Industrial automation is an area that can thrive regardless of how the economy looks. When times are good, companies are able to invest more in technology to put themselves ahead of the competition. When times are bad, companies look to get leaner - which means substituting human personnel for cost-saving factory automation systems. (Businesses facing the threat of closure quickly get religion on changes.)
With the threat of recession growing in 2019, industrial automation stocks may prove a great opportunity. In fact, the current market environment might prove doubly important for factory automation companies. Trade conflict, such as the one between the U.S. and China, can put pressure on manufacturers to move their operations - a costly process that entices companies to make their relocated facilities more cost-efficient.
As industry expert Rick Blaisdell has written, the next wave of industrial automation (as well as several other industries) is based on the "Internet of Things" - the interconnectivity of devices past traditional products such as computers and smartphones. IoT solutions using sensors, networks and software can help operate machines, improve quality control, cut down on analytical errors and enhance safety. Thus, many automation plays will be IoT plays, too.
Here are six top stocks to buy if you want to gain exposure to the potential all-weather opportunity of industrial automation.SEE ALSO: 20 Top Stock Picks the Analysts Love for 2019
Long-term income investors know that finding dividend stocks with decades of interrupted payments is only part of the winning formula for income investing. Dividend growth matters, too - which is exactly why investors cherish the Dividend Aristocrats.
Dividend Aristocrats are companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index that have hiked their dividends every year for at least 25 consecutive years. Rising dividends naturally make these stocks more attractive to new income investors, and steady payout hikes reward existing investors with increasingly higher yields on their shares' original buy-in cost.
Most importantly, regular dividend hikes fuel the magic of compounding. Indeed, many of the best stocks of all time have long histories of dividend growth.
Since reliable dividend stocks with growing payouts can provide some comfort amid market uncertainty, we took a look at the 11 Dividend Aristocrats with the longest histories of annual dividend increases. After all, when a dividend stock manages to raise its payout through good times and bad, decade after decade, you know management is making its income-reliant shareholders a top priority.SEE ALSO: The Kiplinger Dividend 15: Our Favorite Dividend-Paying Stocks