With dividend investing, I get a lot of cash every week/month/quarter/year. Since I started focusing exclusively on dividend growth investing 6-7 years ago, quarterly dividend income has been increasing exponentially. I get a lot of cash, which i have to deploy intelligently. By that I mean avoid overpaying, keeping diversification intact, and always being on the lookout for bargains that offer dividend growth. I therefore try to benefit from multiple levels of compounding - one is the dividend income that grows because companies earn more and hike dividends. The second is reinvesting those dividends into more quality companies selling at attractive valuations. Too much of a good thing can be a good thing too.
Lately, it has been very difficult to find good ideas which are also priced attractively. I'm really trying hard and had found some ideas. However, given elevated valuation levels, it is more difficult to deploy cash in the future. Many companies and investors have similar issues because they are drowning in cash, and money is so cheap too. I'm afraid this could create bad behavior, which will be punished a few years down the road at the next recession.
Cash might burn a hole in corporate boards' pockets. If they pay out dividends, that could be smarter than buying back stock at inflated valuations. For example, companies like General Electric (NYSE:GE) spent tens of billions repurchasing shares at $30 between 2004-2007, only to issue a bunch of shares and warrants at $23/share. This is also smarter than bidding for assets today and paying high prices in order to deploy that cash without much margin of safety on the returns of those assets.
When you have a lot of cash on hand, the odds that you will do something stupid with it increase exponentially. Even Warren Buffett is not immune to this folly - examples include investments in United Airlines and Salomon Bros in the late 1980s. He was drowning in cash in the late 1980s and put capital to use at suboptimal prices in assets of questionable quality. I'm not saying this to predict a crash, since I don't forecast market or economic directions. It is a fool's game to make predictions about prices, the economy, etc. However, i am just venting how more difficult it is to find quality companies that are selling at good prices today. This increases the opportunity that I do something that is bad today, but looks cheap because I am drowning in cash.
Either way, I believe that a long-term buyer of equities today, with a 20-year horizon, would do much better than someone who holds cash waiting for lower prices. For example, ever since late 2009, I have been hearing from investors that they are accumulating cash and waiting for lower prices. I have also been hearing from those who are bearish on everything. These people seem to forget that over time, businesses become more valuable, as they plow more money in their operations and earn more. Then they pay out more to shareholders. That doesn't happen every year of course, but over time, I believe that as productivity gains, increases in numbers of consumers and reinvestment in operations will lead to stakes in quality corporations becoming more valuable. Therefore, it makes sense to put money to work as soon as you have it, and then hold on for 20 years. This strategy of regular dollar cost averaging worked even for those who started right around the Great Depression, for example. There are always decent values out there, which would start the dividend compounding process for the investor. It is that the investor has to do the work to identify them. A few quality companies selling at decent prices today include:
|Company||Ticker||Yrs Div Increase||5 year DG||FWD P/E||Yield||Review|
|Target||(NYSE:TGT)||47||21.40%||16.10||3.60%||analysis of TGT|
|Exxon Mobil||(NYSE:XOM)||32||9.70%||13.20||2.70%||analysis of XOM|
|Philip Morris Intl||(NYSE:PM)||6||28.40%||16.60||4.10%||analysis of PM|
|McDonald's||(NYSE:MCD)||38||13.90%||17.50||3.20%||analysis of MCD|
|Baxter International||(NYSE:BAX)||8||16.40%||14.60||2.80%||analysis of BAX|
|Aflac||(NYSE:AFL)||31||8.10%||10.20||2.30%||analysis of AFL|
|IBM||(NYSE:IBM)||19||14.30%||10.60||2.40%||analysis of IBM|
|Lockheed Martin||(NYSE:LMT)||11||21.20%||14.60||3.20%||analysis of LMT|
|Diageo||(NYSE:DEO)||15||7.20%||19.80||2.70%||analysis of DEO|
|Wal-Mart||(NYSE:WMT)||41||14.20%||14.70||2.50%||analysis of WMT|
Since I get cash every week/month/quarter from my investments and my other income sources, I am well positioned for a stock decline. In fact, I took a big advantage of the declines in February, during which I maxed out my SEP IRA, and put one third of the maximum for the 401k. Plus I bought shares in taxable accounts. I have been opportunistically looking for companies which are temporarily battered by short-term noise for decent entry points. This is how I managed to initiate a small position in Accenture (NYSE:ACN). It is too bad I didn't put much in a Roth IRA. Of course, perfectionist thinking is dangerous in investing, as it can also cause folly that can lead to stupid actions on my part.
Disclosure: The author is long ACN, TGT, XOM, PM, MCD, AFL, IBM, DEO, WMT, BAX. The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it. The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.