Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dividend Aristocrats Significantly Outperform S&P 500 Index Through July

Preliminary performance results for Standard & Poor's Dividend Aristocrats through July show the Aristocrats continue to have a performance edge over the S&P 500 Index. Through the first seven months of the year, the total return for the Aristocrats equals -6.40% versus the S&P 500 Index return of -13.70%.

As detailed in the table below, in the four weeks ending July 31st, 2008, the Aristocrats outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Index by nearly 300 basis points. In that same 4-week period though, the NASDAQ Index did squeeze out a small performance advantage.

S&P dividend aristocrats performance as of July 31, 2008A complete list of the Aristocrats and related performance data is contained in the following spreadsheet. The full spreadsheet can be accessed at this link.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

S&P 500 Company Sales Increasingly International

Standard & Poor's reported the percentage of 2007 sales for S&P 500 companies that come from foreign countries has increased since 2006 to 45.8% versus 43.6%, respectively. S&P included data from 251 companies that have full reporting information.

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s&p 500 foreign sales chart 2003-2007
The report notes some country breakdowns:
  • European sales represented 28.8% of their foreign sales, with 4.6% coming from the United Kingdom
  • Asian sales represented 16.8%
  • Africa sales represented 6.8%
  • South America represented 3.7%

One issue worth watching is the impact a stronger dollar would have on U.S. multinational firms' earnings.

S&P: Foreign Sales by U.S. Companies Continue to Rise (PDF)
Standard & Poor's
By: Howard Silverblatt and Dave Guarino
July 30, 2008,3,2,2,1204838219808.html

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Market Climbs A Wall Of Worry

Seems like the more negative the news on any given day, the higher the market wants to go.

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S&P 500 Index chart July 29, 2008
  • After the close yesterday, Merrill Lynch (MER) announced it would sell most of its collateral debt obligations ($30 billion) for 22 cents on the dollar. Merrill's stock prices rises nearly 8% today to $26.35.
  • Standard & Poor's reported today that the Case-Shiller Home Price Index fell over 15% in May.
Case-Shiller Home Price Index Chart for May 2008
  • The Wall Street Journal carries another editorial on Barack Obama's tax plan. Barack Obama's plan could be enough to send the economy into a deep recession by raising the highest marginal tax rate to 62.8% versus the current 44.6%.
  • On July 31st, The Wall Street Journal had an editorial on the percentage of taxes paid by taxpayers based on income levels. Historically, raising taxes on the top 50% of taxpayers has been detrimental to the economy and stock market.
Could last week have signaled the beginning of a market uptrend?


Record Low Annual Declines Recorded in May 2008 for
the S&P/Case-Shiller Composite Home Price Indices (PDF)

Standard & Poor's
By: David Blitzer and David Guarino
July 29, 2008,0,0,0,1204838123979.html

Obamanomics Is a Recipe for Recession
The Wall Street Journal
By: Michael J. Boskin
July 29, 2009

Their Fair Share
The Wall Street Journal
July 21, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Some Positives In Today's Market Decline

Since the S&P 500 Index reached 1,200 on an intraday basis on July 15th, the index pretty much ran unimpeded to 1,291 on July 24th. This 7.6% advance in a little over a week certainly warranted some consolidation. A large part of the market's advance had been due to a strong rebound in financials.

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XLF index chart July 28, 2008

As the below index chart notes, maybe this is simply a little profit taking or lightening up of positions in financials due to their recent strong performance. The shorter term index chart below seems to indicate the market is still in a small upward trend channel.

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S&P 500 index chart July 28, 2008 four months
On a longer term basis, the index remains in a downtrend; however the index could be moving to the upper resistance around 1,320.

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S&P 500 Index chart July 28, 2008 three years
Lastly, the market decline over the past four trading days has occurred on lower volume as evidenced by the second chart. Maybe this bear market is losing its legs.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Are Stocks A Good Hedge Against Inflation?

(I originally posted the following article on The DIV-Net website on July 20, 2008)

Much has been written about inflation and its impact on stock prices. A common question that arises is whether or not stocks are a good hedge against inflation. The accurate question that should be asked is whether inflation expectations impact stock prices.

A recent New York Times article, Inflation? Stick With Stocks, began with the question: " inflation bad for stocks?" Then answered the question: "The simple answer is, not necessarily." The research notes the real question should be more specific and centered around the anticipated future direction of inflation.

In a strategy article by John P. Hussman, Ph.D. of the Hussman Funds, he notes:
In short, looking at the historical data, we do observe that low trailing inflation rates have been associated with high P/E ratios, and that high trailing inflation rates have been associated with low P/E ratios. But – and this is crucial – we still find that those P/E ratios led to exactly the long-term consequences you would expect. High P/E ratios were associated with poor long-term returns, while low P/E ratios were associated with elevated long-term returns (emphsis added)...

What's really going on is that when inflation rates have been low, investors have had a historical tendency to overprice stocks on the basis of excessive optimism. When inflation rates have been high, investors have had a tendency underprice stocks on the basis of excessive pessimism.

