S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats
The Dividend Aristocrats are S&P 500 index constituents that have increased their dividend payouts for 25 consecutive years or more.
The S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat index was launched by Standard and Poors in May 2005 and has historically outperformed the S&P 500 index with lower volatility over longer investment time frames. For example, over the past 10 years through the period ending June 30, 2018, the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat index has returned 13.28% on an average annual basis, compared to the S&P 500 index which has returned only 10.17% annually during that same period. The risk factor commonly called the standard deviation of the S&P 500 during this same 10 year period was 14.71% while the Dividend Aristocrat risk factor or standard deviation was 13.63% or 7.34% lower than the S&P 500. Standard deviation measures investment risk as a range in percentage terms within a selected probability called in statistical terms a confidence level. The investment return would then fall within a range that is plus or minus around the mean investment return and would be typically within a bell shaped curve. The higher the standard deviation or the wider the plus and minus range of investment returns combined from that mean investment return, the greater the risk of the investment since it has the potential to be farther away from the projected mean return.
The S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat index long term track record showcases the long-term positive effect of compounding dividends as well as the positive effect of a rising dividend payout on a portfolio's total return over multi-year periods. To reiterate, as demonstrated over the past ten years on an average annual basis, the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat index has returned over 3% more annually than the S&P 500 index with approximately 7% lower standard deviation or risk.
The companies that comprise the Dividend Aristocrats span all eleven sectors within the S&P 500 index and therefore encompass both large cap growth and large cap value companies. This composition contrasts sharply with most other dividend-yield based indices, which tend to be more value-oriented in their holdings and are more heavily weighted toward financial, energy, telecommunication and utility stocks. The S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat index has traditionally had a large cap value investor audience that favored blue chip dividend stocks. However, many large cap growth investors also now view the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat index very positively as they seek companies that possess a combination of both capital appreciation and a consistent and increasing dividend payout.
The increased popularity of "Dividend Growth" investing in recent years has greatly elevated the profile of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat index in the eyes of the investing public. Dividend Growth investing involves investing in companies that are generating robust free cash flow. Free cash flow is defined as a companies' operating cash flow minus capital expenditures. The significance of strong free cash flow is that it then allows a companies' management the flexibility to pay a higher dividend growth rate. Since 1990, the average or mean annual dividend growth rate for the S&P 500 index has been 5.92% through June 30, 2018. The absolute percentage level of dividends in a dividend growth strategy is less paramount, as there are many attractive dividend growth stocks that yield only a 1% to 2% annual dividend rate. What the investor is seeking in this type of strategy is a higher and accelerating rate of an annual percentage of the dividend increase. Most dividend growth investors seek dividend payouts that increase at a 10% or more rate annually. S&P Capital IQ rates these large cap individual companies based on the growth and stability of their earnings and dividends. In rating the company, they utilize a quality letter scale of A plus to D. What is considered "high quality" on this scale are those companies that are rated A plus, A, A minus and B plus. The typical dividend growth stock is rated B plus or higher, for the reason that a company has to be generating a significant amount of free cash flow in order to pay an increasing dividend annually. These dividend growth companies therefore tend to be more mature companies in nature and do not include many of today's widely held newer companies such as the "FANG" stocks.
To be eligible for the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat index, a stock must have increased their dividend payouts for a minimum of 25 consecutive years or more, must currently be part of the S&P 500 index and finally must have a minimum market capitalization of $3 billion. A committee at S&P Global makes the final decision on which companies are included in the S&P 500 index and this then allows for eligibility for inclusion into the Dividend Aristocrat index. Should a company reduce their dividend or be dropped from the S&P 500 index, the holding is automatically dropped from the Dividend Aristocrat list as well. The S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat index has historically consisted of approximately 50 large cap companies with most of the stocks in this index rating B plus or higher on the quality scale. What stands out immediately upon review of the Dividend Aristocrat index is that unlike the S&P 500 index, there is a relatively small amount of technology holdings in the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat index. Please see below for sector weightings for the Dividend Aristocrat index.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat list has evolved as follows:
2009 - The list declined from 52 companies in 2008 to 42 companies in 2009, as ten companies cut their dividend payouts due to the 2008 financial crisis. They were: Anheuser Busch (BUD), Bank of America (BAC) , Comerica (CMA), Fifth Third Bank (FITB), Keycorp (KEY), Nucor (NUE), Progressive Corp (PGR), Regions Financial (RF), Synovus Financial (SNV), and Wm. Wrigley (WW), which was bought.
Also in 2009, there were two additions - Bemis (BMS) and Leggett & Platt (LEG).
