Despite all the headlines to the contrary, beware of dividend stocks right now. On the surface, dividend stocks look attractive at present, as falling rates make their yields look more attractive. However, picking the wrong ones can be very costly. For instance, the most commonly held high dividend stocks are from blue chips. The problem there is their growth is usually weak and they generally have weaker valuations than the market.
FINSUM: The wrong dividend stocks could go very badly in the current environment, so it will be wise to have a very particular strategy.
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.
Retirement income is such an important aspect of a financial advisor’s job, that one could reasonably argue it is the main duty of the profession. With that in mind, here are a couple ways to create lasting retirement income for clients. The first tip is simple, and every advisor should know it—delay claiming Social Security until 70, which significantly boosts annual income. Social Security is uniquely built to help protect against many of the risks of retirement, with one specialist saying “It’s indexed for inflation, it protects against longevity risk, and if the stock market crashes, it doesn’t go down”. The second part of this two-part strategy is to invest like one is still young. Since once is more hedged by greater Social Security income, one can afford to be more aggressive in markets.
FINSUM: This is a good basic strategy, though it requires working longer and a good degree of self-control.
The $36.6 bn Vanguard Dividend Growth fund (VDIGX) is finally reopening its doors to new investors. The fund has been closed to new investors for 3 years, but the manager says “After careful analysis of the fund’s current cash flows, we’re confident that there is ample capacity to reopen the fund”. The fund’s five-year annual return is 12.1%, besting the Russell 1000 by 1%. The fund’s average stock holding has a market cap of $110.6 bn, and its top five holdings are McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, American Tower, Medtronic, and Microsoft.
FINSUM: Vanguard funds are enormously popular for a reason, and this is an exceptionally well-performing fund that is finally reopening. Seems like a good buy.
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.
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.