The 59 stocks that make up the Canadian dividend aristocrats are a good starting point for investors who are hunting for yield.  These stocks must have increased their dividends for at least five consecutive years to make the aristocrats list.

Becoming a dividend aristocrat shows that company management is committed – for better or worse – to giving money back to shareholders.  The benchmark is much less difficult to achieve in Canada than in the U.S., where it takes 25 consecutive years of dividend growth to make the cut.

Related: Why U.S. Stocks Are Safer Than Canadian Stocks

Bear in mind that the past five years still includes 2008-2009, a period when many dividend stocks, including stalwarts like the big banks, did not increase distributions in the wake of the global financial crisis.

That said, the dividend aristocrats list didn’t see much of a shake-up this year, with five new additions (CAE Inc., Evertz Technologies, Laurentian Bank, Major Drilling Group, and Stella Jones Inc.) and just two companies removed from the list (Fairfax Financial, and Kinross Gold).

Canadian Dividend Aristocrats 2013 List

Here are the 59 companies that make up the Canadian Dividend Aristocrats, along with their current dividend yield, and the number of years of consecutive dividend increases.

Symbol Company Years of Div increases Current yield
FTS FORTIS INC. 39 4.01%
CU CANADIAN UTILITIES LTD. 30 2.71%
CWB CANADIAN WESTERN BANK 21 2.32%
TRI THOMSON REUTERS CORP. 19 3.79%
ACO.X ATCO LTD. 19 1.66%
ESI ENSIGN ENERGY SERVICES INC. 18 2.50%
MRU METRO INC. 18 1.55%
EMP.A EMPIRE CO. LTD. 18 1.39%
IMO IMPERIAL OIL LTD. 18 1.08%
ENB ENBRIDGE INC. 17 3.01%
CNR CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY 17 1.62%
AGF.B A.G.F. MANAGEMENT 15 8.55%
HCG HOME CAPITAL GROUP 14 1.53%
SAP SAPUTO INC. 13 1.71%
TRP TRANSCANADA CORP. 12 4.17%
SNC SNC-LAVALIN GROUP 12 2.06%
CNQ CANADIAN NATURAL RESOURCES 12 1.55%
REF.U CANADIAN REIT 11 4.09%
TCL.A TRANSCONTINENTAL INC. 11 3.77%
FTT FINNING INTERNATIONAL 11 2.57%
CCL.B CCL INDUSTRIES INC. 11 1.24%
SJR.B SHAW COMMUNICATIONS 10 4.13%
CJR.B CORUS ENTERTAINMENT INC. 10 4.08%
RBA RITCHIE BROS AUCTIONEERS 10 2.59%
PSI PASON SYSTEMS INC. 10 2.31%
SU SUNCOR ENERGY INC. 10 2.18%
CCO CAMECO CORP COM 10 2.13%
T TELUS CORP. 9 4.03%
CMG COMPUTER MODELLING GRP. 9 3.01%
CCA COGECO CABLE INC. 9 2.10%
CP CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY 9 1.09%
RCI.B ROGERS COMMUNICATIONS 8 3.93%
IFC INTACT FINANCIAL CORP. 8 2.82%
SCL SHAWCOR LTD. 8 1.14%
SJ STELLA-JONES INC. 8 0.73%
BDT BIRD CONSTRUCTION INC. 7 6.02%
THI TIM HORTONS INC. 7 1.77%
EMA EMERA INC. 6 4.74%
ET EVERTZ TECHNOLOGIES LTD. 6 3.51%
CSU CONSTELLATION SOFTWARE 6 2.28%
PJC.A JEAN COUTU GROUP 6 1.84%
LB LAURENTIAN BANK 5 4.45%
MDI MAJOR DRILLING GROUP INT. 5 2.73%
CAE CAE INC 5 1.80%
EIF EXCHANGE INCOME CORP. 3 7.71%
NPR.U NORTHERN PROPERTY REIT 3 5.84%
DII.B DOREL INDUSTRIES INC. 3 3.40%
IGM IGM FINANCIAL INC. 2 4.48%
BNS BANK OF NOVA SCOTIA 2 4.21%
TD TORONTO-DOMINION BANK 2 3.40%
SC SHOPPERS DRUG MART 2 1.92%
MX METHANEX CORP. 2 1.54%
CTC.A CANADIAN TIRE CORP. 2 1.53%
AFN AG GROWTH INTERNATIONAL 1 5.95%
ENF ENBRIDGE INCOME FUND 1 5.71%
CGX CINEPLEX INC. 1 3.67%
KEY KEYERA CORP. 1 4.18%
RET.A REITMANS (CANADA) n/a 10.82%
TLM TALISMAN ENERGY INC. n/a 2.22%

iShares Dividend Aristocrat ETF – CDZ

It can be a daunting task to comb through 59 companies to find a stock worth owning.  In that case, consider the iShares ETF, CDZ, which tracks the Canadian dividend aristocrats index listed above and uses the following criteria to qualify:

  1. Must be common stock or income trust listed on the TSX and in the S&P Canada Broad Market Index (BMI);
  2. Must have increased dividends every year for five years, but can maintain the same dividend for a maximum of two consecutive years within that 5-year period;
  3. Must have a minimum $300 million market capitalization.

I measure my own portfolio of individual stocks against the performance of CDZ because I use a similar strategy of buying and holding dividend growth stocks.  Unlike the rigid formula that CDZ uses to select stocks, I use my own judgement to decide which dividend stocks to buy and hold.

Related: Should You Buy A Dividend ETF?

I want to avoid the dogs (see AGF and Reitmans); companies with high dividend payout ratios that have increased dividends at the expense of growing their business, and may now be in financial trouble.  By rule CDZ cannot exclude these types of companies and so its performance may suffer because of a few bad apples.

CDZ has a management expense ratio of 0.66 percent.  The average annual return for CDZ since inception in 2007 is 6.32 percent.  Its worst year was 2008 when it lost 30.49 percent, and its best year was in 2009 when it gained 38.2 percent.  Year-to-date in 2013 the fund has returned 6.18 percent.  In comparison, my own portfolio is up 7.07 percent so far this year.

Investors will get a monthly distribution of about 6.6 cents per month, which works out to a 3.45 percent yield.

For all the talk about how the Canadian stock market is poorly diversified, CDZ is reasonably balanced in that respect.  Financials make up 22 percent of the fund, industrials make up 20 percent, consumer discretionary stocks make up 17 percent, and energy stocks make up 16 percent of the fund.

That’s a stark contrast to the other iShares dividend ETF, XDV, where financials make up 53 percent of its holdings.

Final thoughts

I use the dividend aristocrats index as a starting point for my research on which dividend stocks to buy.  I’m not a fan of the 5-year measuring stick for increasing dividends – instead I prefer a longer track record of dividend growth and solid share performance.

Related: 6 Reasons To Buy Dividend Growth Stocks

Using a dividend ETF like CDZ makes sense if you don’t want to build a portfolio of individual stocks.  Just keep in mind some of the limitations of the fund that I described above and know that your distributions are not guaranteed to increase each year, even though the fund holds dividend growth stocks.  That’s because the holdings may change from year-to-year and that when a high yield stock like AGF is forced to cut or hold its dividend, they’ll be removed from the list and may be replaced by a lower yield dividend growth stock, like Saputo, for example.

The bottom line: if you’re a dividend investor then you should check out the dividend aristocrat list, either to get ideas for your portfolio of individual stocks or to get your dividend fix with an ETF like CDZ.


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