5 “Dead Money” Dividend Aristocrats To Avoid

Brett Owens, Chief Investment Strategist
Updated: March 31, 2017

The S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats are a group of stocks beloved as “widows-and-orphans” investments – can’t-miss companies whose stability and rock-solid dividends will keep you into old age and will exist long after you’ve passed. It’s a reassuring thought, but ultimately, it’s an illusion. Like the broader S&P 500 and the stock market as a whole, some of its members are good investments, and some – including five losers I plan on highlighting today – are not.

I love the term “dividend aristocrat” … but only because it’s more honest than most people realize. The word “aristocrat” can refer to people who are many things, including superior, better able, smarter and wiser. That’s fair. Many dividend aristocrats truly are among the best companies in the world, and the best stewards of your investment money. …
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3 Reasons Why This Market Still Has Room to Run

Michael Foster, Investment Strategist
Updated: March 30, 2017

The S&P 500 now sports a price-to-earnings ratio of more than 26—a huge number at a time when corporate profits are actually down more than 5% since 2014.

You read that right. Investors appear to be overpaying for falling profits.

Look closer and things seem scarier. In August 2000, at the height of the dot-com bubble, the S&P 500 had a P/E ratio of 28, just 6% above its current level. If the stock market continues to perform as it has in the last few months, we could get to that same level by summer.

Then look at volatility.

The CBOE Volatility Index, often called the “fear indicator,” is currently 13 and was below 10 just a few months ago. That’s its lowest point in history
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Three Brazen Insiders Buying Their Own 10%+ Yields

Brett Owens, Chief Investment Strategist
Updated: March 29, 2017

There’s been a mini-wave of insider buying in the BDC (business development company) sector. This is worthy of our attention for three reasons:

  1. These firms pay fat 10%+ yields,
  2. Their stocks are trading far below book value, and
  3. The buyers are all founders who know exactly where their corporate bodies are buried.

So do they also know when their stock is too cheap?

We’ll analyze each case in a moment. First, let’s consider why – contrary to popular belief – certain BDCs may indeed be poised to roll higher alongside interest rates.

Traditionally, BDCs suffer as rates rise because they generate income from fixed rate investments. (Bad when rates rise). But that’s changed in recent years, with more BDCs extending floating-rate funding. (Good when rates rise). …
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2 Stealth Fund Buys for 6.7%+ Yields and Quick 15% Gains

Michael Foster, Investment Strategist
Updated: March 28, 2017

We might be at the start of a correction. This doesn’t mean it’s time to sell, but it does mean it’s time to be really, really choosy.

Just look at financial stocks. I’ve been closely following this sector and timing buys and sells for myself based on the market’s irrational overreactions to news.

That means I recommended buying financials in August 2016, then recommended avoiding the sector at the end of last month. Here’s what’s happened since then:

Financials Drop, Utilities Jump

So financials have underperformed everything else. But it’s still too early to jump into the sector, since it’s still up 21% over the past year.

I’m not the only one who feels this way about financial stocks. …
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3 Big-Name Stocks With Dangerous Dividends

Brett Owens, Chief Investment Strategist
Updated: March 27, 2017

Today I’m bringing you a round of good news … and a round of bad news.

The good? So far, this year’s been better than last for dividend hounds (like us) hoping to dodge a nasty payout cut.

According to Standard & Poor’s, 85 American companies cut their payouts in January and February. That’s still a big number, but it’s down sharply from 119 in the first two months of 2016.

That’s partly because we’re another year out from the oil crash, and the first two months of 2016 saw some big cuts in the sector. ConocoPhillips (COP), for example, dropped its first cut in 25 years—to the tune of 67%—on shareholders, while Precision Drilling (PD) tossed its payout entirely.

The bad news? Just because the goo is hanging in just below $50 a barrel and the number of cutters is down doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods. …
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Better Than Cash: 8% Payouts “Hedged” Against a Market Pullback

Brett Owens, Chief Investment Strategist
Updated: March 25, 2017

If you’re worried about a pullback, I don’t blame you. But don’t sit in cash and earn nothing when you can hedge your portfolio AND collect yields up to 8%.

