Monday, January 14, 2019

The Dividend Crossover Point

The goal of every dividend investor is to one day accumulate a portfolio of income producing stocks, which would throw off a large amount of dividends every month. The magic point is where the dividend income exceeds the expenses of the dividend investor. At the dividend crossover point your dividend income meets or exceeds your expenses. For many dividend investors, this is the point synonymous with financial independence. After all, after years of sacrifice, wise investment and sticking to a plan, investors would finally be able to do be free from a nine to five job. The goal of reaching the dividend crossover point is achievable, but it takes capital, time, skill or luck in order to get to the magic point.

In order to reach that magical point, a lot of work needs to be done. Investors need to design a retirement strategy, and then stick to it through thick and thin, while also improving along the way. Some of the biggest dangers to successful dividend investing are not market volatility, dividend cuts or recessions, but investor psychology.

The process of accumulating a viable dividend stream will take anywhere from several years for those who are starting out with a large amount in their 401 (k) or IRA’s to a few decades for these young investors who are just starting out in their professional careers. Along the way, many investors will lose track of the goal due to sheer boredom or due to lack of patience. Successful dividend investing is sometimes as exciting as watching paint dry. Unfortunately, investors who enter dividend investing for the sheer excitement do not stick to it. On the other hand, investors who attempt to find shortcuts to speed up the process of capital accumulation by using options and futures, risky growth stocks or massive leverage will likely be disappointed along the way.

The key ingredients to accumulating a sufficient dividend income stream include time, dividend reinvestment and regular contributions to your portfolio. The power of regular contributions is important, because this ensures that investors consciously keep working towards their goal of dividend independence by investing in dividend stocks every month. While markets fluctuate greatly, I have always found at least 15 – 20 attractively valued income stocks at all times. Dividend reinvestment in dividend growth stocks is essential for turbo-charging your passive income. And last but not least, investors need the time to let their income compound to their desired amount.

Dividend investing takes time, before the amount of distributions reaches decent levels. Imagine that someone managed to save $1000/month for one year. Each month, they put $1000 total in two companies ($500 dollars per company per month). At the end of the first year, they would have about 24 companies, and the portfolio cost will be $12,000. If the average yield were 4%, this portfolio will generate $480 in annual dividends, which accounts for roughly $40/month. On the positive side, the dividends from this portfolio will generate enough to purchase one additional stock position per year. In addition, $40/month could pay for utilities, phone or internet bills for the investor pretty much for life. On the negative side, assuming that the investor needs $1000/month to cover their basic expenses, he or she would calculate that they would need to sacrifice almost for one decade, before their income reaches a decent amount. Once they are there however, and their portfolios consist of wide-moat dividend champions with sustainable distributions, investors will be able to live off dividends.

You can see that building that dividend machine can be a long term process. The levers within the control of the investor include their savings rate, ability to develop a strategy and stick to it, in order to allow the power of long-term investment compounding to do its magic.

In my investing, I have found very important to follow a few simple rules in order to create a sustainable dividend producing machine, which would produce dependable income for decades.

First, investors should focus on companies which have a long history of paying and raising dividends. I typically look for companies which have increased dividends for at least ten years in a row.

Second, investors should make sure that these companies are trading at attractive valuations. I have found that paying a P/E of over 20 could lead to poor results.

Third, investors should make sure that the company’s dividend is sustainable out of earnings or cash flows. I typically look for a dividend payout ratio of less than 60% for ordinary stocks. For REITs or Master Limited Partnership I look for FFO Payout and DCF Payout Ratios.

Fourth, investors should perform a qualitative analysis of the dividend paying company they consider for purchasing. This analysis should include understanding how the business makes money, growth prospects, competitive landscape, whether the business has any moat, whether the company has any strong brands, which consumers are loyal to and result in pricing power.

Fifth, investors should try to build a diversified dividend portfolio consisting of at least 50 -60 individual stocks coming from at least ten sectors. Having exposure to internationally based companies is a plus, despite the fact that most dividend growth stocks derive a major part of their profits from outside the US.


