Dividend stocks are everywhere, but many just downright stink. In some cases, the business model is in serious jeopardy, or the dividend itself isn't sustainable. In others, the dividend is so low it's not even worth the paper your dividend check is printed on. A solid dividend strikes the right balance of growth, value, and sustainability.
Today, and one day each week for the rest of the year, we're going to look at one dividend-paying company that you can put in your portfolio for the long term without too much concern. This isn't to say these stocks don't share the same macro risks that other companies have, but they are a step above your common grade of dividend stock. See last week's selection.
This week, I plan to revisit agriculture and forestry equipment manufacturer Deere (NYS: DE) and show you why this company could plow its way into your portfolio.
So nice, I'll say it twice
I love finding the market's hidden gems, but sometimes the best deals are indeed the biggest companies, and Deere has become cheaper since we last reviewed it! There's little denying the fact that Deere offers near-necessity products for the farming and forestry industries. These products have led to the company reporting -- get this -- eight consecutive record quarterly profits!
In Deere's latest quarter, the company alluded to strength in pricing as well as increased demand for its products thanks to its heavy investments in newer technologies, with motors that are often more fuel-efficient. Despite a record year of crop production from U.S. farmers, it was actually Deere's forestry segment that exhibited the biggest jump in sales, rising 26%, as prices and volume rose despite higher raw material costs. Its agriculture and turf segment came in with a not-too-shabby 11% rise in revenue.
Deere's growth prospects show few signs of slowing and are being confirmed by other farm-based suppliers. Crop nutrient provider Agrium (NYS: AGU) noted recently that nitrogen and potash prices remain high thanks to warmer weather that allowed farmers to begin their planting season early. Intrepid Potash (NYS: IPI) supports this thesis, as it also alluded to strong crop prices buoying its growth forecasts when it reported results in May. Tractor manufacturer AGCO (NYS: AGCO) is expecting to grow EPS by double digits in 2012 and continued its amazing streak last quarter by recording its 20th consecutive earnings beat.
In forestry, Deere anticipates growth of 20% through the remainder of fiscal 2012 and again, we're seeing more confirmation from its peers. Construction behemoth Caterpillar (NYS: CAT) is seeing an increase in demand across the board, even in areas of slowing growth including Europe and China. International markets, even with tempered growth, are providing Deere and Caterpillar with huge growth opportunities that they are not failing to seize.
Growing like a weed
Perhaps the most enticing aspect of Deere, beyond the idea that its products are a necessity for the agricultural and forestry industries, is its incredible dividend growth since 2003. Since then, Deere's quarterly payout has risen 318% to $0.46 from just $0.11. Have a look at this rapid growth:
Source: Dividata. *Assumes $0.46 quarterly payout.
Sustained high crop prices mean that this dividend is likely to continue growing like a weed. With a surprisingly low payout ratio of 22%, its payout is extremely safe and yet another reason it should continue to rise.
Considering I've mentioned Deere as a great dividend stock you can buy right now twice in the past five months, you can tell I like the company. Deere is a leader in innovation and a staple among the agricultural and forestry industries, and I suspect it will be an unstoppable dividend force for decades to come.
If you're craving even more dividend ideas, I invite you to download a copy of our special report, "Secure Your Future With 9 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks," which is loaded with income-producing companies hand-selected by our top analysts. Best of all, this report is free, so don't miss out!
At the time this article was published Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any of the companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on Motley Fool CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that's digs deep to find the truth for you.
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