If this “mispricing” interpretation is true, we would expect to find that high one-year rates of inflation have actually been related to high subsequent long-term rates of return, and low rates of year-over-year inflation have actually been related to poor subsequent long-term rates of return.
Dr. Hussman notes in his article the above relationship did prove to be true. What he found was high inflation periods were usually followed by high returns but lower inflation. And, low inflation periods were generally followed by poor returns but somewhat higher inflation.

Additional support was found in an article by Frank Reilly, The Impact of Inflation on ROE, Growth and Stock Prices (PDF). A key summary of the Reilly article was the importance of investors to focus on inflation expectations. I would recommend investors read both the Hussman article and the Reilly article given the level of current inflation. The Reilly article ties his analysis in with the Dividend Discount Model and the Dupont formula. The Reilly article does conclude:
...the negative impact of inflation of the implied growth rate is confirmed, which helps explain why investigators find consistent empirical results that common stocks are poor inflation hedges.
Just because the rate of inflation is high does not necessarily indicate future stock price returns will be negative. On the contrary, it is the direction of future inflation that has an impact on stock price returns. Consequently, if the trend in future inflation is down (i.e., the second derivative is negative) then stock prices could move higher. The New York Times article notes:
According to Ibbotson Associates, in 1980, the Consumer Price Index rose by more than 12 percent, but stocks still gained more than 32 percent. Why? Perhaps because in 1979 inflation was even higher, at more than 13 percent.
In conclusion, in these tough times in the market, stock price returns will be impacted by events happening in the future and not by those that have already occurred. From an emotional standpoint, it is easy to let ones feelings for future stock expectations get clouded by past events. Being able to overcome these past influences is important in achieving positive investment returns.

Inflation, Correlation, and Market Valuation
Hussman Funds
By: John P. Hussman, Ph.D.
May 29, 2007

The Impact of Inflation on ROE, Growth and Stock Prices (PDF)
Financial Services Review
Frank K. Reilly

Inflation? Stick With Stocks
The New York Times
By: Paul J. Lim
June 8, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fortune Brands Increases Dividend 4.8%

Today, Fortune Brands (FO) announced a 4.8% year over year increase in the company's third quarter dividend. The new quarterly dividend of 44 cents per share compares to 42 cents per share in the same quarter last year.
  • The 5-year historical dividend growth rate is approximately 6%.
  • The estimated payout ratio increases to 40% based on year end 2008 estimated earnings of $4.37.
  • The 5-year average payout ratio is approximately 30%.
  • The company carries a S&P Quality Ranking of B.
(click on table/chart for larger image)

Fortune Brands Dividend Analysis Table July 25, 2008

Fortune Brands stock chart Juy 25, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bullish Sentiment Inches Higher

The American Association of Individual Investors' Sentiment Survey released this week shows a continued increase in bullish investor sentiment. The bullish sentiment level increased to 35.8% versus last week's reading of 25%. The bull/bear spread narrowed to -8% from last week's spread of 33%.

Why pay attention to sentiment indicators? An old Wall Street saying goes something like:

"the crowd is right in the trends and wrong at the ends"

(click on chart for larger image)

More information on the application of sentiment indicators can be found at the Investment U website and the article Investor Sentiment Indicators.

Dividend Rate On S&P 500 Index Cut

Standard & Poor's announced they were reducing the expected 2008 dividend rate on the S&P 500 Index to $28.85 versus the original expected rate of $30.30. The new 2008 dividend estimate remains 4% higher than the 2007 rate of $27.73.

Howard Silverblatt, Senior Index Analyst at Standard & Poor's notes:
"Already this year, 20 Financials have decreased their dividend payments compared to just 12 over the past five years. As a result, the 4% expected increase in S&P 500 dividend payments for 2008 will be the lowest growth rate since 2002 when payments were up 2.1%.

Standard & Poor’s data also shows that despite the cuts, Financials continue to contribute the lion’s share of dividends. While the Financials sector makes up 15.7% of the market, it contributes 25.5% of the dividends."

S&P Decreases Expected 2008 Dividend Payment for the S&P 500 (PDF)
Standard & Poor's
By: David Guarino and Howard Silverblatt
July 24, 2008

Schwab And Anheuser Busch Increase Dividend

Both Charles Schwab (SCHW) and Anheuser Busch (BUD) announced dividend increases this week.

Charles Schwab

Schwab's new quarterly dividend of 6 cents per share is a 20% increase over the 5 cents per share dividend paid in the same quarter last year. The 5-year dividend growth rate for the company is approximately 24%. This rate of growth does not include the $1.00 special dividend paid by the company in the third quarter of 2007. The projected payout ratio is approximately 22% based on 2008 estimated earnings per share of $1.09. The 5-year average payout ratio is 16%. Schwab has a S&P Quality Ranking of B+.

Anheuser Busch

The Anheuser Busch quarterly dividend increases to 37 cents per share versus 33 cents per share in the same quarter last year. This represents a 12% year over year increase and is greater than the company's 5-year average dividend growth rate of 8%. The projected payout ratio is approximately 47% based on 2008 estimated earnings per share of $3.13. The 5-year average payout ratio is 40%. BUD has a S&P Quality Ranking of A+. Investors should note Anheuser Busch has an agreement with InBev NV (INTB.BR) whereby InBev acquires BUD for $70 per share in cash. The deal is expected to close by year end.

