Monday, July 7, 2014

Are you drowning in cash?

With dividend investing, I get a lot of cash every week/month/quarter/year. Since I started focusing exclusively on dividend growth investing 6-7 years ago, quarterly dividend income has been increasing exponentially. I get a lot of cash, which i have to deploy intelligently. By that I mean avoiding overpaying, keeping diversification intact, and always being on the lookout for bargains that offer dividend growth. I therefore try to benefit from multiple levels of compounding - one is the dividend income that grows because companies earn more and hike dividends. The second is reinvesting those dividends into more quality companies selling at attractive valuations. Too much of a good can be a good thing too.

Lately, it has been very difficult to find good ideas, which are also priced attractively. I am really trying hard, and had found some ideas. However, given elevated valuation levels, it is more difficult to deploy cash in the future. Many companies and investors have similar issues, because they are drowning in cash, and money is so cheap too. I am afraid this could create bad behavior, which will be punished a few years down the road at the next recession.

Cash might burn a hole in corporate boards pockets. If they pay out dividends, that could be smarter than buying back stock at inflated valuations. For example, companies like General Electric (GE) spent tens of billions repurchasing shares at $30 between 2004 – 2007, only to issue a bunch of shares and warrants at $23/share. This is also smarter than bidding for assets today and paying high prices in order to deploy that cash, without much margin of safety on the returns of those assets.

When you have a lot of cash on hand, the odds that u will do something stupid with it increase exponentially. Even Warren Buffett is not immune to this folly - examples include investments in United Airlines and Salomon Bros in the late 1980s. He was drowning in cash in the late 1980s and put capital to use at suboptimal prices in assets of questionable quality. I am not saying this to predict a crash, since i don’t forecast market or economic directions. It is a fools game to make predictions about prices, the economy etc. However, i am just venting how more difficult it is to find quality companies that are selling at good prices today. This increases the opportunity that I do something that is bad today, but looks cheap because i am drowning in cash.

Either way, I believe that for a long-term buyer of equities today, with a 20 year horizon would do much better than someone who holds cash waiting for lower prices. For example, ever since late 2009, I have been hearing from investors that they are accumulating cash and waiting for lower prices. I have also been hearing from those who are bearish on everything. These people seem to forget that over time, businesses become more valuable, as they plow more money in their operations and earn more. Then they pay out more to shareholders. That doesn’t happen every year of course, but over time, I believe that productivity gains, increases in numbers of consumers and reinvestment in operations will lead to stakes in quality corporations becoming more valuable. Therefore, it makes sense to put money to work as soon as you have it, and then hold on for 20 years. This strategy of regular dollar cost averaging worked even for those who started right around the Great Depression for example. There are always decent values out there, which would start the dividend compounding process for the investor. It is that the investor has to do the work to identify them. A few quality companies selling at decent prices today include:

Yrs Div Increase
5 year DG
Fwd P/E
Exxon Mobil
Philip Morris Intl
Baxter International
Lockheed Martin

Since I get cash every week/month/quarter from my investments and my other income sources, I am well positioned for a stock decline. In fact, I took a big advantage of the declines in February, during which i maxed out SEP IRA, and put one third of the maximum for the 401k. Plus I bought shares in taxable accounts. I have been opportunistically looking for companies which are temporarily battered by short-term noise for decent entry points. This is how I managed to initiate a small position in Accenture (ACN). It is too bad I didn’t put much in Roth IRA. Of course, perfectionist thinking is dangerous in investing, as it can also cause folly, that can lead to stupid actions on my part.

What are you buying these days?

Full Disclosure: Long ACN, TGT, XOM, PM, MCD, AFL, IBM, DEO, WMT

Relevant Articles:

How to find long term dividend stock ideas
Six Compounding Machines for Long Term Dividend Investors
How to become a successful dividend investor
Best Brokerage Accounts for Dividend Investors
How to retire in 10 years with dividend stocks


  1. With the holidays and house projects I haven't run my screen yet for July. My guess when I do will pop up similar to your list. I will probably focus on the Aerospace/Defense sector as I don't have any positions there yet.

