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Dividend growth investing
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In a previous article I outlined three basic types of dividend growth stocks. One group of stocks included companies which are rapidly growing earnings through expansion. This could be through organic growth, acquisitions or through a combination of both. Most of these enterprises tend to reinvest a large portion of their earnings back into the business, which helps them to further generate higher profits. As a result, these companies tend to yield less than the average yield for S&P 500. In addition to that, because of their strong earnings growth, investors typically bid up these shares and they trade at rich valuations.

During a recession, however, investors start discounting future growth and indiscriminately start selling stocks off. This typically is the best time to purchase quality dividend growth stocks at attractive valuations. The tricky part is determining whether the long-term growth picture for the company is still intact. If investors manage to purchase these shares at attractive valuations, they stand a strong chance of generating market beating total returns as well as double or even triple digit yields on cost.

For example, investors who purchased $1,000 worth of shares of Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) at the end of 1984, and spent distributions each quarter, would be generating $1,321/year in dividends. By the end of 1984, Wal-Mart Stores had managed to boost dividends for ten consecutive years.

The companies on my wish list include:

Casey's General Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ:CASY), together with its subsidiaries, operates convenience stores under the Casey's General Store, HandiMart, and Just Diesel names in 11 Midwestern states, primarily Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois. The company has raised dividends for 13 years in a row. Over the past decade, it has managed to boost distributions by 20.20%/year. Earnings per share are expected to grow by 11.50%/year over the next five years. The company trades at 18.30 times earnings and yields 1.20%. (analysis)

Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (NYSE:FDO) operates a chain of self-service retail discount stores primarily for low and middle income consumers in the United States. The company has raised dividends for 36 years in a row. Over the past decade, it has managed to boost distributions by 12.70%/year. Earnings per share are expected to grow by 11%/year over the next five years. The company trades at 15.70 times earnings and yields 1.50%.

YUM Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM), together with its subsidiaries, operates as a quick service restaurant company in the United States and internationally. The company has raised dividends for 9 years in a row. Over the past five years, it has managed to boost distributions by 17.80%/year. Earnings per share are expected to grow by 13.60%/year over the next five years. The company trades at 19.70 times earnings and yields 2%

Visa Inc. (NYSE:V), a payments technology company, engages in the operation of retail electronic payments network worldwide. The company has raised dividends for 5 years in a row. Earnings per share are expected to grow by 18.30%/year over the next five years. The company trades at 51 times earnings and yields 0.80%.

These companies have shown solid earnings and dividend growth over the past decade. In addition, their earnings prospects for the foreseeable future look bright. This has made shares perennially overvalued, and thus makes it difficult to add to existing positions. If the market were to decline, it could probably bring these companies down to my value territory. If any of these companies stumbles in the short-term however, their stock prices could also fall to value territory. However, if any of these companies manages to raise dividends while the stock price remains flat or declines, they would be in buy territory for me. Buy territory would occur when stocks yields above 2.50% and trade at less than 20 times earnings.

Source: My Dividend Growth Stock Wish List