Let’s talk about a couple of funds that use a well-worn options tactic – writing “covered calls” – that can generate generous yields typically between 7% and 9%. Conveniently, you never have to deal with the complications of options contracts – these funds do all the work for you!

But, why covered calls, and why now?

Covered calls are an options strategy in which you sell call option contracts against stocks you hold. Selling the call options generates income, called a “premium.” From there, a couple things can happen. If your stock reaches the strike price of the call option, you’re obligated to sell your shares to the call buyer (but you still keep the premium). …
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5 Can’t-Miss Dividend Hikes Coming This Spring

Brett Owens, Chief Investment Strategist
Updated: March 24, 2017

“If you’re not growing, you’re dying” is a well-worn phrase slathered all over the business and investment world, for good reason: It’s true. And it strikes a particularly loud chord when it comes to dividend investing. If your retirement portfolio is full of stocks that are paying the same dividend they did years ago, then, you’re certainly losing the war with inflation, and your nest egg probably isn’t performing to its full potential.

But if your retirement portfolio is stuffed full of companies like the five dividend growers I’ll share with you today, then you’ll stay ahead of the pack, year after year.

The easiest way to understand the importance of dividend growth is to simply look at inflation. Let’s say you bought something for $1 in 2016. …
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Yellen Just Slapped a “Buy” Rating on These 8% Yields

Brett Owens, Chief Investment Strategist
Updated: March 22, 2017

As recently as last week, many high quality closed-end funds (CEFs) were being neglected thanks to the headline worry that higher rates would hurt them.

That nonsense stopped abruptly when Fed chair Janet Yellen basically slapped a “Buy” rating on the entire sector! Her dovish outlook was taken as a cue that CEF investors could breathe easy and, once again, collect their 8% yields in peace.

This cue was unnecessary. For starters, anyone who mistook Yellen’s Fed as hawkish was, well, mistaken. And has been for years.

Also, higher rates don’t really hurt CEFs.

The theory scares people because it sounds true. Closed-ends have the benefit of borrowing money at Libor to lever up their returns. Libor is tied closely to the Fed funds rate. So, the thinking goes, higher Fed rates will end the “cheap money” party that benefits CEFs. …
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Buy These 3 REITs While They’re Still Ridiculously Cheap

Michael Foster, Investment Strategist
Updated: March 22, 2017

There’s no way around it: the S&P 500 now has a P/E ratio of more than 26 going into the first earnings season of 2017, and even the “safest” bets are starting to look scary.

Unless we see massive profit growth all around, there’s a real risk this bull market is going to stutter—or worse.

So where do you go for value? It’s getting harder than ever, but there is one corner of the market that got way ahead of the S&P 500 and has since taken a step back. I’m talking about real estate investment trusts (REITs).

And now, there are three REITs that combined provide over 9% in income with over 200% average dividend coverage. That means they could double their payouts and …
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3 BDCs Paying up to 11.8%: 1 to Buy, 2 to Sell

Brett Owens, Chief Investment Strategist
Updated: March 21, 2017

The Federal Reserve just dropped the first of three potential interest-rate bombs on Wall Street – a quarter-rate hike that was supposed to send rate-sensitive assets scurrying. Instead, blue-chip dividend stocks, MLPs, REITs – almost everything headed higher, including the trio of heavy-yielding business development companies (BDCs) I want to show you today.

Investors often look at interest rates and dividend-yielding stocks as a water-and-oil relationship. You know the drill. If interest rates go up, and Treasuries and other bonds begin to yield more in response, they’ll look more attractive versus similar (and even slightly higher-yielding) dividend stocks.

After all, as secure as even the bluest, chippiest blue-chip stocks might seem, they pale in comparison to the full faith and credit of the United States government. …
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