With the stock market hovering near all-time highs, it can be a smart idea to think a little defensively in your portfolio. However, that doesn't mean you need to give up your growth potential if the market keeps rising. Blue chip dividend stocks have historically performed better than their non-dividend counterparts during tough times, and many have outperformed the overall market over long time periods.
With that in mind, here are five of the largest dividend payers in the market, all of which pay out more than $5 billion per year to shareholders and could make excellent additions to your portfolio now.
|Company||Recent Stock Price||Dividend Yield||Annual Dividends Paid|
|Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM)||$81.55||3.8%||$12.9 billion|
|AT&T (NYSE: T)||$38.12||5.1%||$12.0 billion|
|Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC)||$52.41||2.9%||$7.6 billion|
|Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG)||$87.25||3.2%||$7.2 billion|
|International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM)||$152.49||3.9%||$5.6 billion|
Integrated oil giant ExxonMobil is one of the largest companies in the world, so it should be no surprise that it's also one of the biggest dividend payers.
One major reason to like Exxon is for the diversification of its business. The company has operations in offshore and onshore oil drilling, chemicals, refining, and more. And while much of Exxon's revenue suffers when oil prices fall, some areas of the business actually tend to do better. For example, as my Foolish colleague Reuben Gregg Brewer pointed out, 2015 was a terrible year for Exxon's drilling operations, but the company's refining business more than doubled its profits.
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As far as the dividend goes, Exxon is a member of the Dividend Aristocrats index, having raised its dividend for 34 consecutive years, and pays 3.8% as of this writing. Considering the company's financial strength and profitability, the streak shouldn't be in jeopardy anytime soon.
Telecom giant AT&T is a favorite stock among dividend-seeking investors, and for good reason -- its 5.1% yield is among the best you'll find from such a stable company. And like Exxon, AT&T has a streak of consecutive dividend increases that exceeds three decades.
There are a few good reasons to like AT&T over the long term. For one thing, AT&T has a pending acquisition of Time Warner. That will add all of the latter's content, helping AT&T to keep building a moat around its business, and allowing it to continue to bundle more and more services together -- potentially capturing market share from rivals such as Verizon and Sprint.
3. Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo has significantly underperformed the rest of the banking sector over the past nine months or so, as a result of the now-infamous "fake accounts" scandal.
This was certainly a major misstep by the bank, and the fallout from the scandal is obvious. The bank's non-interest income has fallen significantly, expenses are up, and the bank's normally strong efficiency ratio has suffered.
Having said that, I believe that the effects of the scandal will be temporary. Wells Fargo remains one of the most well-run banks in the world, in terms of risk management, efficiency of operations, and profitability. The bank has consistently delivered better returns on equity and assets than its rivals, while maintaining a relatively low-risk asset portfolio.
4. Procter & Gamble
Consumer product giant Procter & Gamble's strength lies in its vast portfolio of well-known brand names, including Gillette, Pampers, Tide, and Downy, just to name a few. To be clear, there certainly are some challenges facing Procter & Gamble going forward. For example, discounted and subscription-based razor competitors such as Dollar Shave Club have cost the Gillette brand market share in recent years.
However, the long-term outlook is still strong for P&G shareholders. The company has proactively shed non-core brands to focus on its biggest winners, and has done an excellent job of controlling costs and boosting margins. Finally, Procter & Gamble has one of the longest streaks of consecutive dividend increases in the market at 60 years and counting.
5. International Business Machines
It was recently disclosed that Warren Buffett had unloaded about 30% of Berkshire Hathaway's massive stake in International Business Machines, better known as IBM. Buffett said that the company was facing strong competition, and therefore he had valued its stock "somewhat downward." However, don't be too quick to abandon IBM -- Buffett still owns more than 50 million shares of the tech giant, and the central reasons Buffett bought IBM in the first place still apply.
For one thing, IBM still has great relationships with large organizations, which not only provide stability to its revenue, but also give the company a strong base on which to grow with new product developments. The business also has "stickiness," meaning that it would cost its customers a lot of money to choose a new provider for the integrated solutions (hardware, software, and services) that IBM provides.
This article originally appeared on The Motley Fool.