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dividend Schwab and Anheuser Busch analysis table July 24, 2008
Schwab stock chart July 24, 2008
Anheuser Busch stock chart July 24, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wachovia Rallies On Another Dividend Cut

Wachovia (WB) announced a second dividend cut of the year on Wednesday and what happens--the stock spikes higher by 27% or $3.61 to $16.79. The company indicated the third quarter dividend would be reduced to 5 cents per share versus the second quarter dividend of 37.5 cents per share. The dividend totaled 64 cents per share in the third quarter of last year. The reduced dividend will conserve about $700 million of capital per quarter.

In today's earnings release, Wachovia said it would loss $8.9 billion as a result of a $6.1 billion impairment charge. A large portion of the charge is related to a $5.6 billion addition to the loan loss reserve.

Given the upward price action in bank stocks late in the day Wednesday and the decline in oil prices (USO), could we be seeing a rotation out of many energy stocks into the beaten up financial sector?

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Wachovia stock chart July 22, 2008
Financial sector SPDR chart July 22, 2008
United States Oil Fund stock chart July 22, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Washington Needs To Trim The Fat

I generally do not write about politics, but a recent article in the Wall Street Journal was too interesting not to comment on. Barack Obama has stated he wants to raise taxes on the rich so they pay their fair share. Following is the breakdown of the taxes paid by taxpayers in 2006. Not sure how one gets more tax dollars out of the top 50% of taxpayers without shutting down the economy.
  • 1% of taxpayers, those who earn above $388,806, paid 40% of all income taxes in 2006, the highest share in at least 40 years.
  • The top 10% in income, those earning more than $108,904, paid 71% of all income taxes.
  • The top 50% paid 97.1% of all income taxes.
  • The number of Americans who declared adjusted gross income of more than $1 million from 2003 to 2006 nearly doubled to 354,000 from 181,000 in a mere three years after the tax cuts.

    This is precisely what supply-siders predicted would happen with lower tax rates on capital gains, dividends and income. The economy and earnings would grow faster, which they did; investors would declare more capital gains and companies would pay out more dividends, which they did; the rich would invest less in tax shelters at lower tax rates, so their tax payments would rise, which did happen.

  • Taxes paid by millionaire households more than doubled to $274 billion in 2006 from $136 billion in 2003. No President has ever plied more money from the rich than George W. Bush did with his 2003 tax cuts.
If Mr. Obama does succeed in raising tax rates on the rich, we'd also wager that the rich share of tax payments would fall. The last time tax rates were as high as the Senator wants them -- the Carter years -- the rich paid only 19% of all income taxes, half of the 40% share they pay today. Why? Because they either worked less, earned less, or they found ways to shelter income from taxes so it was never reported to the IRS as income.
Maybe Washington needs to look at cutting their expenses before raising taxes on their constituents. You can't get blood out of a turnip.

Their Fair Share
Opinion Journal
The Wall Street Journal
July 21, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dividends Have A Signaling Effect

I recently ran across an article by David Merkel, CFA of The Aleph Blog. The article is titled, Thinking About Dividends.

One portion of the article notes the important aspects of using a dividend growth discipline in evaluating stocks. One of those aspects is the impact on company financial ratios from a company trying to maintain a certain level of dividend or a certain dividend growth rate. Management at dividend oriented firms know investors own the company's stock due to the dividend and its growth rate. Consequently, management and boards attempt to do a great deal to maintain historical dividend practices. As a result, if a company's business prospects are faltering, management may take on more debt to pay a dividend (leverage ratios increase), the dividend payout ratio may be trending higher and cash flow may be declining. These are some red flags that may warn an investor of difficult times ahead for the company and its stock.

David Merkel's article notes:
Dividends have a signaling effect. They teach management teams a number of salutary things:
  • Equity capital has a cash cost.
  • Be prudent risk takers, because we want to raise the dividend if possible, and avoid lowering it, except as a last resort.
  • Focus on free cash flow generation. Be wary of projects that promise amazing returns, but will require continual investment.
  • Be efficient at using capital generated from free cash flow. The dividend forces management teams to do only the most productive capital projects. Increasing the dividend is alternative use of capital that must be considered.
  • Dividends keep management team honest in ways that buybacks don’t. Buybacks can quietly be suspended, but in the American context, a dividend is a commitment.

Now, if you are going to use dividend yields as a part of your strategy, you need to pay attention to two things:

  • Payout ratios, and
  • Growth of the dividend is more important than its size.
The Merkel article contains additional factors surrounding dividend growth investing that makes it a worthwhile read.

Thinking About Dividends
The Aleph Blog
By: David Merkel, CFA
July 20, 2008

Unloved Stocks Outperform?

(I originally posted the following article on The DIV-Net on July 13, 2008)

As they often say about real estate investing, one does not make money in real estate when it is sold, but when the real estate is purchased. The point in this statement is the profit is really determined based on the price paid for the real estate. In other words--don't over pay. Many real estate investors are finding this axiom true today. Well, what about stocks that are unloved by the so called investing experts?

