By Matt Doiron
One reason why a stock which pays a generous dividend may be trading fairly low in the market relative to its dividend payments- resulting in a high yield- is because the market is uncertain as to how well the company will perform in the future. If a company is doing well enough that it beating analyst earnings expectations, it may be because of short-term factors, which will still leave the business doing poorly in the long run. Or, it may be that the financial community is being more pessimistic on the stock than is warranted. Using data from Fidelity, here are five stocks which currently pay dividend yields of at least 4% and which beat EPS expectations in their most recent quarterly report by at least 10%:
Leading our list is $21 billion market cap offshore driller SeaDrill (SDRL). After underperforming sell-side expectations in the three previous quarters, SeaDrill beat in its most recent report. Now analysts have pushed their targets upward, to the point that the stock is valued at 12 times forward earnings estimates and at a five-year PEG ratio of 0.6 (analysts are generally optimistic on offshore drilling). With a quarterly dividend payment of nearly 90 cents per share, the dividend yield here is 8% and we think income investors should consider the stock.
We track quarterly 13F filings from hundreds of hedge funds and other notable investors as part of our work researching investment strategies. We have learned 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) and in fact our own portfolio based on this technique beat the S&P 500 by 33 percentage points in the last 11 months. Renaissance Technologies, founded by billionaire Jim Simons, owned 4.7 million shares of SeaDrill according to its most recent 13F (find Renaissance's favorite stocks).
Another energy-related company meeting our criteria is North American oil and gas company Encana (ECA). The dividend yield here is 4.5%, though as the company is based in Canada investors would have to look into how this dividend would be taxed in their situation. The stock is down 23% in the last year, but outperformed consensus earnings targets recently. Still, the forward P/E of 16 does represent a premium to other large oil and gas stocks. Billionaire Ken Griffin's Citadel Investment Group was buying Encana in the first quarter of 2013 (see Griffin's stock picks).
Compuware (CPWR) reported 10 cents per share of adjusted earnings in the first quarter of its fiscal year (the quarter ending in June) compared to consensus of 5 cents. The company had started paying a hefty dividend- the annual yield is 4.3% at current prices- earlier this year as part of a campaign to fend off a buyout by hedge fund Elliott Management. However, rumors continue to swirl that the company may be a takeover target, including by a strategic investor. This would provide a speculative upside if an investor concludes that the dividend is safe for now.
One company which certainly leans towards the "market uncertainty about the future" factor is Garmin (GRMN), as various smartphone apps would seem likely to destroy the GPS device provider's business entirely. The stock is down 5% in the last year, though revenue and earnings have actually only decreased a similar amount (and Q2 earnings came in well above expectations). We don't like the company in the long term, strategically, and 10% of the float here is held short, but with a dividend yield of 4.5% it does meet our criteria here.
Similarly, enterprise mail services company Pitney Bowes (PBI) would seem to be at huge risk as paper communication is replaced by electronic methods. Short sellers are responsible for 40% of the stock's float. However, Wall Street analysts are looking for only a small decline in earnings next year, with their projections implying a forward P/E of only 10, and Pitney Bowes did recently beat adjusted expectations for last quarter by about 20%. Even after recently cutting its dividend in half, the yield is over 4% though of course as with Garmin we would be concerned about its future prospects.