Eq: Large Cap
It has been forecasted for some time, but now it is finally happening—US banks are hiking dividends. After getting the all clear from regulators after successful stress tests, US banks are beginning to hike their dividends. For instance, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup hiked their dividends by 13%+ recently, with both now yielding 2.5% or over. Bank stocks have been beat up over the last year, with Morgan Stanley down 10%, for instance.
FINSUM: On the one hand, bank stocks looked undervalued and now have attractive yields. On the other, if you think we are headed towards a slowdown, then it is not a good time to buy financial shares.
One of the oldest form of analysis of the Dow is sending a pretty grave signal at the moment. The Dow Theory, which has been around for more than a century, contend that if the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the Dow Jones Transportation Average reaches a new high, the other must follow quickly in order to confirm a bullish outlook. Well, despite the core index’s gain, the Transportation Average has been lagging badly, sliding 3.59% in a single day last week.
FINSUM: Okay a couple thoughts here. The first is that the structure of the economy is different now, such that the relationship between growth and Transportation is not the same as it has been over the last century. Outside that though, logistics tends to expand at multiples of underlying growth, so this still feels worrisome.
Are you looking for a good dividend stock? Well, we have one for you. How about a stock that has risen 27% this year yet still has a 4% dividend yield and a very solid business? If that sounds good, take a look at Prudential Financial. The company is an asset manager and insurance provider, and has solid growth and financials and seeks to be financially prudent. “We believe in a very consistent and regular dividend that will be aligned with our earnings growth, says the CFO. The company has expected earnings growth of 8% this year.
FINSUM: Prudential is a pretty sleepy name, but there is nothing boring about a 4% dividend combined with earnings growth and market-beating price appreciation.
American investors seem almost conditioned to ignore the rest of the world. Over the last decade that has been a pretty good plan as the US recovery and markets have had a Teflon coating that resisted global downturns. However, rates market in Europe is sending some grave warning signals. Try this on for size: several European junk bonds are now trading at negative yields. Yes, you read that correctly, investors are paying for the privilege of holding junk in Europe.
FINSUM: This is not some ultra-safe Germany sovereign bond that has negative yields. We are talking run-of-the-mill EU junk bonds having negative yields. That is a big warning sign.
Ever since the stock market’s then peak in January 2018, bonds and stock have had a very close relationship. Equities have been tracking the performance of the investment grade bond sector. When yields rose late last year, stocks plummeted. The opposite is happening this year, and in that change lays a predicament for shares. Yields have fallen so deeply this year, and equity prices risen so high, that it appears unlikely stocks can rise much further as the benefits of lower rates have already been fully priced in.
FINSUM: While we are generally incredulous of these types of arguments, we cannot help but feel a confluence of circumstances (an earnings recession not the least of them) are coming together in such a way that equities seem likely to have a correction.
A year ago, the FAANGs were flying high. In the previous twelve months they had risen 52% against the market’s 13% growth. The group of tech stocks has since suffered, underperforming the S&P 500 in the last year. In fact, a group of very conservative stocks have been leading the way. Call them the “WPPCK” (not as catchy, we know), which is comprised of Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Pepsico, Costco, and Coca-Cola. This group has risen 27.1% in the last year versus the S&P 500’s 7.2% gain and the FAANGs’ 5.7%.
FINSUM: It is hard to imagine a less flashy group of stocks than these, but they have been strong and steady, which seems like a good formula for this unpredictable market.