For those of you caught up in the antics on Capitol Hill, you may not have noticed something this week that I found quite extraordinary. As of Friday morning, I was able to identify 18 companies that resumed paying or increased their dividends in this holiday-shortened week. Here they are:
|El Paso Pipeline Partners||EPB||12.5%|
|Spectra Energy Partners||SEP||2.5%|
The list is broad and covers all shapes and sizes of companies, from mega-cap Tech company Intel (INTC) to companies many of us have never heard of. In any event, after a year of record slashing, with many companies cutting or eliminating their dividends, it is nice to see more optimism. I saw chatter of the resumption of share repurchase programs as well.
While it would be nice to say that this is the kind of sign that suggests a higher market, I wouldn't go that far. While on the one hand, capital-rich companies (though not all of these hikers fit that bill), are in a position to reward shareholders, there is a whole plethora of companies that need capital. In the table below are equity deals that were priced just this week:
|El Paso Pipeline Partners||EPB||$236|
|Hersha Hospitality Trust||HT||$155|
|Nordic American Tanker||NAT||$122|
|Fifth Street Finance||FSC||$77|
|China Marine Food Group||CMFO||$30|
It's so cliche (and self-serving) for stock pickers like me to say that this will be a year for the stock pickers, but it really is shaping up that way out of the gate. I am sticking to my strategy that I have shared since 2007 of focusing on companies with strong balance sheets and/or defensive businesses.