The German economy recovered quickly from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and continues to remain strong despite the ongoing fiscal crises in other parts of Europe. The largest economy in Europe is also highly export-oriented. Hence, many German companies-- especially the larger ones-- depend more on overseas markets than their domestic and European markets. Even the smaller Mittelstand firms focus on exports and hold leadership positions in the making of industrial components that they supply to the larger firms.
Germany exports about 40% of its goods to Europe and the rest to other parts of the world. Currently the unemployment rate remains at a 20-year low of 6.8% and is projected to fall to 6.6% next year. Exports are projected to rise by 1.6% this year but increase to 5.0% next year. The overall economy will grow by just 0.5% this year per the German government according to a Reuters report.
Investors looking to gain exposure to European firms can consider some of the German companies due to the strength of the German economy. Another important factor that makes German firms attractive is the rising dividend payments. A report published last month by Deutsche Welle noted that German blue-chips will pay out a record amount in dividends to their shareholders this year. From the report:
Germany's DAX-listed stock market heavyweights were planning to pay out a total of 27.6 billion euros ($35.65 billion) in dividends to their shareholders, a study by the auditing and consulting company Ernst & Young showed on Friday.
The figure marked a new record, surpassing the 27.3 billion euros granted on aggregate in 2008. "The DAX companies continue to be in good shape despite the crisis in many parts of Europe," Ernst & Young partner Thomas Harms said in a statement.
A closer look at the data revealed a rather heterogeneous picture, showing Deutsche Telekom shareholders as the biggest winners, with the German telecommunications giant willing to spend some 3 billion euros in terms of dividends, following its performance last year.
Source: German blue-chip companies pay record dividends, Deutsche Welle
Not all the DAX-listed companies are increasing their dividends. BASF (OTCQX:BASFY), the world's largest chemicals company has announced to increase its dividend per share from 2.50 euros in 2011 to 2.60 euros in 2012. Among the notable dividend increases, tiremaker Continental AG (OTCPK:CTTAY) increased its dividends by half on a percentage basis and clothing company Adidas (OTCQX:ADDYY) reported a 35% increase in dividends for 2012. Commerzbank (OTCPK:CRZBY), Lufthansa (OTCQX:DLAKY) and ThyssenKrupp (OTC:TYEKY) will not pay a dividend. According to Ernst & Young, six firms have no dividend changes and seven will pay less than last year.
Ten DAX components to consider for long-term investment are noted below with their current dividend yields:
1.Company: BASF SE
Current Dividend Yield: 3.84%
2.Company:RWE AG (OTCPK:RWEOY)
Current Dividend Yield: 7.41%
3.Company: E.ON SE (OTCPK:EONGY)
Current Dividend Yield: 5.83%
E.ON ADR goes ex-dividend on 5/1/2013 with a dividend payment of $1.42 per share. Withholding taxes of 26.375% will be deducted for U.S. residents.
4.Company: Allianz SE (OTCQX:AZSEY)
Current Dividend Yield: 2.99%
5.Company: Continental AG
Current Dividend Yield: 1.71%
6.Company: Deutsche Telekom AG (OTCQX:DTEGY)
Current Dividend Yield: 7.25%
7.Company: Henkel AG & Co KGaA (OTCPK:HENKY)
Current Dividend Yield: 1.56%
8.Company: Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co (NYSE:FMS)
Current Dividend Yield: 0.91%
Sector: Health Care Providers & Services
9.Company: Adidas AG
Current Dividend Yield: 1.25%
Sector:Textiles, Apparel & Luxury Goods
10.Company: Linde AG (OTCPK:LNEGY)
Current Dividend Yield: 1.77%
Note: Dividend yields noted are as of April 26, 2013. Data is known to be accurate from sources used.Please use your own due diligence before making any investment decisions.
Disclosure: Long EONGY, RWEOY, HENKY