The CXO Advisory Group website highlighted findings from a research report titled Stocks of Admired Companies and Despised Ones by Deniz Anginer, Kenneth Fisher and Meir Statman. In short, the study's authors tested whether the top companies in Fortune magazine's list of America's Most Admired Companies underperformed the companies that ranked in the bottom of the list. The following table taken from the study summarizes some of the findings.

Difference between the return of Industry-Adjusted Despised and Admired
portfolios during the ten years: April 1983 – March 2006.

In short, the CXO Advisory article notes:
...the stocks of companies least admired by the ostensibly well-informed may well outperform the stocks of the companies most admired.
More detail from the above noted study is outlined in the CXO Advisory article.

As Old School Value's post last Saturday noted, All Intelligent Investing IS Value Investing,
Value investing...revolves around paying less or a fair amount to [a company's] real value, referred to as intrinsic value...
I think Charles Kirk of The Kirk Report recently said it best in his post titled Your Comfort Zone:

"High achievers (in life and in the market) frequently step outside their comfort zone. That’s the way they learn and make progress. At the same time, they also expect to fail (more often than not), but do not see failure or mistakes they make as problems, but as educational experiences.

The natural instinct of all of us is to seek safety and shelter, unfortunately at the exact same time when we should be aggressive and risk tolerant. Those who do well in the market understand this natural human tendency and they consistently work against it when others are doing the exact opposite.

The key for today is to first understand what your comfort zone is and then take a step outside of it. Remember, the market doesn’t reward comfort and decisions that “feel” good to make. That’s the law of nature and it is true of this market like any other."

Buy Stocks of Companies Experts Hate?
CXO Advisory Group, LLC
February 14, 2007

Stocks of Admired Companies and Despised Ones
By: Deniz Anginer, Kenneth Fisher and Meir Statman
February 2007

Your Comfort Zone
The Kirk Report
By: Charles Kirk
July 8, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Risk Tolerance And The Estate Plan

The recent sell off in the stock market has investors reevaluating their investment risk tolerance. Beyond ones investment risk tolerance, all investor should ensure they include this evaluation within an overall financial plan. A key aspect of the financial plan is establishing a comprehensive estate plan.

Setting up an estate plan can be a difficult undertaking because some aspects of the estate plan deal with events that take place upon ones death. A recent article in the American Association of Individual Investors, Reassessing Your Risk Tolerance? Don't Overlook Estate Planning, notes:
[estate planning] provides peace of mind that your assets will pass according to your wishes at the least cost and administrative burden. Whatever one's reasons for taking the risk of not planning, there is no doubt that it is a risk that one should not take.
A key aspect of an estate plan is having a properly executed will. The will identifies how some assets are transferred upon ones death. Not having a will can result in the state determining how your assets are distributed after your death. Not many people want the state involved in these type of personal decisions. Additionally, assets can be transferred outside of a will via stipulations in assets like IRAs, 401(k)s and life insurance contracts.

The AAII article details six simple questions one can address in constructing an estate plan:
  1. Identify the goals,
  2. Gather the data and make assumptions,
  3. Evaluate the feasibility of your goals,
  4. Develop your strategies,
  5. Implement the decisions, and
  6. Review your progress.
The conclusion of the AAII article notes, "once you have recognized the risks of not having an estate plan, and how relatively simple it can be to establish one, then perhaps you will be motivated to go through the process outlined above. At a minimum, a will and powers of attorney, coordinated with the proper titling of assets and beneficiary designations, can help you to administer your assets during life and at death..."

To find out more detail on an overall financial plan, I wrote a post mid year last year, Financial Planning Toolkit from CCH, that highlights a free website with information on overall financial planning. Included in the CCH website is the topic of estate planning.

Reassessing Your Risk Tolerance? Don't Overlook Estate Planning
American Association of Individual Investors
By: Ellen J. Boling, CFP

Friday, July 18, 2008

Stanley Works Tacks On Another Dividend Increase

Stanley Works (SWK) announced a 3.2% increase in the company's third quarter dividend. The new quarterly dividend will be 32 cents per share versus 31 cents per share in the same quarter last year. This represents the fifth year in a row the quarterly dividend has been increased by a penny. This increase represents the company's 41st consecutive annual dividend increase.
  • The estimated payout ratio is expected to equal 31% versus the 5-year average payout ratio of 46%. In 2003 the company reorganized certain business including exiting the Mac Tools retail channel. Consequently, the dividend payout ratio was 90% in 2003 due to some non-cash charges in that year.
  • SWK is one of S&P's Dividend Aristocrats.
  • The company has a Standard & Poor's Quality Ranking of B+.
(click on table/chart for larger image)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

BB&T Comes Through With Dividend Increase

In June, BB&T (BBT) affirmed its intention to increase its quarterly dividend. Well, Thursday the company came through on its intention and announced a 2.2% increase in the company's quarterly dividend. The rate of increase is below its 10-year average dividend growth rate of 10%.
  • The new quarterly dividend increases to 47 cents per share versus 46 cents per share in the same period last year.
  • The estimated payout ratio will equal 65% based on December 2008 estimated earnings of $2.89. The 5-year average payout for BBT is approximately 54%.
  • The company has a S&P Quality Ranking of A-.

