Nothing is more supportive of stock price over the long term than institutional buying. Institutions represent trillions of dollars of investible money and can produce strong tailwinds (or headwinds) for the market. The institutional tide has shifted due to the impacts of rising inflation, rising interest rates, the cost of business and the outlook for growth. They have shifted into dividend growth stocks like Keurig Dr Pepper Inc. (NASDAQ: KDP), VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC) and Kimberly-Clark Corp. (NYSE: KMB).
Keurig Dr Pepper: A Well-Diversified Defensive Play
Keurig Dr Pepper was called out by Wedbush Securities as a well-diversified play on beverages when it initiated coverage with an "outperform" rating. The firm says market trends favor nonalcoholic beverages and snacks over other food and beverage groups and issued similar upgrades for PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP) and The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO). This is in line with the institutional trends, which have total institutional ownership up to 52% and growing. Institutions have been buying shares of KDP for the last several years and have netted shares for the last two consecutive quarters and for 10 of the last 12.
Keurig Dr Pepper also pays a nice 2.15% dividend yield which may be more attractive than PepsiCo or The Coca-Cola Company for long-term buy-and-hold investors. Not only is the company’s payout ratio much lower at 48% compared to 68% to 70% for its competitors, but the outlook for growth is more robust as well. Both KO and PEP will continue raising dividends, which they have done for 59 and 49 years, respectively. They are increasing at lower rates than what may be expected out of KDP over the coming years.
Kimberly-Clark Corporation: A Comfortable 4.15% Yield
Kimberly-Clark Corp. makes tissue and personal care products and pays a comfortable 4.15% dividend. You'll find relative safety because the company is on track to become a Dividend King this year, when it makes its 49th consecutive annual dividend increase. The payout ratio is a bit high, at 82%, but it's a dividend grower with a long history. Kimberly-Clark's balance sheet and cash flow can sustain the payment. Institutions have been net buyers of this stock for the last five consecutive quarters and have the ownership up to 74.3% and rising.
Analysts rate the stock a "hold," but if you dig into the data, the consensus sentiment and price target (which implies a 15% upside) are both down in the 12-, three-, and one-month comparisons but are firming due to a very recent upgrade. Strength in the consumer staples sector has bled into the Kimberly-Clark sentiment and resulted in a double upgrade to "overweight" from "neutral" by Atlantic Securities.
VF Corporation: A High-Yield Winner
VF Corporation’s latest earnings report was lackluster at best but reveals underlying strength in the business and cash flow, including enough strength to support the 7% dividend payment and the outlook for dividend growth. VF Corporation is also on track to become a Dividend King and should make its next increase with the next declaration, although it won’t likely be a large one. The company has been increasing by a penny quarterly over the past few years which amounts to 2% growth this year. Institutions buy the stock regardless of its tepid growth outlook, however, and have up to 87% ownership at this time.