These are undoubtedly uncertain times, with businesses grinding to a halt. No one knows how long these troubled times will last, with various governments trying to control the spread of the coronavirus illness, resulting in people staying home and millions of workers getting laid off. It is equally unclear how quickly these businesses will bounce back once the stay-at-home orders are lifted.
However, during economic slowdowns, reliable dividend payers help stabilize returns. While you are waiting for things to improve, investors can turn to these companies to provide them with an income stream. Even better, the companies, Walmart (NYSE:WMT), Colgate-Palmolive Co. (NYSE:CL), and Kimberly Clark (NYSE:KMB) are consumer staples, which means these companies sell everyday items that people tend to buy no matter what is happening.
In other words, you shouldn’t have to worry about these companies cutting dividends as several others have done.
A huge retailer
Walmart’s extensive retail network offers “everyday low prices” to its customers. Management’s well-known strategy is to keep a tight lid on expenses and pass on these savings to its customers. In fact, Walmart seeks to offer the lowest prices, and it serves 265 million customers weekly.
The company has done well during the coronavirus pandemic, increasing traffic and sales. True, Walmart is limiting the number of people who can go into the store at one time, but it is considered essential and will remain open. The demand for some items may fade after the illness passes, but things will even out over time and customers are going to keep buying from Walmart. Management has also built up some goodwill with employees by paying them special bonuses, helping keep up morale and retention.
For fiscal 2020 (ended Jan. 31, 2020), the retail giant’s sales were $524 billion and operating income was $20.6 billion. On its cash flow statement, Walmart generated $25.3 billion of operating cash flow. After deducting $10.7 billion of capital expenditures from this operating cash flow, its free cash flow easily covered the $6 billion in dividends.
Walmart has a history of raising the quarterly payout by a penny each year. Its $0.54 dividend was paid in March, equating to a 1.7% yield.
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