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BB&T dividend analysis table July 17, 2008
BB&T stock chart July 17, 2008

Bullish Investor Sentiment Ticks Higher But Bull/Bear Spread Remains Unchanged

The American Association of Individual Investors reported this week's investor bullish sentiment rose to 25% versus last week's reading of 22.17%. The bull/bear spread remained unchanged at a negative 33% due to an increase in bearish sentiment to 58.14% versus last week's level of 55.17%. The 8-period moving average of bullish sentiment trended lower to 30% versus 33% last week.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wells Fargo Increases Dividend Nearly 10% And Stock Price Moves Higher By 33%

Wells Fargo (WFC) announces a 10% increase in its third quarter dividend earlier today and the stock rockets higher by nearly 33%! The stars seemed to be aligned this morning for the market as WFC announces the dividend increase and the SEC is taking a shot at naked short selling. Could it be that a large number of shorts were covering today in light of potential SEC action? Whatever the case I will enjoy the move higher by most financial sector stocks today.

In Well's case, the company is increasing its quarterly dividend to 34 cents per share versus 31 cents per share in the same quarter last year. The approximate payout ratio is 64% based on 2008 estimated earnings per share of $2.11. This compares to the 5-year average payout ratio of 45%. The company has an S&P Quality Ranking of A.

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Wells Fargo dividend table analysis July 16, 2008
Wells Fargo stock chart July 16, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Investing Carnival #3: The Bear Market Edition

Welcome to the July 15, 2008 edition of investing carnival. I was fortunate to draw this week's Carnival following a tough week in the market. One could really say the weeks have been tough since October of last year.

Since the markets have not been too kind to investors, I thought the first post should be from one of our doctors. Maybe this will provide the medicine for a better week ahead. So with that enjoy the following submissions from this past week.

Retirement Planning

Jose DeJesus MD presents Drawing on Your Retirement Funds posted at Physician Entrepreneur. Some useful tips if one is nearing retirement.

Ben Dinsmore presents The Roth 401K Can Accelerate Your Retirement Savings posted at Trees Full of Money, saying, "We should all be so lucky, but if you are among the few who routinely “max out” their yearly 401k contributions, you definitely need to know about the Roth 401k."

Dividend Investing

Dividend Growth Investor presents McDonald's Corporation (MCD) Dividend Analysis posted at Create Rising Passive Income From Dividend Paying Stocks, saying, "I think that MCD is currently overvalued at a P/E of 27 and a payout ratio of over 75%. The only positive is the solid dividend yield and above average dividend growth. I would consider initiating a long position in MCD on dips below $40."

Dividends4Life presents Stock Analysis: Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM) posted at Dividends 4 Life, saying, "Stock Analysis of Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM)"

Bullish Dividends presents Dividend Stock Analysis: Great-West Lifeco Inc (TSE: GWO) posted at Traders Corner, saying, "A Stock analysis of Great-West Lifeco Inc (TSE: GWO) to see if it's a good dividend based investment."

Slackerwealth presents Procter and Gamble, A Case for Going Long posted at A Slacker's Quest for His First Million, saying, "A bullish case for dividend stalwart Procter & Gamble."

Stockaholic presents Advantage Energy Income Fund (TSE: AVN.UN) posted at Traders Corner, saying, "Stock Analysis for Advantage Energy Income Fund"

Investing Screens

The Dividend Guy presents Stock Screens are not Buy Screens posted at The Dividend Guy Blog, saying, "Using stock screen as a stock buy generator is not a good idea. Here are my thoughts on the subject."

Sean presents The Best Free, Online ETF Screener? posted at Financial Ramblings.


Declan Fallon presents Where to start? posted at Fallond Trade history.

Steve Faber presents - Stock Market Terms – The Top10 Market Terms You Need to Know (Part 1) posted at DebtBlog.

The Shark Investor presents I'd Be The Growlingest Bear on the Internet If Only I Were a Bear posted at The Shark Investor.

Geoffrey presents Want to Hold Foreign Currencies Instead of US Dollars? posted at Wealth Monkeys.

Declan Fallon presents Strategy lab: Buy 2% gap - Sell on 10% gain posted at Zignals blog.

Investing Angel presents The 2008 Election And The Stock Market » Free Stock Market Investing Tips posted at Stock Tips, saying, "Your investment decisions right now may largely depend on who
you think will win the 2008 election."

Wealth Accumulation

Silicon Valley Blogger presents Help Your Kids Get Rich: Invest Early posted at The Digerati Life.

Dorian Wales presents Teach Your Kids Basic Finance and Economics with Monopoly - 11 Valuable Lessons posted at The Personal Financier, saying, "11 lessons to teach our kids drawn from a monopoly game I just finished"

Larry Russell presents Living Expense Tracking Methods posted at Pasadena Financial Planner.

Real Estate

Joe Manausa presents Understanding Trends In Real Estate posted at Tallahassee Real Estate Blog, saying, "Actual inventory trend analysis helps us to understand the overall movement of our residential inventory over a period of time. Of all the trends in real estate that we study, inventory trends are the most important. The longer the period of time that we study, the less that “noise” affects our view."

