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Restaurant Brands International Inc (QSR)

A spicy chicken sandwich from Popeyes fast food restaurant.
Tony Prato/Shutterstock

Leading off the list is Restaurant Brands International, a fast-food holding company formed in 2014 by the merger between Burger King and Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons. In 2017, the company added Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen to its portfolio.

Like most restaurant stocks, Restaurant Brands shares tumbled during the pandemic-induced market sell-off in early 2020. But the stock has made a strong recovery, backed by substantial improvements in the company’s business. According to the latest earnings report, same-store sales — a key measure of a retailer’s health — increased 27.6%.

Adjusted earnings came in at US$0.77 per share for the quarter, more than double the US$0.33 per share it earned in the year-ago period. The amount easily covered the company’s quarterly dividend payment of US$0.53 per share.

Restaurant Brands is offering a healthy annual dividend yield of 3.4%. For comparison, that’s a higher yield than fast-food restaurant giants McDonald’s (2.26%), Starbucks (1.6%), and Yum! Brands (1.6%).

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Lowe’s Companies Inc (LOW)

Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse exterior.
Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

Lowe’s is Bill Ackman’s largest holding by market value, and the position has served the billionaire investor quite well. Shares of the home improvement retail giant are up 29% year to date. The S&P 500 has returned 16% over the same period.

What’s more impressive than Lowe’s near-term stock price performance is how the company’s dividend has grown over the years. In fact, Lowe’s has increased its payout to shareholders every year for the past 59 years. Those decades of hikes have brought Lowe’s quarterly dividend to US$0.80 per share, translating to an annual yield of 1.5%.

And its competitors are also dividend-paying companies: Home Depot yields 2.0%, Target pays 1.5%, while Walmart offers an annual yield of 1.6%. Due to Lowe’s rally over the past year, its shares now trade at over US$200. But you can get a piece of the company using a popular stock trading app that allows you to buy shares of big name stocks with no fees.

Agilent Technologies Inc (A)

Biotechnology scientist working in the lab

Agilent isn’t a household name, but is a force to be reckoned with within its own industry — providing bio-analyitical and electronic measurement solutions to a wide variety of industries including communications, life sciences and chemical analysis.

Headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., the company’s products are used by 265,000 labs around the world. In its fiscal 2020, Agilent brought in US$5.34 billion of total revenue. And in the most recent quarter, revenue grew 26% year-over-year to US$1.59 billion.

On the dividend front, Agilent offers an annual yield of 0.5%, which may not seem like much. But the company has an excellent track record when it comes to returning cash to investors: Since 2014, Agilent’s per share quarterly payout has increased by 106%.

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