Today we discussed the concept of the dividend crossover point, which is the point where dividend income exceeds expenses. We also discussed the tools within the investor’s control to get there.

Finally, I shared a brief overview of the types of simple investing rules I follow to evaluate dividend paying stocks. All of the principles listed in this article are the cornerstones of the Dividend Growth Portfolio newsletter that I launched a few months ago. I believe that by showing how I am building a real world portfolio from scratch, I can educate investors on the inner works of dividend investing.

At the same time, dividend income makes it easy to see how we are doing against our ultimate goal of $1,000 in monthly dividend income. Right now, the dividend growth portfolio is earning $15 in expected average monthly dividend income after six months of saving and investing. I expect that by following the principles outlined in this post, we should be able to hit the dividend crossover point of $1,000 in monthly dividend income within ten to fifteen years. The outcomes vary, because the conditions over the next decade or so will likely vary as well. If more securities are available at higher starting yields or if dividend growth is faster than anticipated we will achieve our goals quicker. If on the other hand starting yields are lower and dividend growth is lower, we will achieve our goals in a slower fashion

Relevant Articles:

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Blackrock (BLK) Dividend Stock Analysis

Blackrock (BLK) is the largest investment manager in the world, with over $6.5 trillion in assets under management.

Over the past decade, the stock has compounded by 14.96%/year. Future returns will likely be lower, and they will track growth in earnings per share and the initial dividend yield at the time of investment.

The company has managed to grow dividends for nine years in a row. In 2019, it will reach dividend achiever status.

Between 2007 and 2017, Blackrock compounded dividends at an annualized rate of 14.10%/year. The company last raised dividends by 8.70% to $3.13/share in July 2018. This was on top of the regular dividend increase in January, which lifted the quarterly distributions by 15% to $2.88/share.

Between 2007 and 2017, Blackrock managed to grow its earnings from $7.37 to $22.60. The 2017 figures are adjusted for one-time events related to the new tax law, as well as returning foreign earnings back to the US. The company is expected to earn $27.73/share in 2018.

The company is a leader in the asset management industry, with tremendous scale. It also has a diversity of products offered (equity, fixed income etc), geographic diversity ( Americas, Europe, Asia etc) in its products offered and the types of strategies offered ( active, passive, cash management). The company also has diversity in clients served – retail & institutional.
The company is a leader in ETFs, with tremendous inflows coming its way as there is a trend to switch from high cost mutual funds to ETFs. Unfortunately, passively managed ETFs provide a lot of assets, but not as much in profits as actively managed funds. The actively managed funds that Blackrock manages tend to be a portion of the assets, but account for almost half of profits. Actively managed products accounts for a quarter of assets and half of revenues. Passively managed assets account for 2/3rds of AUM, but half of revenues.

Blackrock has managed to grow organically, through new product introductions and through acquisitions. Given it massive scale, it is quite possible that new acquisitions will not have as big of an impact in the long-run. The massive scale does create advantages, since it spreads costs over a larger base, thus ensuring higher profits than smaller competitors. This also offers advantages in distribution as well.

Most asset managers manage to grow the bottom line by attracting new funds from new or existing investors, net of any that sell their holdings. Blackrock has done a great job growing assets organically and through acquisitions over the past decade. If financial markets rise over the next decade, it will also benefit from growing assets under management brought by higher prices. This is a two-edged sword however, because it leaves them exposed in the short-run by market volatility. I do believe that in the long-run, assets will likely go up, bringing a nice tailwind to investment managers such as Blackrock. If we get lower prices in the short run however, we will witness lower earnings per share and lower multiples. This is why I am buying those assets managers on the scale down.

The number of outstanding shares increased between 2009 and 2010, due to acquisitions. Blackrock has been steadily reducing the number of share outstanding since then. Regular share buybacks can increase investors ownership interest in an enterprise, and automatically lift earnings per share. Companies have to be careful however not to overpay for shares they are retiring, otherwise they are wasting shareholder assets.

The dividend payout ratio has remained around 45% during the current decade; the only volatility occurred during the 2007 – 2009 financial crisis, when declines in assets under management resulted in lower earnings per share. The company did keep the dividend unchanged in 2009. If 2019 is a tough year for stocks, we may see Blackrock freezing dividends once again. Once things normalize however, Blackrock will likely start growing distributions again.