Alternative Investments

Neelakantha presents Top 50 Useful Financial Apps for Your iPhone or Blackberry posted at Currency With the introduction of the second generation iPhone maybe this article is for you. If you truly need to stay connected in the wireless world, some of the applications may benefit you.

David presents If I Was Going To Start Up A Day Spa posted at Sugar Salon, saying, "For several years, I dreamt of opening my day spa. I would spend hours in my 10×10 cubicle planning the service menu, the decor, the marketing theme, the perfect location. I spent zero hours thinking of managing staff, bookkeeping, dealing with plumbing issues."

That concludes the third carnival edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Investing Carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on The DIV-Net's blog carnival index page.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Paychex Increases Dividend 3.3%

On Monday, Paychex (PAYX) announced a 3.3% increase in the company's quarterly cash dividend. The new quarterly dividend increases to 31 cents per share versus 30 cents per share in the same quarter last year. The estimated payout ratio is 75% based on year end May 2009 earnings per share estimate of $1.65. The 5-year average payout ratio is approximately 53%. Paychex has an S&P Quality Ranking of A+.

(click on table/chart for larger image)

Paychex dividend analysis table July 14, 2008
Paychex stock chart july 14, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Relating Company Fundamentals To The Dividend Discount Model

(I originally posted the following article on The DIV-Net on July 6, 2008.)

Before I describe how to apply the Dividend Discount Model (DDM) to other fundamental company factors like, price to earnings, price to book and return on equity, following is a brief overview of the DDM.

The usefulness of valuing a stock using the Dividend Discount Model is the fact the formula provides an investor a price he/she can expect to receive from the specific stock investment. The investor receives all dividends on an ongoing basis plus the value of the stock when it is sold. In order to value the shares using the DDM, an investor calculates the present value of all the future cash flows. The constant DDM formula is:

dividend discount model formulaThe DDM can be used to relate the value of a stock to a company's fundamentals.

Price Earnings Ratio

To get to the P/E or price to earnings ratio, both sides of the constant DDM equation need to be divided by earnings per share. The resulting formula is:

price earnings ratio format of dividend discount modelThen looking at the above formula, an investor can tell:
  • increase the dividend payout then the P/E increases
  • increase the required rate of return, r, the P/E decreases
  • increase the growth rate, g, the P/E increases.
Required Rate of Return

As noted below, the DDM formula can be rearranged so an investor can ascertain that the required rate of return, r, is comprised of the dividend yield and the rate of growth.

Price of a Stock

Finding the relationship between price of a stock to the book value, return on equity, required rate of return, growth rate and dividend payout ratio involves rearranging the DDM formula as follows:

If B0 is the current book value and ROE is return on equity, one knows:

E0=(B0)(ROE0) since ROE0=E0/B0.


As a result, the price of a stock, P0, is related to:
  • book value--------------->increase B0 results in increase in P0
  • ROE--------------------->increase ROE results in an increase in P0
  • dividend yield-----------> increase D0/E0 results in increase in P0
  • expected growth rate---->increase g results in an increase in P0
  • required rate of return--->increase r results in a decrease in P0
Price to Book

Finding the relationship of fundamental company characteristics to a company's price to book ratio simply involves dividing both sides of the above equation by B0.

price to book format of dividend discount modelUsing the above formula then, an investor can determine:
  • increase in ROE0 increases P0/B0
  • increase in D0/E0 increases P0/B0
  • Increase in g increases P0/B0
  • Increase in r decreases P0/B0.
In the end, using the dividend discount model provides more information than taking the future cash flows from a stock investment and discounting them back to the present via a present value calculation. Delving underneath the formula can provide insight into a company's future prospects if an investor can determine the fundamental company factors that may or may not improve in the future.

Pamela Peterson Drake, Ph.D., CFA of James Madison University has a nice site containing investment information on topics such as portfolio theory and fundamental analysis, just to name a few. Once on the site, click on the "modules" tab.


Investing in stocks (pdf)
By: Pamela Peterson Drake, Ph.D., CFA

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Value In A Bear Market

It became official this past week with the S&P 500 Index entering a bear market by declining more than 20% from its high in October of 2007. The only way to have escaped damage to an investment portfolio in this market would have been to sell out of equities completely in October. Realistically, no investor has successfully timed in AND out of market cycles from peak to trough. Certainly there will be the occasional investor that brags about the time they went to all cash. What they don't say is that they went to cash months or years before the market top or they remained in cash through the entire next bull market.

Now that the markets are in bear market territory several questions come to mind.
  1. How long will the bear market last?
  2. Should one invest in stocks now?
Answering the second question first. One key aspect to investing is to buy low and sell high. With many stocks down significantly from their market highs, investment opportunities do exist in high quality firms where the potential purchase price is far below a company's fair market value or below its intrinsic value. For example, most banks will survive the current financial disruption. Everyone still needs to eat and wash their cloths. This is a reason stocks like Wal-Mart (WMT) continue to do well. Is there value in staples companies like Procter & Gamble (PG)? InBev (INB.BR) certainly believes there is value in Anheuser Busch (BUD).

