By Matt Doiron
We track quarterly 13F filings from hundreds of hedge funds and other notable investors, including billionaire Ken Fisher's asset management firm Fisher Asset Management. We've found that these filings can be useful sources of information for investors, and have found that the most popular small-cap stocks among hedge funds earn an average excess return of 18 percentage points per year (learn more about our small cap strategy).
Fisher Asset Management recently filed its 13F for the second quarter of 2013, disclosing many of its long equity positions as of the end of June. We have gone through the filing and picked out some of the fund's stock picks with high dividend yields (and therefore possibly of interest to income investors). Read on for our quick take on three high yield stocks with Fisher reported owning in its most recent filing, see the full 13F on the SEC's website, or compare these picks to those in previous filings.
Fisher and his team reported owning 1.1 million shares of Altria Group (NYSE:MO), which was formed from the split of Philip Morris to focus on the more mature American market. At current prices the cigarette stock pays a dividend yield of about 5%, as do some of its peers including Lorillard (NYSE:LO) and Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI). In the second quarter of 2013, Altria's revenue and earnings were about flat versus a year earlier, as might be expected for a mature business such as cigarettes. With a trailing earnings multiple of 16, Altria isn't quite a value stock given its recent performance but wouldn't really be called too overvalued either. Defensive minded investors should note that the stock's beta is only 0.5.
For purposes of comparison, Lorillard actually grew its revenue by 6%, and its net income by 10%, during Q2 from its levels a year ago (Reynolds American's performance, similarly to Altria's, was about flat). Each of these two peers also carries little market exposure given their industry. Interestingly, in terms of earnings multiples it is Lorillard- the company which at least at this point has been doing better financially- which trades at a discount to the other two. It is valued at 13 times trailing earnings, while we've mentioned that Altria's P/E is 16. Reynolds American carries trailing and forward P/Es of 18 and 15 respectively. We'd imagine that the situation is not quite so simple, but certainly Lorillard seems to be at least as interesting from an income perspective with a value case for the stock as well.
AT&T (NYSE:T) was another of Fisher's high yield stock picks with the filing disclosing ownership of 6.4 million shares. Like cigarettes, telecommunications stocks tend to be characterized by high yields and low betas. AT&T is certainly no exception on either front: it has been steadily increasing its quarterly dividend payment for years, and now offers a yield of 5.1%, with the stock featuring a beta of 0.3. Business has been about flat for AT&T, with growth in wireless services being offset by a decline in wireline business. Financials are little changed as a result, though with a forward P/E of 13 and significant buybacks at least recently the company does not need to grow its net income much beyond that point to be competitive on a value basis.
The fund had a little over 2 million shares of Senior Housing Properties Trust (NYSE:SNH) in its portfolio at the beginning of July. Senior Housing Properties is a $4.7 billion market cap real estate investment trust with a focus on assisted and independent living retirement communities. Because real estate investment trusts receive favorable tax treatment as long as they distribute a large share of taxable income to shareholders, they often have high dividend yields. Senior Housing Properties has been reliably increasing its dividend payments for the last ten years and currently pays a 5.8% annual yield. While funds from operations are increasing, however, the share count is increasing faster resulting in lower FFO per share. As a result we would be concerned about the sustainability of current dividend payments.