Displaying items by tag: buybacks
Income investors have been frightened by the extent to which the current Coronavirus downturn is going to cause an economic downturn and thus a big cut to dividends. The only good news on this front recently has been that companies are suspending buybacks before dividends. In assessing the damage, Goldman Sachs says overall dividend payouts are going to be slashed by 25% this year. That figure includes a 38% fall for the next nine months added to the 9% rise in dividends in the first quarter.
FINSUM: This is big, but it would be far from catastrophic levels.
Anyone paying any attention to the economy or markets knows dividends are in trouble. With the economy set to shrink 30% in Q2 and a likely big negative growth number for the year, companies are going to have a very hard time maintaining profitability and dividend levels. With that said, here are some stocks that should have safe dividends. Texas Instruments and CVS both look attractive, yielding 3.6% currently, as does Intel (which yields 2.5%).
FINSUM: The brightest news for investors is that many companies have announced a suspension of buybacks but have plans to maintain their dividend, so there should still be some decent income.
In what comes as a very worrying announcement for investors, Goldman Sachs has just said that it may be time to cash out of equities. Goldman says that the current mass rotation out of equities and into bonds mirrors what happened before the Crisis. “Decelerating US economic growth, trade and geopolitical uncertainty, and near-record high starting equity allocations have likely contributed to the rotation from equities to bonds and cash this year”, says Goldman. Any steadiness in equities will probably just be artificial. “The peak in buyback activity arrived in 2018 after the Trump administration’s tax cut fueled a wave of repurchase programs. Buybacks are projected to fall 15% in 2019, and drop another 5% in the following year”, Goldman said.
FINSUM: In principle this seems like a sound assessment. The problem is that all the worries Goldman is citing have been on the table for a while and yet stocks have been rising.
Retail investors are fleeing the stock market, yet it keeps rising. What gives? Bernstein Research just studied this situation and had some interesting findings. Firstly, retail investors’ rotation of out stock funds and into bond funds has been the largest in history, with $1.1 tn flowing out of stocks and into bonds in the last 12 months. Secondly, they found that none of that really matters given the current state of markets, which are being driven by buybacks and M&A. Finally, they found that such outflows are usually a very bullish sign and they generally signal over-pessimism and have often been followed by great returns.
FINSUM: This seems like a very solid counter indicator that things might start turning more positive.
Buyback stocks have developed a poor reputation recently. Stock buybacks are seen as financially irresponsible and a way for executives to manipulate earnings and share prices. While that may be true to a degree, they also happen to be a great way for companies to return money to shareholders. Additionally, and what is not well understood, is that buyback stocks have a great track record historically. Since 1995, the one hundred S&P 500 stocks with the highest level of buybacks have significantly outperformed the index, earning a 13% return versus the index’s 10%. The same is true for the Russell 3000, so it is not just a case of buybacks working for large caps.
FINSUM: Yes, buybacks may be at their highest total levels historically, but they are flat as a percentage of earnings, so buying hasn’t been any less conservative than in the past. The other good thing is that buyback stocks are usually cheaper than average.