Currently, shares of Blackrock are attractively valued at 14.40 times forward earnings and spot a dividend yield of 3.10%. Asset managers have been on sale as of recently in general, after a difficult 2018.

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Monday, January 7, 2019

British American Tobacco (BTI) Dividend Stock Analysis

British American Tobacco p.l.c. (BTI) provides cigarettes and other tobacco products worldwide. It manufactures vapour and tobacco heating products; oral tobacco and nicotine products, such as snus and moist snuff; cigars; and e-cigarettes.

The company is an international dividend achiever, which has managed to reward shareholders with a dividend increase every year since 1997.

Some of BTI's competitors include Altria Group (MO), Phillip Morris International (PM) and Japan Tobacco.

Earnings per share increased from 1.23/share in 2009 to 2.85/share in 2017. The 2017 figures have been adjusted for some one-time items related to the acquisition of Reynolds and the changes in US corporate tax code. The company is expected to earn 2.97 GBP per share in 2018.

The figures are in British Pound Sterling (GBP), since this is a British Company based in the UK. There will be currency fluctuations for US investors in British shares, driven by the changes in currency rates between the US dollar and the British pound. Even if the dividend increases in British Pounds, it is possible that your dividend income in US dollars decreases, if the British pound depreciates in value.

The stock price has plunged in recent months following fears that there will be ban on the sale of menthol tobacco products in the US by the FDA. Even if that happens however, it would take a long time to be implemented. Menthol cigarettes account to almost a quarter of profits. There is also increased pressure on e-cigarettes as well, which have been a growth opportunity for tobacco companies like BTI.

The number of smokers in the developed world is expected to keep declining. This effect is usually offset by price increases which are larger than declines in the number of smokers. BTI is investing in its next generation products, which could spur growth in the future, while also striving to maintain its position in the traditional tobacco products markets. I really like the fact that BTI is well diversified internationally, with exposure to North America, Eastern Europe Middle East and Africa, Europe, and Asia. This diversification spreads the regulatory risk down a notch.

BTI acquired Reynolds in 2017, and is working to integrate the operations, while also realizing the synergies expected from the deal. Future growth can also be achieved by acquisitions, which the company has had a strong history of successfully integrating under its umbrella.

BTI owns leading electronic cigarette brands such as Vype, Ten Motives, VUSE. In addition, it owns the brands iFuse and Glo, which are heated tobacco products. Major traditional tobacco brands include Kent, Dunhill, Lucky Strike, Rothmans and Pall Mall. Strong brands tend to have pricing power, which is good for profits in the long run. Given the global scale of operations, strong customer loyalty to brander products, high barriers to entry, and strong generation of excess cashflows and excess returns on investment, I believe that BTI has a wide moat ( though most other competitors such as Altria, PMI also spot a wide moat as well)

Companies like British American Tobacco can benefit from growth in emerging markets, where smoking is more widespread and declines in smokers are much slower. The company is well positioned in emerging economies.

The annual dividend increased from 70 pence/share in 2008 to 1.75 pounds/share in 2017. The forward annual dividend is 1.92 pounds/share.

The company switched from paying dividends twice per year to a quarterly dividend schedule by 2018. Prior to that it was paying dividends twice per year. The payments differed in size however, although in total they grew each year since at least 1997.

Since this is a UK based company, I analyzed the financial information in British Pounds. As a US based investor, I will be buying the ADR’s traded on NYSE, quotes in US dollars. The dividends in US dollars will fluctuate due to currency fluctuations between the dollar and the pound. In the long run however, these should not have that much effect, assuming that the underlying business model is not fundamentally impaired. 

The dividend payout ratio has increased from 57% in 2008 to 61% in 2017. The forward payout ratio is at 65%. While the payout ratio seems high, this is actually on the low side for a tobacco company.

