The S&P 500 has had a strong upward rise over the last four years, including a sustained increase for the year-to-date in 2013. This pushed dividend yields lower throughout the market, meaning investors can't buy as large of an income stream with their money.
Despite that, there have been some blue-chip stocks that have missed out on part of this increase. Here are five of them that trade at valuations that are lower than the rest of the market.
Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX)
Chevron's stock performance over the past four years has been admirable, but most of the increase in price occurred in in the 2009-2011 period. The stock has been fairly flat and choppy since then, and currently offers a dividend yield of 3.14%, a five-year dividend growth rate of approximately 9%, and a dividend payout ratio of under 40%. The dividend is likely to increase this quarter.
Cost over-runs at the enormous $50+ billion Australian Gorgon LNG gas project, as well as continued litigation risk from their ceased Ecuadorian operations seem to be keeping the stock valuation in check. Chevron has a pristine balance sheet, and gas output in 2015 from the Gorgon project should be a driver for growth.
Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC)
Intel's #1 problem is that they have the dominant position in the softening PC market. As the world's largest semiconductor producer, they use their immense capital resources to keep ahead of AMD with the tick-tock method, but ARM has strongly outperformed Intel in the proliferating market of mobile computing devices. This leaves Intel holding the bag in the PC market, but fortunately they do have strong positioning in the growing server market.
Another strike against the company is that their billions spent on acquisitions over the last several years doesn't seem to be having a material benefit. I pointed out in my 2010 analysis of the company that their McAfee acquisition, at 40 times earnings, doesn't seem particularly justifiable unless several bullish assumptions all take place.
The company offers a hefty dividend yield of 4.1%, the most recent increase was over 7% (which I believe is a more practical measure of dividend growth at this point compared to their much larger five-year dividend growth rate), and so with a P/E of only 10, the company doesn't require almost any core growth to offer investors a shot at double-digit returns. The company likely isn't looking at a whole lot of growth, but since most of their cash goes to investors in the form of dividends and share buybacks (which fuels EPS/dividend growth), Intel stock is still in a reasonably appealing position.
Oneok Partners LP (NYSE:OKS)
NGL prices haven't been helping Oneok, but over the long term, their $5 billion in projects seem to present a clear path to growth over the next several years. I was a bit wary of this MLP back in 2011, when the unit price was soaring. But after a flat unit price of 2012 and 2013 along with continued distribution growth, OKS is looking a bit more attractive compared to the market these days.
With a 5.21% distribution yield and 6% annualized distribution growth over the last five years, the partnership is a strong income producer. Pipelines represent consistent, wide-moat infrastructure investments that are perfect for dividend investors.
For those interested in MLPs, two other partnerships that I'm bullish on (and own) for yield and growth, are Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE:KMI) (full analysis) and Energy Transfer Equity LP (NYSE:ETE) (recent analysis).
Air Products and Chemicals (NYSE:APD)
With 30 years of consecutive dividend growth, APD has had some consistency. This company is the largest supplier of hydrogen to companies in the world, and generally signs long-term contracts with customers. The focus recently has been on cost-cutting and selling of non-core business units, and so their revenue for 2012 wasn't as strong as 2011.
The dividend yield is a decent 3.31%, the dividend growth rate over the last 5 years has averaged more than 10% per year, and the balance sheet is quite strong with an interest coverage ratio of 10.
BHP Billiton, headquartered in Australia, is the largest mining company in the world. Two ADRs (with equal economic and voting rights) trade on the NYSE: BBL and BHP. BBL trades at a discount to BHP and therefore offers a higher dividend yield.
The market has boomed in 2013 while the stock price of BHP Billiton has fallen. On April 17th alone, BBL fell over 4.5%. The reason is, commodity prices have fallen compared to 2011, and institutional investors have pulled back a bit. That leaves BBL ADR shares with a 4.2% dividend yield. The 2007-2012 period saw annualized dividend growth of nearly 19% per year in USD, although the 2012-2013 dividend change has so far been 3.6% in USD.
Looking at this from a long-term view rather than a short-term one, BHP Billiton offers a strong combination of yield and growth, has highly diversified mining operations, and will continue to offer materials that the world needs. At a P/E ratio of 15, the company is on sale compared to the market.
A Snapshot of the Market
The Shiller P/E of the market is currently in the range of 22-23, which places it well above its historical average of under 17, but lower than it was prior to the latest recession. Using the Shiller P/E as the metric of choice, the market's overall valuation has been fairly flat over the last three years as both earnings and stock prices have risen.
While these five investments don't necessarily represent recommended picks, they may be good places to look. The most recent issue of the dividend newsletter included three other stock picks that seem to be trading at reasonable valuations. Even in this moderately highly valued market, values can still be found.
Good Dividend Growth Candidates Often Have:
- A sum of dividend yield and expected future EPS growth that sums to 10 or higher. Assuming a constant stock valuation over time, the sum of yield and EPS growth is the best estimate for long-term returns, which can be quantitatively demonstrated with methods like the Dividend Discount Model.
- A sturdy balance sheet with an interest coverage ratio of 8 or higher. A company with a balance sheet that's stronger than its peers has flexibility to make opportunistic investments, to take advantage of low interest rates to temporarily increase their debt and buy back shares, and to weather major economic downturns. Of course, for asset-heavy businesses like utilities or MLPs, a much lower interest coverage ratio is allowed and expected, and the credit rating becomes a more relevant assessment.
- A specific plan for the future. Rather than operating quarter by quarter, successful companies plan years ahead. Look for companies that proudly explain their plans over the next five years or so, including specific projects or specific growth targets and explanations of how they'll meet those targets. Blue-chip stocks that have mild to moderate growth and that spend much of their money on dividends and buybacks are often consistent enough for investors and managers to make fairly accurate predictions about EPS and dividend growth over a business cycle.
Full Disclosure: As of this writing, I am long CVX, ETE, and KMI.
You can see my dividend portfolio here.