So, should one invest in stocks now? If an investor's goals and objectives, along with portfolio allocation analysis, suggest equities should be a part of an overall portfolio, then value can be uncovered in some stocks. To potentially minimize additional market contraction, using an investment discipline focused on strong dividend growth companies and/or strong cash flow companies, can uncover attractive investment opportunities. An added benefit to owning high quality companies is their stock prices tend to hold up better in down markets.

Back to the first question of how long will the bear market last. No one can accurately predict the actual end date of this current bear market. However one can learn something by looking at the history of past bear markets.

The recent issue of The Outlook ($) newsletter by Standard & Poor's looks at the magnitude and duration of the last nine bear markets since 1956. A common question asked today is what generally occurs after the market declines 20%. S&P notes:
  • [the bear markets] have varied in magnitude from the decline of 20% for the market in 1990 to the 48.2% from 1973 to 1974 and the 49.1% from 2000 to 2002.
  • History shows that the S&P 500 didn’t cross the 20% threshold until two-thirds of the way through the overall decline.
  • From 1956 to 2001, these nine bear markets lasted an average 14 months, yet it wasn’t until the 9th month after the market top that the S&P 500 finally fell into bear market territory. This time was the same as the average: We topped out on October 9, 2007, and crossed into bear market mode almost exactly nine months later.
The below table outlines the market performance at various time periods following the 20% correction.

(click on table for larger image)

historical bear market table
Out of the nine bear market since 1956, there were only two periods where the market was down further after 12 months, the 1956-1957 bear market and the 1973-1974 bear market.

Who knows if the worst is over, but history would suggest a large part of the decline is already priced into equity prices. Could they go lower--certainly. However, using a disciplined investment approach could uncover some rewarding investment opportunities.


Breaking the 20% Threshold

The Outlook
Standard & Poor's
By: Sam Stovall

(I hold a long position in Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Market In A Downtrend But Ready For A Bounce?

As noted in the chart below, the S& 500 Index remains in a downtrend since mid-October 2007.

(click on chart for larger image)

However, given the intermediate oversold level of the S&P 500 Index, it is possible we could see a bounce higher in the market in the near term. The percentage of S&P stocks trading above their 50 day moving average is 10 percentage points below the level hit in March of this year when the market bounced off of a low. On the other hand, the percentage of stocks trading above their 150 day moving average is quite a bit higher than the level reached in March 2007 (see below charts.)

(click on charts for larger image)

The market's tone for Friday will likely be set by General Electric's (GE) earnings report at 8:30.

Another Decline In Investor Bullish Sentiment

Wednesday, the American Association of Individual Investors reported results of their weekly investor sentiment survey. Recall the sentiment survey is a contrarian indicator (one of many) and the less bullish individual investors, the more likely the market may be nearing a bottom. The results show individual investors continue to be less bullish on the market.

For the week, the level of bullishness declined to 22.17% versus last week's reading of 23.93%. The 8-period moving average of the bullishness level continued to declined and is reported at 32.8%versus last week's average of 35.7%.

(click on graph for larger image)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Walgreen Increases Dividend 18.4%

Today, Walgreen (WAG) announced an 18.4% increase in the company's quarterly dividend. The new quarterly dividend equals 11.25 cents per share versus 9.5 cents per share in the same quarter last year. The projected payout ratio equals 18% based on estimated August 2009 earnings of $2.48. The 5-year average payout ratio equals 15%. The company is one of Standard & Poor's Dividend Aristocrats and carries an S&P Quality Ranking of A+.

(click on table/chart for larger image)

Walgreen dividend analysis table July 9, 2008
Walgreen stock chart July 9, 2008

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Dividend Cut Flood

Today, Standard & Poor's reported that:

  • 97 companies out of the approximately 7,000 publicly owned companies that report dividend information to S&P decreased their dividend in the second quarter.
  • This was the most since 1990, when 108 issues decreased their dividend payments.
  • On a dollar basis the damage is coming from Financial issues, which saw reductions in annual payments by over $13 billion.
  • Howard Silverblatt, Senior Index Analyst at Standard & Poor’s, "also notes that many issues that traditionally increase their dividend rate every few years now appear to be holding off. 'On the positive side, we are still seeing many dividend payers with positive EPS and positive cash flow.'"
Additional factoids from the second quarter:
  • At the beginning of 2007 the financial sector represented more than 20% of the S&P 500 Index and energy was 10% of the index. At the end of June the financial sector represented only 14.2% of the index while energy totaled 16.2%. Following is a table detailing the sector weight by market capitalization for the S&P 500 Index along with the energy and financial sectors.
(click on table for larger image)

Whatever the cause may be, it appears a little mean reversion is in the works. This is not to dissimilar to what occurred when the technology bubble burst. Does the energy sector revert to its mean weight anytime soon?


S&P: Worst Quarter in 18 Years for Corporate Dividends (PDF)
Standard & Poor's
By: David R. Guarino and Howard Silverblatt
July 7, 2008

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Dividend Focused ETFs' Performance Depends On Financial Sector

The number of new dividend focused exchange traded funds (ETFs) seems to have grown rapidly over the past few years. The unfortunate factor associated with these ETFs is nearly all of them have a heavy weighting to the financial sector. In order for these investments to gain positive traction from a performance perspective, improvement in the performance of financials will need to occur.

