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Dozens of Dividend Aristocrat stock have been big winners in 2019

By Philip van Doorn, MarketWatch

Few of them have declined, as low interest rates have made them more attractive

Dividend stocks are in a sweet spot, as they bridge the difference between growth and income.

Among dividend stocks, so-called Dividend Aristocrats are considered by some to be the cream of the crop.

Companies with long track records of annual dividend increases, as a group, have performed well over a long period. And some have dividend yields that are high enough to attract income-seeking investors, which may be important in the coming years if the Federal Reserve follows the European Central Bank down the road of incredibly low -- or even negative -- interest rates (link).

There are two Dividend Aristocrat indexes.

S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats

The S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index is maintained by S&P Dow Jones Indices and is made up of the 57 companies in the S&P 500 that have increased regular dividends on common shares for at least 25 consecutive years. It makes no difference how high a stock's current dividend yield is.

You can invest in the entire S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats group with the ProShares S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats ETF (NOBL).

Here's how the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index has performed against the broader S&P 500 over various periods:

Index                               Total return - 2019 through July 23  Total return - 3 years  Total return - 5 years  Total return - 10 years  Total return - 15 years  Total return - 20 years 
S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index  18%  36%  73%  325%  383%  532% 
S&P 500                             21%  47%  68%  279%  278%  226% 
                                                                                                                                                                                   Source: FactSet 

In the past five years, with the S&P 500's performance being weighted toward the FAANG group (Facebook (FB), Amazon.com (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX) and Google holding company Alphabet (GOOGL) (GOOGL)) and other rapidly growing technology companies, the S&P 500 Dividends Aristocrats Index's return has lagged that of the benchmark. However, the total returns for 10, 15 and 20 years speak for themselves.

The ProShares S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats ETF was established on Oct. 10, 2013. Here's a comparison of its long-term performance against the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY):

ETF                                                  Total return - 2019 through July 23  Total return - 3 years  Total return - 5 years  Total return - Oct. 10, 2013, through July 23, 2019 
ProShares S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats ETF US:NOBL    17%  34%  69%  94% 
SPDR S&P 500 ETF US:SPY                              21%  46%  67%  99% 
                                                                                                                                                                              Source: FactSet 

S&P High-Yield Dividend Aristocrats

S&P Dow Jones Indices also maintains the S&P High-Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index , which includes the 112 companies in the S&P 1500 Composite Index that have increased their regular dividend payouts for at least 20 straight years. (The S&P 1500 Composite Index is made up of the S&P 500 , the S&P 400 Mid-Cap Index and the S&P Small-Cap 600 Index . So all S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats are also high-yield Dividend Aristocrats.)

You can invest in the High-Yield Aristocrats as a group with the SPDR S&P Dividend ETF (SDY).

The SPDR S&P Dividend ETF was established Nov. 15, 2005. The S&P 500 High-Yield dividend Aristocrats Index was established Dec. 7, 1999. Here's how the performance of the ETF and the High-Yield Dividends Aristocrats Index compare to that of the S&P 1500 Composite Index for various periods:

Index                                      Total return - 2019 through July 23  Total return - 3 years  Total return - 5 years  Total return - 10 years  Total return - Nov. 15, 2005, through July 23, 2019  Total return - 15 years  Total return - Dec. 7, 1999, through July 23, 2019 
SPDR S&P Dividend ETF US:SDY               15%  31%  66%  268%  226%  N/A  N/A 
S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index  15%  33%  70%  282%  238%  294%  577% 
S&P Composite 1500 Index                   21%  45%  66%  279%  228%  284%  236% 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Source: FactSet 

Performance for all the Dividend Aristocrats

First, here are total returns for the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats, sorted by how well they have performed this year:

Company                          Ticker  Industry                              Total return - 2019  Total return - 3 years  Total return - 5 years  Dividend yield 
Cintas Corp.                     US:CTAS  Other Consumer Services                               55%                    150%                    337%           0.79% 
Air Products and Chemicals Inc.  US:APD  Chemicals                                             45%                     80%                    106%           2.03% 
S&P Global Inc.                  US:SPGI  Financial Publishing/ Services                        44%                    114%                    211%           0.94% 
Roper Technologies Inc.          US:ROP  Industrial Conglomerates                              41%                    120%                    169%           0.49% 
Dover Corp.                      US:DOV  Miscellaneous Manufacturing                           40%                     82%                     52%           1.96% 
Cincinnati Financial Corp.       US:CINF  Property/ Casualty Insurance                          39%                     55%                    160%           2.10% 
Ecolab Inc.                      US:ECL  Chemicals                                             36%                     72%                     93%           0.92% 
Target Corp.                     US:TGT  Specialty Stores                                      36%                     32%                     73%           2.98% 
Linde PLC                        US:LIN  Chemicals: Specialty                                  34%                     88%                     77%           1.69% 
V.F. Corp.                       US:VFC  Apparel/ Footwear                                     33%                     63%                     72%           2.31% 
Automatic Data Processing Inc.   US:ADP  Data Processing Services                              29%                     88%                    162%           1.88% 
United Technologies Corp.        US:UTX  Industrial Conglomerates                              28%                     37%                     38%           2.18% 
Stanley Black & Decker Inc.      US:SWK  Tools & Hardware                                      28%                     33%                     94%           1.82% 
Procter & Gamble Co.             US:PG  Household/ Personal Care                              27%                     46%                     67%           2.62% 
Illinois Tool Works Inc.         US:ITW  Industrial Machinery                                  26%                     47%                    105%           2.55% 
Sherwin-Williams Co.             US:SHW  Industrial Specialties                                25%                     72%                    140%           0.92% 
Abbott Laboratories              US:ABT  Medical Specialties                                   24%                    118%                    129%           1.44% 
Colgate-Palmolive Co.            US:CL  Household/ Personal Care                              24%                      4%                     19%           2.38% 
Aflac Inc.                       US:AFL  Life/ Health Insurance                                22%                     61%                     95%           1.96% 
McDonald's Corp.                 US:MCD  Restaurants                                           22%                     81%                    160%           2.17% 
Walmart Inc.                     US:WMT  Specialty Stores                                      22%                     64%                     65%           1.89% 
T. Rowe Price Group              US:TROW  Investment Managers                                   21%                     62%                     58%           2.75% 
Kimberly-Clark Corp.             US:KMB  Household/ Personal Care                              21%                     11%                     51%           3.05% 
General Dynamics Corp.           US:GD  Aerospace & Defense                                   20%                     37%                     70%           2.19% 
PepsiCo Inc.                     US:PEP  Beverages: Non-Alcoholic                              20%                     31%                     67%           2.92% 
Franklin Resources Inc.          US:BEN  Investment Managers                                   20%                     17%                    -27%           2.97% 
Brown-Forman Corp. Class B       US:BF.B  Beverages: Alcoholic                                  18%                     48%                     65%           1.19% 
Chevron Corp.                    US:CVX  Integrated Oil                                        18%                     34%                     15%           3.78% 
AT&T Inc.                        US:T  Telecommunications                                    18%                    -12%                     18%           6.36% 
PPG Industries Inc.              US:PPG  Industrial Specialties                                17%                     16%                     22%           1.71% 
Coca-Cola Co.                    US:KO  Beverages: Non-Alcoholic                              17%                     31%                     57%           2.94% 

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