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Below are the top companies on our NLO Dividend Watch list. Our current list is down to 20 companies. The complete list of companies can be viewed here.

Revisiting the September 24th list has provided great insight into those stocks that have either underperformed or overperformed. The best performing stock from our September 24th list was Flushing Financial (FFIC). After being listed as the top 10 bank stocks on TheStreet.com, the shares of FFIC are finally getting some recognition.

Although we don't have much insight into FFIC, we suggest readers to look into our recent commentary on Northern Trust (NTRS). Northern Trust was listed #3 on TheStreet's 10 Banks That Defy The Great Recession. The #1 bank on that list was Bank of Hawaii (BOH). We wrote about this name back on January 12, 2009 and more recently in our article titled "The Anatomy of a Bear Market Trade." Another bank that made TheStreet.com's list and our list as well is US Bancorp (USB). Although we're typically averse to investing in banking institutions, we find the current environment favorable to regional and multinational banks.

The worst performing stock from our September 24th list was Colgate (CL). After falling 4% in two weeks, this name is becoming interesting at the current dividend yield. Colgate is in the undervalued range, according to Investment Quality Trends.

Top Five Performance Review

In our ongoing review of the NLO Dividend Watch List, we have taken the top five stocks on our list from October 9, 2009 and have check their performance one year later. The top five companies on that list were Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH), Weyco Group (NASDAQ:WEYS), Bard Corp. (NYSE:BCR), and Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE:PNY).

As a group, the top five companies on our Dividend List averaged a gain of 14.47% in the last year. This compares with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gain of 11.57% in the same one year time frame. The top performing stock of the group was Piedmont Natural Gas (PNY) which closes out the year with a gain of 23.81%. The worst performing stock was Bard Corp. (BCR) with a paltry gain of 6.47% in the one year time period. The graph below demonstrates that all stocks achieved 10% gains within six months of reaching a new low.

Click to enlarge:

Chart courtesy of Yahoo!Finance and Commodity Systems Inc (CSI)

October 8, 2010 Watch List

Symbol

Name

Price

% Yr Low

P/E

EPS (ttm)

Div/Shr

Yield

Payout Ratio

CL

Colgate-Palmolive Co.

74.90

2.43%

17.88

4.19

2.12

2.83%

51%

CAG

ConAgra Foods, Inc.

21.87

6.42%

13.84

1.58

0.92

4.21%

58%

NTRS

Northern Trust Corp.

48.35

6.73%

15.85

3.05

1.12

2.32%

37%

WST

West Pharmaceutical

35.11

7.24%

15.33

2.29

0.64

1.82%

28%

BBT

BB&T Corp.

23.58

8.56%

22.25

1.06

0.60

2.54%

57%

MDT

Medtronic

33.45

8.60%

10.59

3.16

0.90

2.69%

28%

BEC

Beckman Coulter

47.95

9.10%

22.83

2.10

0.72

1.50%

34%

SBSI

Southside Bancshares

18.98

9.14%

7.19

2.64

0.68

3.58%

26%

USB

U.S. BanCorp.

22.31

9.15%

16.05

1.39

0.20

0.90%

14%

WFSL

Washington Federal

15.27

9.31%

14.54

1.05

0.20

1.31%

19%


On our current list, we excluded companies that have no earnings and payout ratios in excess of 100%. Stocks that appear on our watch lists are not recommendations to buy. Instead, they are the starting point for doing your research and determining the best company to buy. Ideally, a stock that is purchased from this list is done after a considerable decline in the price and extensive due diligence.

Because our list has many great companies, we urged investors to filter for companies with less than a 50% payout ratio. This should minimize the risk of dividend reductions if earnings are to fall by half. If you understand the companies' history and their ability to pay the dividend, then payout ratios in excess of 50% may be considered. We suggest readers use the March 2009 low (or companies' most distressed level in the last 2 years) as the downside projection for investing. Our view is to embrace the worse case scenario prior to investing. The November 2008 to March 2009 time frame fits that description. It is important to place these companies on your own watch list so that when the opportunity arises, you can purchase them with a greater margin of safety.

Disclosure: Long NTRS, Long BEC

Source: The Top 10 Dividend Stocks This Week