By Matt Doiron
With interest rates low, many saves and investors are looking at dividend stocks as potential sources of income or in general as sources of yield. Billionaire Leon Cooperman of Omega Advisors is often followed for his skill in picking stocks (find many of Cooperman's long equity positions from the end of September), and in the third quarter of the year his fund owned several stocks with medium to high yields. Here are five stocks that were among the twenty largest positions in Cooperman's 13F portfolio for the end of September and pay dividend yields of at least 3.5%:
Linn Energy LLC (LINE) was actually one of Cooperman's top five picks, with a position of 4.7 million shares. Linn is a $7.8 billion market cap oil and gas exploration and production company which primarily operates in the onshore U.S. At current prices, its dividend yield comes out to 7.6%. The company's quarterly report for Q3 showed revenue coming in over 50% higher than the same period in 2011, and it has been good about increasing dividend payments in the last few years. The company does face commodity price risks, but other than that it looks like a good income pick.
Omega reported owning 5 million shares of Atlas Pipeline Partners, L.P. (APL) at the end of September. Atlas is also in the energy sector, but operates in the midstream of the oil and gas production cycle as it is best known for gathering, processing, and transporting natural gas and natural gas liquids in the U.S. It also pays a dividend yield of over 7%, but these payments have been less consistent: the November 2008 dividend payment was 96 cents, but two quarters later the payment had fallen to 15 cents. The stock price is down slightly over the last year, and we'd be more wary of buying this stock.
The fund's ownership of Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI) ticked up slightly to a total of 4.7 million shares. At current prices Kinder Morgan- another oil and gas pipeline company- pays a dividend yield of 4.5%. Fellow billionaire Stephen Mandel's Lone Pine Capital was another major holder of the stock (see more stocks that Lone Pine Capital owns). However, the stock trades at 25 times forward earnings estimates and is also widely shorted. It might not be a good buy, though it's possible that the company will benefit from its acquisition of El Paso.
KKR Financial Holdings LLC (KFN) is another high-yield stock, with a dividend yield of 8.5%, and Omega had owned 13.9 million shares of the company at the end of the third quarter. The KKR name is best known for its private equity investments but this company is more oriented toward debt including junk debt. It is priced right at the book value of its equity at a market capitalization of $1.8 billion and has been seeing much stronger numbers on the top and bottom lines. It's not a particularly safe investment given the debt exposure, but that is a very high yield and we can see why investors might want to take a closer look at the company.
Cooperman and his team reported a position of 2.9 million shares in Williams Companies, Inc. (WMB), another pipeline company (it is focused on natural gas and natural gas liquids). Dividend payments here fluctuate, though we do get a yield of 3.8% if we annualize the most recent payment and it appears that payments tend to increase or remain constant rather than decline. However, earnings came in 43% lower last quarter than a year earlier and the earnings multiples are quite high. Andreas Halvorsen's Viking Global initiated a large position during the third quarter. We're not sure that the stock is a good value, and the yield is lower than those of the other stocks we've discussed.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.