2010 - A second round of ten companies were dropped: Avery Dennison (AVY), BB&T, Gannett (GCI), General Electric (GE), Johnson Controls (JCI), Legg Mason (LM), M&T Bank (MTB), Pfizer (PFE), State Street Bank (STT), and US Bancorp (USB).
Also in 2010, Brown Forman (BF.B) was added.
2011 - Three companies were added, Ecolab (ECL), Hormel Foods (HRL), and McCormick (MKC).
2012 - CenturyLink (CTL) was removed from the index after reducing its dividend from 72.5 to 54 cents per share per quarter.
In addition in 2012, ten new companies were added to the index as follows:
- AT&T (T)
- Colgate-Palmolive (CL)
- Franklin Resources (BEN)
- Genuine Parts (GPC)
- HCP (HCP)
- Illinois Tool Works (ITW)
- Medtronic (MDT)
- Nucor (NUE)
- Sysco (SYY)
- T. Rowe Price (TROW)
2013 - Pitney Bowes (PBI) was removed after slashing the dividend from 37.5c to 18.75c per quarter per share.
2014 - Bemis (BMS) was removed from the S&P 500 index and therefore dropped from the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat list.
2015 - Family Dollar Stores (FDO) was removed from the list due to its purchase by Dollar Tree. Also in 2015, Sigma-Aldrich Corp (SIAL) was removed from the list due to its acquisition by Merck.
2017- General Dynamics (GD) and the REIT Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRT) were added to the list and the REIT HCP, Inc. was removed from the index due to spinning off HCR Manor Care and reducing their dividend.
Also in 2017, CR Bard (BCR) was removed from the list due to its purchase by Becton Dickinson (BDX) on December 29, 2017.
S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat companies as of January 25, 2018
|Ticker Symbol||Company||GICS Economic Sector||GICS Sub-Industry||SEC Filings|
|MMM||3M Company||Industrials||Industrial Conglomerates||reports|
|AFL||AFLAC Inc.||Financials||Life & Health Insurance||reports|
|ABBV||AbbVie Inc.||Health Care||Pharmaceuticals||reports|
|ABT||Abbott Laboratories||Health Care||Health Care Equipment||reports|
|APD||Air Products & Chemicals Inc||Materials||Industrial Gases||reports|
|AOS||A.O. Smith||Industrials||Building Products||reports|
|ADM||Archer-Daniels-Midland Co||Consumer Staples||Agricultural Products||reports|
|T||AT&T||Telecommunication Services||Integrated Telecommunication Services||reports|
|ADP||Automatic Data Processing||Information Technology||Internet Software & Services||reports|
|BDX||Becton Dickinson||Health Care||Health Care Equipment||reports|
|BF.B||Brown-Forman (Class B shares)||Consumer Staples||Distillers & Vintners||reports|
|CAH||Cardinal Health Inc.||Health Care||Health Care Distributors||reports|
|CVX||Chevron Corp.||Energy||Integrated Oil & Gas||reports|
|CINF||Cincinnati Financial Corp||Financials||Property & Casualty Insurance||reports|
|CTAS||Cintas Corp||Industrials||Diversified Support Services||reports|
|CLX||The Clorox Company||Consumer Staples||Household Products||reports|
|KO||Coca-Cola Co||Consumer Staples||Soft Drinks||reports|
|CL||Colgate-Palmolive||Consumer Staples||Household Products||reports|
|ED||Consolidated Edison Inc||Utilities||Electric Utilities||reports|
|DOV||Dover Corp||Industrials||Industrial Machinery||reports|
|ECL||Ecolab Inc||Materials||Specialty Chemicals||reports|
|EMR||Emerson Electric||Industrials||Electrical Components & Equipment||reports|
|XOM||Exxon Mobil Corp||Energy||Integrated Oil & Gas||reports|
|FRT||Federal Realty Investment Trust||Real Estate||Retail REITs||reports|
|BEN||Franklin Resources||Financials||Asset Management & Custody Banks||reports|
|GD||General Dynamics||Industrials||Aerospace & Defense||reports|
|GPC||Genuine Parts Company||Consumer Discretionary||Specialty Stores||reports|
|GWW||W. W. Grainger||Industrials||Industrial Machinery||reports|
|HRL||Hormel Foods Corp||Consumer Staples||Packaged Foods & Meats||reports|
|ITW||Illinois Tool Works||Industrials||Industrial Machinery||reports|
|JNJ||Johnson & Johnson||Health Care||Health Care Equipment||reports|
|KMB||Kimberly-Clark||Consumer Staples||Household Products||reports|
|LEG||Leggett & Platt||Consumer Discretionary||Home Furnishings||reports|
|LOW||Lowe's Companies, Inc.||Consumer Discretionary||Home Improvement Retail||reports|
|MKC||McCormick & Company||Consumer Staples||Packaged Foods & Meats||reports|
|MDT||Medtronic||Health Care||Health Care Equipment||reports|
|PPG||PPG Industries||Materials||Specialty Chemicals||reports|
|PEP||PepsiCo||Consumer Staples||Soft Drinks||reports|
|PG||Procter & Gamble||Consumer Staples||Personal Products||reports|
|ROP||Roper Technologies||Industrials||Industrial Conglomerates||reports|
|SPGI||S&P Global (formerly McGraw Hill Financial, Inc.)||Financials||Financial Exchanges & Data||reports|
|SWK||Stanley Black & Decker Inc.||Consumer Discretionary||Household Appliances||reports|
