There are several characteristics to look for when buying dividend stocks for the long haul. Ideally, you want companies with stable and growing revenue, excellent track records of dividend increases, and histories of shareholder-friendly management, just to name a few important attributes. With that in mind, here are some examples of excellent dividend stocks for the long haul, 

You might not think of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) as a dividend stock, but it recently yielded a solid 1.7%, and its payout has increased by an annual average of about 11% over the past three years. Better still, it’s sitting on plenty of cash — more than $200 billion — so that payout isn’t in any foreseeable danger. It’s true that some 90% of that is held abroad, which isn’t ideal, but even having 10% at home represents a lot of money. 

Apple is committed to rewarding shareholders, too — not only with a dividend, but also with share buybacks. It has already bought back about $90 billion of stock, with $50 billion more authorized.

Better still, it’s not even exorbitantly priced, with a recent P/E ratio of 14. Give this dynamic, growing, dividend-paying innovator some consideration for your portfolio.

PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) hasn’t always gotten as much respect as it deserves, as it has long played second fiddle in the soft-drink business to its red-canned rival. Yet what PepsiCo has that its primary competitor doesn’t is a burgeoning snack business, and that has been instrumental in helping the company overcome pressure from growing concerns about the possible health impacts of both sugar-laden and diet carbonated soft drinks. From a dividend perspective, PepsiCo is a member of the elite group of Dividend Aristocrats, with the drink and snack giant having boosted its dividend every single year for the past 43 years. Just last month PepsiCo made its latest increase, sending its dividend up more than 7% to $0.7025 per share on a quarterly basis. That works out to a dividend yield that approaches 3%, and over the past decade, PepsiCo’s payout has roughly tripled, showing off the growth the company has enjoyed.

One dividend stock that could deliver excellent performance for the next decade and beyond is Health Care REIT (NYSE:HCN). As the name implies, this REIT invests in healthcare properties — mainly senior housing and long-term care facilities. The healthcare real estate market is approximately $1 trillion in size and growing, leaving plenty of room for future investment opportunity, both in terms of acquisitions and development.

Finally, HealthCare REIT partners with some of the most experienced operators in the business, and likes to expand alongside them. In other words, by expanding on already-successful partnerships, HealthCare REIT takes much of the guesswork out of its growth strategy — which can be seen by the company’s 87% occupancy rate (83% is average) and the fact that the company’s senior housing units generate 52% more income than the industry average. Health Care REIT pays a generous 4.8% annual dividend that has grown consistently over the past several decades, and it has produced an outstanding 16.1% average total return since its inception.

Weingarten Realty Investors (NYSE:WRI), a real estate investment trust (REIT) that leases retail space to tenants, primarily in grocery store-anchored shopping centers which it either owns or leases. Weingarten operates 232 income-producing properties across 20 states. Long-term leases with grocery stores like Kroger, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, Harris Teeter,and Publix anchor most of the company’s shopping centers. Weingarten’s revenue is extremely well diversified among its properties: as of the company’s last annual report, no single center provided more than 2% of total annual base rental revenue. Weingarten has a well-structured balance sheet and is quite disciplined about disposing of aging properties it chooses not to renovate. Best of all, WRI offers a current dividend yield of 4%, creating long-term total return opportunities for those who like to reinvest their dividends.

Choosing a dividend stock you can own for a decade going forward is a thought-provoking exercise. A basic principle to remember is that it’s not enough to isolate a stock with the ability to pay out and grow a dividend over the next decade. The company should also operate within an industry that has a reasonable certainty of growth over the long-term.

Originally appeared on The Motely Fool

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