  2. Very nice article, DGI. I am struggling as well finding some good value in today's markets. I bought P&G recently at a yield-on-cost of ca. 3.25% and consider this as a good investment given the upper investment grade character of the stock.

  3. DGI,
    Thanks for the list. I am initiating a small position in MMM today to get more exposure to the Industrials sector even though it is slightly over valued. I really like MMM and a small position helps me to keep a close watch on a company and buy during pull backs.

    Looking at the list you provided, I have full positions in TGT, MCD, BAX, and AFL. I could add to my position in WMT, or start positions in XOM, IBM, LMT, or DEO (PM is not an option for personal reasons). I like to use Peter Lynch's ideal PEG ratio of one or less to find bargains, and WMT (1.81), IBM (1.22), and LMT (1.65) come the closest with ratios less than 2 per It's very hard to find anything below one these days. TGT comes in at 1.25. Other companies in my portfolio that look inexpensive compared to the S&P are DIS (PE=22.3, PEG = 1.3, but with only a 1% dividend) and AAPL (PE = 15.7, PEG = 1.24, dividend = 2%), but neither of those fits your criteria.

    The biggest mistake that I have made in the last year involved LMT. I had initiated a position that increased in price very quickly. I put a stop loss on the stock when I went on vacation last summer. Long story short, the stock came down, triggered the stop, and then went on to increase 60%. Ouch! Stop loss eh? Stop gain is more like it!

  4. Unilever looks good in the $40-$46 range - currently 18X forward earnings, yield of 3.4%, annual dividend increases since 1999.

  5. Also bought 10 shares of IBM today after doing some more research. I have been considering IBM for a while and decided to pull the trigger. Between that and the 15 shares of MMM, my annual dividends increased by $95.30. Gotta like that!

  6. My portfolio is throwing over $13K a month in dividends - I have it worked out so it is over $3K a week. I have been buying more shares of CB, TUP, DPS, PG, T and MCD as the new money hits my brokerage.

    1. Care to share the yield of your portfolio?

    2. 3.56%. Yield on cost 6.18%. 125 stocks that pay quarterly dividend (500 paydays) and 3 that pay monthly (36 paydays) - avg of 44 a month. All the dividends got into the brokerage and I buy again when it goes over $5K. I get 5 free trades a month and do 2 to 3 buys a month. Today added 165 shares of TIS @$30.85 - yield 4.46% with dividends received from BAX, KMB, RAI and WR that hit the last couple days. Friday will do another $4K buy with my payday dough - probably UVV to buy right after it goes x dividend.

    3. $4.4M portfolio. Not too shabby.

  7. DGI,

    I'm not drowning in cash, but I can think of worse problems to have. :)

    I've been looking at IBM and V this month, although both have been on a bit of a run over the last week or so. GE is also on my watch list.

    I think many in your list up there make a lot of sense right now. Unfortunately, I find myself heavily allocated to quite a few of them. I definitely have enough TGT and PM for my comfort level right now, but I think those are probably two of the most compelling values out there right now.

    Best wishes!

  8. DGI - thanks for the list. I recently bought TGT and AFL but have been watching BAX, IBM, DEO, WMT. I will likely pick one of these in the coming days as I am drowning in cash and simply need to put some of that money to work for me. Long term, I think any one of these are decent buys at the moment and that is all I can ask for right now.

    Cheers to dividends and growth or at the very least stable dividends. :) AFFJ

  9. Looks like you have a good list of fair valued candidates there worthy of investment at current price levels (in my opinion). I'm also hearing a lot of investors say that there are no good values out there so they are accumulating cash. In my opinion it is better to go ahead and deploy that cash on the fair valued companies you can currently find rather than waiting for who knows how long for the bargains to come back. Over the long term time frame, I think investors buying companies at close to fair value will do just fine.


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