|SYY||Sysco||Consumer Staples||Food Distributors||reports|
|TROW||T. Rowe Price||Financials||Asset Management & Custody Banks||reports|
|TGT||Target Corporation||Consumer Discretionary||General Merchandise Stores||reports|
|VFC||VF Corporation||Consumer Discretionary||Apparel, Accessories & Luxury Goods||reports|
|WMT||Walmart||Consumer Staples||Hypermarkets & Super Centers||reports|
|WBA||Walgreen Boots Alliance||Consumer Staples||Drug Retail||reports|
S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat Sector Weightings as of June 30, 2018
- Consumer Staples - 25%,
- Industrials - 20%,
- Consumer Discretionary - 12%,
- Materials - 11%,
- Health Care - 11%,
- Financials - 9%,
- Energy - 4%,
- Technology - 2%,
- Real Estate - 2%,
- Utilities - 2%,
- Telecommunications- 2%
The ProShares S&P 500® Dividend Aristocrats ETF (NOBL) has tracked the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index since 2013.
By taking a Targeted Outcome approach, Cboe (Chicago Board Options Exchange) launched an index called 'Cboe S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Target Income Index' (Ticker: SPAI). This index is designed with the primary goal of generating an annualized level of income that is approximately 3.5% over the annual dividend yield of the S&P 500® Index and a secondary goal of generating price returns that are proportional to the price appreciation of the S&P 500 Index. The SPAI Index investment strategy includes (1) buying the stocks contained in the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat Index, and (2) partially “writing” (or selling) weekly “covered” call options on each stock, generally on the last trading day of each week.
Additionally, Cboe launched another index called 'Cboe S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Target Income Index - Monthly Series' (Ticker: SPATI). This index differs from the weekly series in that this index is designed with the primary goal of generating an annualized level of income that is approximately 3% over the annual dividend yield of the S&P 500® Index by partially "writing" (or selling) monthly "covered" call options on each stock, generally on the third Friday of each month.
Cboe Vest, a subsidiary of Cboe, is an asset management firm that has released a mutual fund (Ticker: KNGIX) (Sep 11, 2017) that seeks to track the 'SPAI' index, as well as an ETF (Ticker: KNG) (Mar 27, 2018) that seeks to track the 'SPATI' index.
Other popular ETFs that mimic the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat index but do not replicate it exactly include the exchange-traded fund SPDR S&P Dividend (SDY) which tracks the S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index. The S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrat Index is a different index than the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat Index. The High Yield version tracks the S&P Composite 1500 index, which contains three times as many stocks than the S&P 500 index. Another difference is that the High Yield version contains stocks that have increased their dividends for at least 20 consecutive years while the more popular and widely held Dividend Aristocrat Index has stocks that have increased their dividends for at least 25 consecutive years.
One other well-known ETF that mimics but does not exactly track the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat Index is the iShares Select Dividend (DVY). This ETF tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Select Dividend Index. 
- 2018 Dividend Aristocrats List Current list of all Dividend Aristocrats including statistics on each of the stocks that include dividend yield, valuation, debt metrics, and averages. Each stock is a U.S. S&P 500 stock that has increased its dividend for at least 25 consecutive years. This is the complete list of Dividend Aristocrat stocks.
- US Dividend Champions List An excel spreadsheet prepared by David Fish. The list provides an abundance of stock information for companies that have increased their dividend for consecutive years in a row. The list is broken into three categories separated by the dividend streak length: Dividend Champions (>24 years), Contenders (10 to 24 years) and Challengers (5 to 9 years).
- Canadian Dividend All-Star List The Canadian Dividend All-Star List is a list of Canadian companies that have increased their dividend for five or more calendar years in a row. The excel spreadsheet which can be downloaded for free provides a variety of stock and dividend information. Beyond regular stock information like the price, dividend yield, or P/E the list provides more than 10 years worth of dividend payments for each company and the lowest price each year for the past decade.
- Dividend Aristocrats 2015