Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Best International Dividend Stocks

In a previous article I provided a list with the best dividend stocks for the long run. Since the list included only US stocks several readers asked for a similar list with international dividend growth stocks instead. Furthermore, I am also looking to expand my portfolio to include at least some allocation to global dividend companies.

I do agree that in the globalized society of the 21st century it is important do be able to diversify your stock investments away from the US. By purchasing international stocks one essentially receives income in a different currency, which is a decent hedge against a possible devaluation of the US dollar. Another benefit of shopping for quality dividend stocks abroad is the huge potential for economic growth and development that both established and emerging economies posses.

There are some differences between US and international based dividend stocks. The first is that the dividend payments of foreign dividend stocks closely follow the earnings trend for the corporation. This is a problem for international dividend growth investors as it does not lead to a consistently increasing dividend income stream, which they are used to by investing in US companies. In the US companies are reluctant to cut dividends if the company had a bad year, while in Europe the dividends are more likely to be cut in response to short term fluctuations in earnings.

Another difference with global dividend stocks is that most pay dividends on an annual or semi-annual basis, which decreases the compounding effect of your payments. In addition to that, a certain percentage of your foreign dividends could be withheld directly from your payment, which decreases your income and makes individual dividend investing in a tax-deferred account inefficient. For example dividends paid from Canadian Companies to US investors are subject to a 15% withholding tax. The IRS however does give a tax credit for the current 15% Canadian withholding tax for foreign investors.
Different countries might have different taxation treaties for taxing dividends, thus you might consider hiring a good tax advisor.

Speaking of accounting matters, most foreign companies do not report results using the US GAAP but using IFRS. This could create material differences when analyzing foreign stocks, as there could be distortions in the amounts of net income, balance sheet values and cash flows.

In addition to that, most US based corporations have operations on a global scale, which derive a large portion of their revenues from abroad. I found that the ten stocks with the highest weights in the S&P 500 index derive about 44% of their aggregate financial contributions from foreign operations then the overall contribution to financial performance would be similar for the index as a whole. Thus an investor, who is simply invested in an S&P 500 index fund, is also properly diversified internationally. Adding any further international stocks could increase my international exposure, without adding any further incremental benefits.

I focused my study only on international stocks trading on the US exchanges. This does provide some limitations to the pool of available investments, but the risks to opening a non-US brokerage account in a foreign currency, paying taxes to foreign governments and paying higher brokerage fees for trades are not worth the incremental rewards for individual investors.

The companies I selected were foreign-based corporations, which have increased their dividends for at least five consecutive years. I tried creating a diversified list of foreign stocks, in order to avoid putting all my eggs in one basket.

Consumer Discretionary

SJR Shaw Communications Inc. (Cl B)
TRI Thomson Reuters Corporation

Consumer Staples

BTI British American Tobacco PLC (ADS)
DEO Diageo (analysis)
UN/UL Unilever PLC/Unilever N.V.


BP BP PLC (ADS) (analysis)
ENB Enbridge Inc.
TK Teekay Corp.
TNP Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd.
TRP TransCanada Corp.


BMO Bank of Montreal
BNS Bank of Nova Scotia
CM Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
MFC Manulife Financial Corp.
PRE PartnerRe Ltd.
TD Toronto-Dominion Bank (analysis)

Health Care

ACL Alcon Inc.
AZN AstraZeneca PLC (ADS)
FMS Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. KGaA (ADS)
NVO Novo Nordisk A/S (ADS)


MITSY Mitsui & Co. Ltd. (ADS)


BHP BHP Billiton Ltd. (ADS)
SQM Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. (ADS)

Telecommunication Services

NTT Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. (ADS)
TEF Telefonica S.A. (ADS)
VOD Vodafone Group PLC (ADS)


NGG National Grid PLC (ADS)
VE Veolia Environnement (ADS)

The portfolio is not a recommendation to buy or sell any stocks, as it reflects my specific financial risk tolerance. Always do your own research before initiating a position in any financial instrument.

Full Disclosure: Long BP, TD and looking to enter other stocks mentioned here on dips

This post was featured on 209th Carnival of Personal Finance

Relevant Articles:

- Best Dividends Stocks for the Long Run
- International Over Diversification
- International Dividend Achievers for diversification
- My Dividend Growth Plan - Diversification

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