity investment will appreciate in price as well.)

It's called the magic of compounding. As Ben Franklin famously said, "Money makes money. And the money that money makes, makes money."

Companies with long histories of annual dividend growth also offer some peace of mind. When a firm manages to raise its dividend year after year, through recession, war, market crashes and more, it's making a powerful statement about both its financial resilience and its commitment to shareholders.

"Investing in companies with sustainable dividend growth can help augment total returns and reduce volatility while providing a growing income stream," write David Park (opens in new tab) and David Chalupnik (opens in new tab), portfolio manager and head of U.S. active equities portfolio management, respectively, at Nuveen (opens in new tab). "Dividend growth oriented companies have historically participated in up markets and helped to mitigate risk during periods of heighted volatility and market drawdowns."

Enter the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats

S&P 500 vs Dividend Aristocrats in 2022

(Image credit: YCharts)

The Dividend Aristocrats are companies in the S&P 500 Index that have raised their payouts annually for at least 25 consecutive years. This list of the S&P 500's best dividend stocks is a mix of household names and more obscure firms, but they all play key roles in the American economy. And although they're scattered across pretty much every sector of the market, they do all share one thing in common: a commitment to reliable and long-term dividend growth.

If nothing else, the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats (opens in new tab) offered an effective way to play defense in 2022 – a year in which the S&P 500 logged its worst annual performance since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008. True, the Dividend Aristocrats index likewise finished the year in the red, but it held up far better than the broader market.

As you can see in the above chart, in 2022, the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats outperformed the S&P 500 by 24 percentage points on a total return basis (price change plus dividends).

S&P Dow Jones Indices rebalances the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats every January, and it's added three newcomers to the index for 2023: Nordson (NDSN (opens in new tab)), C.H. Robinson Worldwide (CHRW (opens in new tab)) and J. M. Smucker (SJM (opens in new tab)) joined the index (opens in new tab) prior to the market open on Feb. 1. 

Here are the 67 S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats. The following names have been among the best dividend stocks for income growth over the past few decades, and they're a great place to start if you're looking to add dividend battleships to your long-term portfolios.

Companies are listed by the number of years they've consecutively raised their dividends, from lowest to highest. The index of Dividend Aristocrats is maintained by S&P Dow Jones Indices. Dividend history based on company information and S&P data. Dividend-growth streaks include the current year if the company announced a dividend hike as of April 26, 2022.

Dan Burrows
Senior Investing Writer, Kiplinger.com

Dan Burrows is Kiplinger's senior investing writer, having joined the august publication full time in 2016.

A long-time financial journalist, Dan is a veteran of SmartMoney, MarketWatch, CBS MoneyWatch, InvestorPlace and DailyFinance. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Senior Executive and Boston magazine, and his stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, the San Jose Mercury News and Investor's Business Daily, among other publications. As a senior writer at AOL's DailyFinance, Dan reported market news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and hosted a weekly video segment on equities.

In his current role at Kiplinger, Dan writes about equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, funds, macroeconomics, demographics, real estate, cost of living indexes and more.