The number of shares outstanding decreased between 2008 and 2016. The acquisition of Reynolds in 2017 for cash and stock increased the number of shares outstanding. I believe that while management will be prioritizing debt reduction over time, there should be some room for further share buybacks in the future.
The shares of British American Tobacco trade at a low valuation at just 8.70 times forward earnings and have a high dividend yield of 7.40%. Based on the forward payout ratio of 65%, the dividend looks safe. I view the stock as attractively valued today. There are plenty of other tobacco companies to choose from these days, including Altria and Phillip Morris International. While the future is cloudier, given the risk of obsolescence from other products, the valuations are compelling. If the dividend is at least maintained, investors should be able to generate some decent returns over the next decade.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 Dividend Champions List

A dividend champion is a company which has a 25 year record of annual dividend increases. There are only 129 such companies in the US today. I believe that becoming a dividend champion is no accident, and it is a result of a strong business that has generated earnings growth for a long period of time. These are the types of businesses I like to study, and potentially consider at the right time for my dividend portfolio.

I have updated the list of dividend champions through December 31, 2018. I decided to update the list of dividend champions after the untimely passing of David Fish in May 2018

Since I use the list of dividend champions in my investing research, I realized that my process is at risk, since it is dependent on a single person. This led me to develop ways to update the list on a monthly basis. The list is a result of a few things I do:

1) Obtain forward dividend information from Yahoo Finance, and compare it to existing information from the prior month's list

2) Research differences, and verify if this is indeed a dividend increase. I like to verify new raises and dividend track records against press releases, which is a manual process. Very often, my research tells me that there is no increase, but my data feed or my calculations are incorrect.

3) Update the list using the inputs from 1) and 2) above, and add prices and trailing earnings per share.

4) The other step is more of a gut check. I like to keep plugged in the world of dividend growth investing. Between monitoring weekly dividend increases, monitoring my dividend portfolio holdings and following investors and companies, I develop a mental checklist of companies that have increased/decreased dividends. This is helpful when updating the list of dividend champions. I have also been around for a little bit, which is how I decided to promote certain companies like Abbott (ABT) to the rank of a dividend champion, but remove Realty Income (O) from the list.

5) I didn't find a reliable source to update the trailing dividend payments for 2018 in a systematic way. As I didn't feel like updating the annual dividend amounts for 2018 for over 100 companies, I skipped this step.

The 2019 dividend champions list can be downloaded from this location in an excel spreadsheet format. Subscribers to my free newsletter are receiving this as an attachment in their inboxes.

Additions to the list

I added two companies to the list of dividend champions, which raised their dividends for the 25th year in at row:

PSB Holdings Inc. (PSBQ)

Urstadt Biddle Properties (UBA)

I updated Praxair (PX), which merged with German company Linde a few months ago to the new company/symbol Linde (LIN). Based on the latest dividend announcement, it looks like the new company is continuing the dividend history of Praxair.

As a result, there are 129 dividend champions in the US.

There were several dividend increases over the past month from the dividend champion companies. These include:

Yrs Annual Increases
Old Rate
New Rate
ABM Industries Inc.
 $  0.1750
 $  0.1800
Abbott Laboratories
 $  0.2800
 $  0.3200
AT&T Inc.
 $  0.5000
 $  0.5100
Ecolab Inc.
 $  0.4100
 $  0.4600
Erie Indemnity Company
 $  0.7825
 $  0.8400
Franklin Resources
 $  0.2000
 $  0.2300
Nucor Corp.
 $  0.3800
 $  0.4000
Pentair Ltd.
 $  0.1750
 $  0.1800
SEI Investments Company
 $  0.3000
 $  0.3300
Stryker Corp.
 $  0.4700
 $  0.5200
Universal Health Realty Trust
 $  0.6700
 $  0.6750

I have decided to discontinue updating the list of dividend champions for several reasons.

First of all, there is someone else who has taken on the task of updating the list of dividend champions, contenders and challengers. I have a great respect for this, given the fact that I know how time consuming this process can be. I am hopeful that they can continue updating the list for years to come. If they don't, I am sure that someone else can pick up the torch. Either way, I have a backup process in place to update the list of dividend champions. But for the time being, it is no use to duplicate effort.