Below is a table of a few of the dividend focused ETFs along with the sector weightings for each respective ETF. The table also includes the ETF yield and performance for the last 12-months. Additionally, the last two columns of the spreadsheet detail the sector weightings for the S&P 500 Index along with the 12-month return for each sector. The full spreadsheet can be accessed at this link.

The ETFs listed in the above table are:
  • iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index Fund (DVY)
  • First Trust Morningstar Dividend Leaders Index Fund (FDL)
  • PowerShares High Yield Equity Dividend Achievers Portfolio (PEY)
  • PowerShares International Dividend Achievers Portfolio (PID)
  • Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF (VYM)
  • SPDR S&P Dividend ETF (SDY)
  • WisdomTree Total Dividend Fund (DTD)
  • WisdomTree Dividend Top 100 Fund (DTN)
  • WisdomTree MidCap Dividend Fund (DON)
  • Claymore/Zachs Yield Hog Portfolio (CVY)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Back To The Basics

I recently ran across the website, Path to Investing, where:'ll find clear, objective, and practical information that can help you become an educated investor. [The site's] goal is to help you learn about investing, whether you're new to investing, need to find out about investing for retirement, or want to know more about investment topics that are currently in the news...
The site is provided by The SIFMA Foundation for Investor Education. SIFMA, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Foundation for Investor Education (SIFMA Foundation) was formed by The Foundation for Investor Education (FIE), The Bond Market Foundation (TBMF), and the New York District Economic Education Foundation.

Path to Investing has a a number of sections that investors may find of interest:
  • Managing Expectations (HTML) (Print Version) by Jeremy Siegel of The Wharton School.
  • Evaluating Risk & Return (HTML) (PDF) by Thomas Dorsey of Dorsey, Wright & Associates
  • Demystifying Stock Research (HTML) (Print Version) by Sam Stovall of Standards & Poor's
SIFMA supports several other investment related sites in addition to Path to Investing:
During these volatile market times, some of the above topics and sites may help in reducing the emotion that sometimes clouds investment decisions.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Investor Bullish Sentiment Continues to Fall

The contrarian investor sentiment survey from the American Association of Individual Investors saw a further decline in the level of bullish sentiment this week. AAII reported the bullish sentiment level decline to 23.9% versus last week's reading of 31.3%. The bull/bear spread also turned more negative at -28% versus last week's reading of -21%. As this is a contrarian indicator, individual investors have a tendency to become the least bullish at market bottoms.

(click on graph for larger image)

individual investor bullish sentiment graph July 3, 2008

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Dividend Payers vs. Non Payers: At Least June Is Over

June was certainly a tough month for long equity holders. Even the dividend payers struggled in the month; however, the payers did outperform the non-payers.

The payers' average return in June equaled -9.77% while the non-payers' average return came in at -10.49. The market cap weighted S&P 500 Index return actually outperformed the average return for the payers and non-payers with a return of -8.43%.

As the below chart notes, the payers continue to lag the non-payers on a year to date basis. On the other hand, the payers maintain a performance edge over the trailing 12-months.

(click on table for larger image)

S&P 500 payers versus non payers performance June 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

It Is A Bear Market: Now What?

It is official, early this afternoon the Dow was 20% below the October 2007 high. Now that we have the bear market rhetoric behind us, what can be expected going forward. One thing to keep in mind:
"Bear markets generally begin in good times. Bull markets generally begin in bad times."
The market did have a pretty successful bounce off of its low today. From a technical perspective the below chart of the S&P 500 Index shows the market remains in a solid downtrend; however, the bounce did occur on fairly good volume of about 4.8 billion shares. The MACD indicator at the bottom of the chart is not projecting a positive market upturn. If we could see a turn higher in the 12-day EMA this would certainly be a positive that could be added to today's market bounce.

(click on chart for larger image)

S&P 500 Index technical analysis July 1, 2008
The other factor weighing on the market is oil--no surprise there. Much has been made about the high price level of a barrel of oil. As the below chart indicates, the price of a barrel of oil has increased at a much greater rate than the price level of gas. Could this be a result of speculators in the oil markets?

(click on chart for larger image)

oil and gas chart Jul1 1, 2008Source: Daily Wealth

An interesting analysis of the speculative factor in oil prices is detailed in the article, Speculators Are to Blame for Sky-High Crude Oil Prices at the Contrarian Profits website. In a short excerpt from the article, the author notes:
...five years ago, the commodity futures market had $13 billion invested in it. Now it has $260 billion. Eighteen years ago, only 13 percent of open interest in oil futures was long (betting that oil prices would go up). Now, 58 percent is invested long.
If the stock market could get some relief from oil prices, the consumer situation would likely improve along with the equity markets and the economy.


Speculators Are to Blame for Sky-High Crude Oil Prices
Contrarian Profits
By: Andrew Gordon
July 1, 2008

The Real Numbers Behind High Gas Prices
Daily Wealth
By: Steve Sjuggerud
July, 2008