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.
Everyone has heard of the “Dogs of the Dow”, or the strategy of buying the laggards of the Dow. It is has been of the few highly successful value-based strategies over the last decade. If you have liked the Dogs of the Dow approach then check out “Fast Dogs”, which could be a good strategy. The idea is to buy the ten stocks with the fastest dividend growth in the Dow. The strategy has performed well in the last three years and just edged out the S&P 500’s performance (it is hard to track it further because dividend growth rate data is historically spotty). What will likely make this strategy successful is that companies with rising dividend growth are naturally signaling improvement and a brighter future, so an increasingly optimistic outlook is de facto. And of course, investors love dividends.
FINSUM: We like this idea. It would probably work better in rising rate markets, but generally speaking it seems like a smart approach in any environment.
The stock market is a tough game right now. Valuations are sky high and earnings are trending the wrong way, which makes picking any stock difficult. Even buying popular high-priced stocks isn’t a good plan when earnings are falling, which makes it seem as though there are few good options. With that in mind, consider buying cash cows like Facebook, Google, and Ford. With such good earnings prowess and free cash flow, these kinds of companies have the money to keep buying back shares, which should drive their valuations over time.
FINSUM: Cash cows can feed their own market pricing even in really rich markets, so this seems like a smart call.
If you are looking for dividends in this low rate world, you still have some good options. What about dividend growth stocks? They can be a nice investment in a low rate market, but where to look? Healthcare and tech stocks look like a great place. Analysts think dividends in those sectors will rise 10% and 9% respectively, handily outperforming dividend-focused sectors like utilities and REITs. Healthcare looks particularly healthy. Check out Abbvie (5.3% yield), Gilead 3.9%), Pfizer (3.9%), and Eli Lilly (2.2%).
FINSUM: Profits in healthcare have been ballooning and executives seem to be quite focused on returning money to shareholders.
The best thing an investor can do right now is to ignore all the market predictions being released for 2020. Every research department has to put out a prediction, and most of them are not worth the paper they are written on. So what does one do? Invest in dividend stocks. It is an important but preciously little known fact that the lowly dividend has historically accounted for 45% of all stock market returns. They are also tangible and predictable in a way stock prices are not, giving them a crucial place in a portfolio.
FINSUM: An additional stimulus for dividend stocks is that the aging population is hungry for them since bond yields are so anemic. Check out AT&T at 5.3%.