Second, I do not as much interest from my readers about those monthly updates of the dividend champions list. Readers tend to enjoy other articles I write, because of my personal spin on the situation. Given the fact that updating the list of dividend champions takes a lot of time, right around the time I am busy with updates for my dividend growth investor newsletter, I am choosing to prioritize my premium offering.

This was a great exercise in updating the dividend champions list however. It is a great exercise in independent thinking. For example, I disagree with some of the additions in the current list of dividend champions. Notably, the following companies have not increased dividends for 25 years in a row (e.g. Realty Income went public in 1994, so they would be eligible to become a dividend champion by the end of 2019):

Years Annual Increases
Artesian Resources
Realty Income

In addition, the other list does not include Abbott Labs (ABT), which has increased dividends for 47 years in at row. The company split into two in 2013, when it spun-off Abbvie. Therefore, I believe that the company with the legacy name should inherit the historical record of annual dividend increases. If you disagree with this thinking, you should also remove Altria (MO) from the list of dividend champions. The latter spun-off Kraft in 2007 and Phillip Morris International (PM) in 2008, but is on the list of dividend champions. I believe that you need to have a consistency in methodology, when maintaining a list of companies.

Of course, the other list from Justin Law updates roughly 800 companies, which is why we  should not be too picky. This is a massive undertaking to take on a monthly basis, as it is a gargantuan amount of work.

Thank you for reading along! The rest of the articles will continue next week!

Relevant Articles:

Dividend Champions, Contenders & Challengers: The most complete list of US dividend growth stocks available
October 2018 Dividend Champions List
December 2018 Dividend Champions List
RIP David Fish

Monday, December 31, 2018

I just bought these 10 dividend growth stocks for my portfolio

Readers of my Dividend Growth Investor newsletter just received a list of ten dividend growth stocks I plan to purchase on today. This is a real money portfolio which I started in July, in an effort to educate investors on the process of building a portfolio to reach long-term objectives. I invest $1,000 in the ten companies I profile every single month, and let interested readers observe in real time how I build a dividend machine from scratch.

The report includes a detailed analysis of each company, using the methods I use to evaluate dividends for safety, valuation and whether dividend growth is on a solid footing. I used the same methods for building my dividend growth portfolio over the past decade.

The goal of the newsletter is to go beyond just identifying ten companies for investment every month. The real goal is to educate investors how real wealth can be built in the stock market. The process of building an income portfolio is very simple, but not easy. An investor simply needs to save money and put them to work in attractively valued stocks regularly. The next step involves reinvesting dividends either selectively or through a DRIP. The last step is the most exciting one – to patiently hold on to your collection of businesses for the long-term. To build a dividend machine, one has to arm themselves with a lot of patience and a long-term focus. This means avoiding the expensive habit of timing the market because it “looks high” or because “it is crashing”. Having the patience to hold on to your investments through thick or thin is a habit that is within the control of the investor.

I try to select companies that I believe will be around in a decade or so, and will be more profitable and pay higher dividend payments along the way. I also evaluate dividends for safety. I focus on valuation today as well as long-term fundamentals. Without growth in fundamentals, and the ability of the business to grow them over time, the companies I invest in will be unable to achieve future dividend growth. As a long-term investor, I buy companies to hold for years if not decades. This is not a newsletter where I will buy securities with the intent of selling them a few months later.

The price for the monthly subscription is just $6/month to new subscribers who sign up for the service. The price for the annual subscription is only $65/year for new subscribers. If you subscribe at the low introductory rate today, the price will never increase for you.

I offer a 7 day free trial for new readers. If you want to give my newsletter a try, you may do so by signing up below:

Once you sign up, I will add you to my premium mailing list, and you will receive all exclusive content related to the portfolio.

Each month, I will be allocating $1,000 to my dividend portfolio by buying stakes in ten attractively valued companies. The newsletter will include information on the companies I am purchasing, along with a brief analysis of each company.

The ultimate goal of the portfolio is to generate $1,000 in monthly dividend income.

I plan to track this portfolio in real time over the next few years, and track our progress towards our goal.

Thank you for reading Dividend Growth Investor.

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