Even after last week’s sell-off, 2023 has been an excellent year for many stocks. But as rip-roaring as the market recovery has been, there is still a great deal of uncertainty across many sectors of the economy.
Stable dividend stocks aren’t immune from volatility. But by providing an investor with a stable passive income source — dividend stocks incentivize investors to hold through good times and bad.
NextEra Energy (NEE 2.01%), PPG Industries (PPG -2.04%), and Air Products and Chemicals (APD 0.32%) may not be the most exciting companies. But each business dominates its respective industry and has a track record of steady growth that is ideally suited for supporting a growing dividend. Here’s why each stock is worth considering now.
NextEra’s renewable-energy growth keeps accelerating
Daniel Foelber (NextEra Energy): NextEra Energy stock fell 8.7% on Jan. 25, marking its worst single-day decline in years. The sell-off was in response to the company’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2022 earnings. And in the weeks since the earnings call, the stock has continued to languish and underperform the broader market.
NextEra Energy is by far the largest U.S.-regulated electric utility by market cap. Utilities of that size and quality aren’t used to that kind of volatility. But NextEra investors may remember a similar decline of 6.5% after the company reported its Q1 2022 earnings nine months ago.
So, why does NextEra Energy keep surprising Wall Street to the downside? It could be that it continues to deliver decent earnings growth instead of the torrid growth rate it was on a few years ago. But the company is delivering on its goals and laying the groundwork for decades of growth.
It plans to grow adjusted earnings by 6% to 8% annually through 2026 and issue 10% annual dividend raises through at least 2024.
NextEra Energy is the largest renewable energy operator in North America. It finished 2022 with a record backlog of 19 GW for NextEra Energy Resources (NEER) development. The company’s home state of Florida is ideally suited for its subsidiary, Florida Power & Light, to transition from fossil fuels to solar energy.
Meanwhile, NEER is heavily invested in wind and solar energy across the United States. Between 2023 and 2026, NEER expects to build a staggering 32.7 GW to 41.8 GW of new renewable and energy storage projects. For context, NEER ended 2020 with about 19.2 GW of owned net generation capacity.
The beauty of NextEra’s business model is that it is a rapidly growing business that can also secure stable cash flows from power purchase agreements. The company is essentially a cash cow that could reap the benefits of its infrastructure investments for decades to come.
In sum, NextEra Energy is unrivaled in its industry when it comes to blending renewable exposure and growth. But the company’s 2.2% dividend yield is lower than other regulated electric utilities, so passive income-focused investors may prefer a different utility, even if that means a lower growth rate.
It’s time to start looking at paint and coatings companies
Lee Samaha (PPG Industries): The stock is down 31% from its all-time high, and it’s not hard to see why. A combination of surging cost inflation and weakening end markets contributed to the company’s adjusted net income falling by 11% in 2022 to $1.44 billion. PPG did raise prices in 2022 (up 11%) but failed to fully offset the negative impact of lower sales volumes, unfavorable foreign exchange movements, and rising costs.
In addition, the company’s end markets are mixed, at best, in current conditions. There’s a global slowdown in DIY paints and coatings demand — hardly surprising given rising interest rates’ impact on housing and difficult comparisons with the lockdown periods. Furthermore, the European industrial sector is weakening due to pressures caused by ongoing sanctions on Russian energy and the closing of China’s economy due to the pandemic’s resurgence.
Still, investing is not just about what happened but what will happen, and PPG has a pathway to improved profitability. The cost inflation and supply chain issues won’t last forever, and the reopening of the economy in China will boost PPG’s sales, not least in the automotive original equipment market. Meanwhile, the global automotive refinish market is relatively defensive and grew by a double-digit percentage in the fourth quarter of 2022 for PPG. Furthermore, aerospace coatings will grow in 2023 as airplane manufacturers seek to ramp production and deliver on multiyear backlogs.
In fact, Wall Street analysts are calling for PPG’s earnings to grow at a mid-teens annual rate over the next two years. And if you believe in buying when there’s blood in the streets, now could be an excellent time to buy some stock in PPG and enjoy a 2% dividend yield at the current price.
A sell-off after an earnings miss brings a buying opportunity
Scott Levine (Air Products and Chemicals): Falling more than 6% since the start of 2023, shares of Air Products have given back their 1.3% gain in 2022. With their recent decline, investors have a great opportunity to pick up shares of this industrial gas stock — and its forward dividend yield of 2.4% — at a lower price than they have in a couple of months.
When stocks tumble lower, it’s natural to wonder whether there’s something troubling about the company, leading to the sell-off. This is hardly the case with Air Products, however. Reporting first-quarter 2023 earnings on Feb. 2, Air Products came up short of analysts’ revenue and earnings estimates. Unhappy with this, investors clicked the sell button, and shares fell 7% compared to the stock’s closing the day before.
Digging through management’s commentary, investors will find that the company isn’t facing anything catastrophic that precludes it from future success. Instead, the company faced more ordinary concerns, like unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates. Actually, the company logged several successes, which bode well for its future.
For one, Air Products announced a joint venture with AES Corporation to develop a green hydrogen production project in Texas. With an estimated daily production capacity of 200 metric tons, the project is expected to begin operations in 2027. Many companies are positioning themselves to take advantage of the burgeoning hydrogen economy. The joint venture with AES further positions Air Products as a leader in the movement.
For 40 consecutive years, Air Products has been hiking its distribution to investors, and it shows no sign of breaking that streak anytime soon. Should the company follow through with its plan to return $7.00 per share to investors in the form of dividends in 2023, it will represent a 10% compound annual growth rate in the distribution since 2014.