Stocks to buy

When it comes to finding the best long-term dividend stocks to buy, yield should one be a key part of your overall criteria. It may sound tempting to build a dividend portfolio made up entirely of high-yielding names, but there are some flaws to such a strategy.

Namely, given how common it is for high-yielding stocks to end up becoming yield or value-traps, paper losses can sometimes outweigh the gains from steady-but-large payouts. Hence, placing as much emphasis on factors like quality and dividend growth are key. A portfolio consisting of the best forever hold dividend stocks may have the highest overall yield, yet factors like continued dividend growth, as well as from growth of the portfolio due to price appreciation will more than make up for it.

So, what are some of the best long-term dividend stocks to buy right now? Consider these seven. Each one offers a solid yield, has a track record of steady dividend growth, and is reasonably-priced to boot.

GPC Genuine Parts $148.93
ITW Illinois Tool Works $218.73
JPM JPMorgan $135.71
LMT Lockheed Martin $444.01
LOW Lowe’s $201.13
MRK Merck $110.41
TXN Texas Instruments $173.88

Genuine Parts (GPC)

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Genuine Parts (NYSE:GPC) is a leading distributor of automotive and industrial parts. The company may be best known for its customer-facing NAPA Auto parts brand, and for its longstanding sponsorship of NASCAR.

GPC stock, however, may be best known among investors for its status as not only a “dividend aristocrat,” but a “dividend king,” as it has increased its dividend more than fifty years in a row (66 to be exact). At current prices, shares sport a 2.42% forward yield. Over the past five years, GPC has raised its payout by an average of 5.78% annually.

Trading for a reasonable 18 times earnings, sell-side forecasts call for the company’s earnings to continue growing in the coming years, albeit at a slow and steady pace. Still, such growth should be sufficient for GPC to sustain (and grow) its valuation, which alongside the dividends could create solid total returns.

Illinois Tool Works (ITW)

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Illinois Tools Works (NYSE:ITW) is many years away from becoming a “dividend king.” However, the industrial conglomerate did attain “dividend aristocrat” status after delivering its 25th consecutive year of dividend growth. ITW stock currently has a forward dividend yield of 2.33%. Although this doesn’t put it into the “high yield stocks to never sell” category, it is certainly one of the moderate yield stocks to never sell, for two reasons.

First, ITW is increasing its payout at a rapid pace. Over the past five years, Illinois Tools Works’ dividend has increased by an average of 11.5% annually. Second, alongside double-digit dividend growth, the company (which prides itself on the effectiveness of its decentralized management structure) has a long history of steady earnings growth, which has resulted in more-than-satisfactory price appreciation for ITW. Shares today trade for 22.3 times earnings.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM)

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A few weeks back, I named JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) one of the best Dow stocks. Much of my argument had to do with the money center bank’s big rebound potential, once issues such as the banking crisis and the commercial real estate crisis resolve.

JPM stock today trades for around 10.1 times earnings. To many, this valuation may appear more-than-fair, given that other big bank stocks now trade at lower multiples. However, once the issues mentioned above resolve, shares could return to prior multiples (mid-teens). That’s not all.

Post-crisis, earnings growth and dividends could mean more outstanding returns ahead for shares. JPM currently has a forward dividend yield of 2.92%. JPMorgan Chase has also raised its payout by nearly 13% annually over the past five years. Taking all of this into account, consider it one of the best long-term dividend stocks to buy.

Lockheed Martin (LMT)

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Admittedly, after rallying from early 2022 through early 2023, Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) shares haven’t performed so hot lately. This defense contracting stock has sold off since April, due to the latest debt ceiling fight between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress.

However, as of this writing the current proposed debt ceiling compromise bodes well for defense stocks. At least, that’s the view of Citi analyst Jason Gursky, who on May 30 made this argument, saying that LMT stock and many of its peers will rally if this bill is passed.

Much like with JPM, the resolution of overarching uncertainty, coupled with earnings and dividend growth, could mean strong returns ahead for Lockheed Martin shares. LMT has a forward yield of 2.68%, and the company has raised its payout 20 years in a row. Rising geopolitical tensions likely bode well for Lockheed Martin’s future earnings growth.

Lowe’s (LOW)

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Previously, I’ve argued that Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) is one of the best buyback stocks. The home improvement retailer is currently in the process of buying back $15 billion worth of its own shares. This equates to around 12.3% of LOW’s current market cap.

However, the appeal of LOW stock goes beyond just the company’s share repurchase plans. This is also one of the best long-term dividend stocks. A “dividend king,” with 59 years of consecutive dividend increases under its belt, Lowe’s has been aggressive in increasing its payouts in recent years.

While currently yielding 2.13% annually, over the past five years, Lowes has implemented annual dividend increases averaging 20.7%. I’m not saying that 20% annual payout increases will continue in perpetuity, but with a payout ratio of just 30.24%, the retailer has room to substantially raise this dividend in the coming years.

Merck (MRK)

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Merck (NYSE:MRK) is far from reaching “dividend king” status. Even so, don’t underestimate the big pharma company should still be considered one of the best long-term dividend stocks to buy. MRK stock currently has a forward yield of 2.63%. The company’s payouts have grown by an average of 9.41% per year over the past five years. Further earnings and dividend growth may be in store, if analysts earning forecasts are to be believed.

Sell-side estimates call for earnings to climb this year and the next. Perhaps, for many more years after that. As InvestorPlace’s Larry Ramer recently argued, Merck has made moves to extend the patent production of its flagship Keytruda cancer treatment. This could result in a long growth runway, creating strong total returns for investors scooping up this stock today.

Texas Instruments (TXN)

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When it comes to chip stocks right now, it’s about Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA), and its high exposure to the artificial intelligence (or AI) megatrend. Yet if you are a dividend investor, Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN) may make for a better choice.

Why? Yes, over the past year, TXN stock has traded sideways, as investors gauge the impact of a near-term weakening in semiconductors for both electronics as well as for industrial use. However, much like many of the other best long-term dividend stocks, shares may be in for a rebound once uncertainties clear up.

On a longer time frame, steady earnings and dividend growth could result in strong total returns. Texas Instruments currently has a forward dividend yield of 2.81%. The company has a 17-year track record of consecutive dividend growth, and its payouts have increased by an average of 15.6% annually over the past five years.

On the date of publication, Thomas Niel did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Thomas Niel, contributor for InvestorPlace.com, has been writing single-stock analysis for web-based publications since 2016.

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