From mounting tensions in Hong Kong to the unceasing U.S.-China trade tussle, things aren't looking up for the stock market. What's more, August has traditionally been one of the worst months for major indices.

Thus, in order to safeguard your portfolio, investing in dividend aristocrats seems prudent. After all, these stocks provide higher total returns with lower volatility.

Wall Street Braces for More Volatility

Rising unrest is weighing on investors' confidence throughout the globe. While Hong Kong authorities have cancelled an array of flights, China said that Hong Kong is now at a "critical juncture." Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong show no signs of tapering off and the change in mood has affected bourses worldwide, including the three main U.S. equity indexes.

Markets, by the way, have been plagued by U.S.-China trade tensions. Trump has said that a near-term deal with China on tariffs is unlikely anytime soon. He also said that he may cancel the upcoming September meeting of Sino-American trade negotiators.

Trump said that the United States might impose 10% tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese products starting Sep 1. The President aims to extract trade concessions from China on a wide range of issues, including intellectual property theft and currency manipulation.

Meanwhile, China let its currency value decline in order to make some Chinese goods cheaper and negate the effects of U.S. tariffs. China also retaliated by suspending purchases of American farm crops. And with the trade deal showing no signs of progress, the global economy is sure to get affected. In fact, financial behemoth The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. GS has warned that the U.S.-China trade war is raising the chances of a near-term recession.

August - One of the Weakest Months

August is one of the weakest months for major bourses, per the Stock Trader's Almanac. Since 1950, the Dow has lost 0.2% in the month. It's also the second worst month for the broader S&P 500. The large-cap index has usually seen a decline of around 0.1% over the course of August. The Nasdaq somehow manages to eke out gains of 0.1% in the month.

The only index that performs relatively well is the Russell 2000 index of small-capitalization shares. The index gains around 0.2% in August.

Sell in May and Go Away

Summer months, by the way, continue to be risky for Wall Street. This is due to the historical trend embodied by the phrase "sell in May and go away." Investors are encouraged to sell stock holdings in May to avoid getting affected by the seasonal decline in equity markets. The strategy also involves getting back into the equity markets in November, thereby evading the typically volatile May-October period. Traditionally, stocks have underperformed in the six-month period starting May and ending in October, compared to the six-month period from November to April.

The Dow, in particular, has returned only 0.3% in the May-October period since its inception, while its average gain in the November-April period has been 7.5%. Mostly lower trading volumes in the summer season and substantial increase in investments during the winter months are the main reasons behind the discrepancy in returns.

Buy These 5 Dividend Aristocrats Now

With things not going well for the stock market, it's prudent to invest in dividend aristocrats for risk-adjusted returns. These companies boast a solid financial structure, healthy underlying fundamentals and are unperturbed by market volatility. This category of stocks also outperforms other dividend payers backed by better-quality business.

Hence, we have selected five dividend aristocrats to boost your returns. These stocks also possess a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). The favorable Zacks Rank should help the stocks gain further this year and beyond as well.

Walmart Inc. WMT engages in retail and wholesale operations. The company's first dividend was 5 cents a share, paid in 1974. The company's expected earnings growth rate for the next year is 4.6%.

Kimberly-Clark Corporation KMB manufactures and markets personal care, consumer tissue, and professional products. The company has raised its dividend for 47 consecutive years. The company's expected earnings growth rate for the current and next quarter is 4.7% and 4.4%, respectively.

McCormick & Company, Incorporated MKC manufactures, markets, and distributes spices, seasoning mixes, condiments, and other flavorful products in the food industry. The company has paid dividends each year since 1925. The company's expected earnings growth rate for the next quarter and current year is 4.2% and 6.8%, respectively.

PepsiCo, Inc . PEP operates as a food and beverage company. It has bumped up its dividend payout for 46 years in a row. The company's expected earnings growth rate for the next year is nearly 8%.

Cintas Corporation CTAS provides corporate identity uniforms and related business services. It is a high-growth dividend stock. It has raised its dividend payout for 35 years in a row. The company's expected earnings growth rate for the current quarter and year is 10.9% and 11.2%, respectively. 

Walmart, Kimberly-Clark, McCormick & Company, PepsiCo and Cintas have a growth rate of 15.2%, 21.4%, 17.4%, 16.4% and 56.8%, respectively, so far this year. Take a look -

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