Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Why We Are Dividend Growth Investors

We have all heard it... Stodgy, for old people, yawn, boring! These have all been used to describe dividend growth investing. As a dividend growth investor, I sometimes think our strategy is the most misunderstood. It seems everyone understands a traders mentality as evidenced by the numerous comments on capital appreciation - "Why would you buy that stock? It has been flat for 2 years."

Most understand the high yield investors mentality as noted by comments like - "Why would you buy that stock when you can buy Amalgamated Risk and it pays a 12% dividend?" Both of these strategies can be successful, as can a dividend growth strategy. Periodically, it is good to remind ourselves why we are dividend growth investors.

Dividends Provide Investment Stability

In a troubled market, dividend growth stocks provide a degree of stability to your portfolio. While everyone else is panicked about their portfolio’s decline, dividend investors see a downturn as an incredible buying opportunity.

Many are now referring to the decade ending in 2009 as the lost decade. It was only lost if you were focusing on capital appreciation. Investors in dividend growth stocks continued to see their income grow over the decade.

Dividends Are Real

Unlike earnings, dividends are cash and can’t be manipulated or faked. From an accounting standpoint, it is relatively easy through fraud and manipulation to make an income statement look quite impressive. I take great comfort in a company with a strong cash flows and a consistent history of increasing cash dividends.

An increasing cash dividend keeps pressure on management to ensure the company is well run. If there are too many missteps, then eventually a dividend will slip. This can be disastrous for a company’s stock price. Earnings can be manufactured, cash can not. Always follow the cash and it just might lead you to a great company. There is no faking the cash that shows up in your brokerage account.

Dividends Provide Feedback

Dividends provide continuous feedback. As time passes dividend investors see their income steadily grow. You do not have to wait five to ten years to determine if the strategy is working. Each dividend and dividend increase provides the investor with reassurance that the strategy is working.

Reinvested Dividends Drive Equity Returns

Historically, reinvested dividends provided a significant portion of equities' returns. In Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns (2002), the authors looked at equity returns from capital gains and dividends from 1900 to 2000. They determined that performance in any given year was driven by capital appreciation, but long-term returns were largely the result of reinvested dividends. Looking at 101 years of data in the U.S. and U.K., they found that a market-oriented portfolio with dividends reinvested would have generated nearly 85 times the wealth of the same portfolio relying solely on capital gains.

Good Companies Pay Dividends,
Great Companies Grow Dividends

You expect your employer to give you a raise periodically. Why wouldn’t you expect the same from your investments? We have all heard of compound interest (interest on interest), but compound dividends (dividends on growing dividends) is even more powerful.

Dividends Are Perpetual

You don't have to cut down your income tree to enjoy a warm dividend fire. Unlike a capital gain strategy where you have to sell stocks to generate cash, spending dividends in retirement does not harm or erode your principle investment. In addition, a good dividend portfolio can be left to your children and their children.

Dividends Are Relatively Low Maintenance

You may not want to spend your retirement managing and worrying about your portfolio. Dividends from a quality, well-diversified portfolio are much more predictable than capital gains and best of all, they are passive. You don’t have to do anything, they just show up in your brokerage account each quarter. Inflation? Not to worry, the good companies routinely raise their dividends well in excess of the inflation rate. Retirement is not when you want to start learning how to invest in dividend securities. There is a degree of art to it -- start young, time is always a great ally.

Dividend Growth Stocks

Below are several dividend growth stocks that have excelled over the decades and have rewarded their shareholders with over 55 years of consecutive annual dividend increases:

American States Water Co. (AWR) primarily serves water customers in California. It also provides electric service to a small section of San Bernardino County. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1931 and has increased its dividend payments for 62 consecutive years. Yield: 2.1%

Parker-Hannifin Corp (PH) is a global maker of industrial pneumatic, hydraulic and vacuum motion/control systems, including related pumps, valves, filters, hoses, etc. Its products are used in everything from jet engines to autos, trucks and utility turbine. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1949 and has increased its dividend payments for 60 consecutive years. Yield: 2.5%

3M Co. (MMM) provides enhanced product functionality in electronics, health care, industrial, consumer, office, telecommunications, safety & security and other markets via coatings, sealants, adhesives and other chemical additives. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1916 and has increased its dividend payments for 57 consecutive years. Yield: 2.8%

Dover Corp. (DOV) manufactures a broad range of specialized industrial products and sophisticated manufacturing equipment. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1947 and has increased its dividend payments for 60 consecutive years. Yield: 2.8%

Genuine Parts Co. (GPC) is a leading wholesale distributor of automotive replacement parts, industrial parts and supplies, and office products. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1948 and has increased its dividend payments for 60 consecutive years. Yield: 2.9%

Cincinnati Financial Corp. (CINF) is an insurance holding company that primarily markets property and casualty coverage. It also conducts life insurance and asset management operations. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1954 and has increased its dividend payments for 55 consecutive years. Yield: 3.0%

The Procter & Gamble Company (PG) is a leading consumer products company that markets household and personal care products in more than 180 countries. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1891 and has increased its dividend payments for 58 consecutive years. Yield: 3.3%

Vectren Corp. (VVC) is an energy holding company that primarily provides energy delivery services to natural gas and electric customers in Indiana and Ohio. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1946 and has increased its dividend payments for 56 consecutive years. Yield: 3.6%

Northwest Natural Gas Co. (NWN) is a natural gas utility that provides service to residential, commercial and industrial customers in Oregon, Washington and California. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1952 and has increased its dividend payments for 60 consecutive years. Yield: 3.7%

Emerson Electric Co. (EMR) designs and supplies product technology, and delivers engineering services and solutions to a wide range of industrial, commercial and consumer markets around the world. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1947 and has increased its dividend payments for 60 consecutive years. Yield: 3.9%

Stodgy, for old people, yawn, boring! To this list you can add stable, real, effective, safer, perpetual, low maintenance, and yes, even exciting.

Full Disclosure: Long PH, MMM, GPC, CINF, PG, VVC, NWN, EMR. See a list of all my dividend growth holdings here.
 
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Tags: AWR, PH, MMM, DOV, GPC, CINF, PG, VVC, NWN, EMR,

4 comments:

  1. While dividends have many nice features, as an investor why wouldn't I care more about total return? In the end do I really care how I get the growth? It seems like most studies show that seeking a total return through diversified allocations of bond and stock index funds or etfs provides better returns.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is nothing wrong with total return. During the accumulation phase it works well for those with the discipline to follow it - buying in beaten down markets when there in no relief in sight selling in bull markets when it appears that everyone is making money. A lot of people don't have this discipline.

      However, if you are living off your investments using a total return model, you will be forced to sell at bad times, such as 2007-2009 when the market is tanking. Dividend Growth Investing may not yield the optimal performance for a seasoned investor capable of understanding the market and factors driving it and have the ability to execute on the knowledge.

      Returns on a Dividend Growth Strategy aren't bad. i have been able to beat the S&P 500 in 5 of the last 8 years, without losing second of sleep.

      Best Wishes,
      D4L

      Delete
  2. My priorities are: Protection of capital, income, growth. D4L's model provides that for me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post! I recently added Emerson Electric Co. to my portfolio. Great stock at a good price right now.

    ReplyDelete

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