Recently, David Van Knapp--one of Seeking Alpha's stalwart Investing for Income contributors--noticed an interesting thread unfolding within the comment section of one of his articles: SA commentors discussing stocks that they believed might have dividends that weren't sustainable. Since Van Knapp is also an ardent and active member of Seeking Alpha's income investing community, he added this request to the thread:
We can all help each other in this respect. Does anyone have a stock commonly held by dividend growth investors whose dividend they think is in peril? If so, via article or comment, why not help out this community by naming the stock and giving your reasons why you think the dividend may be frozen or cut. If we all share ideas like this, we'll all be better off. I'm not looking for end-of-the-world statements, but rather stock-specific "dividends in peril" that anyone thinks they have spotted.
Van Knapp's appeal yielded immediate results, and on March 25, his first 'Dividends in Danger?' post appeared. It discussed reader worries surrounding Sysco (NYSE:SYY), Hudson City Bancorp (NASDAQ:HCBK) and Pitney-Bowes (NYSE:PBI) among other stocks.
That first article generated lots of discussion, which led to a second post highlighting more reader comments about the stocks discussed in that first article. And on April 20th commentor Zack Tripp left this message, excerpted from Hudson City Bancorp's quarterly results:
Mr. Hermance continued, "The Board of Directors considered the level of operating earnings in declaring a dividend of $0.08 per share. While we recognize that this is lower than our recent dividend levels, it represents a dividend yield of 3.30% as compared to an average dividend yield of 1.24% for all financial institutions in the S&P 500 as of April 13, 2011. We believe that paying a dividend yield that is competitive with comparable companies in the marketplace is important and is a primary focus for us. We are committed to shareholder value and believe that the current dividend level represents a prudent capital management decision."
HCBK 20-Apr-2011 Press Release
Bingo! As predicted by members of our i4i community, Hudson City Bancorp had cut its dividend.
Readers of Van Knapp's new series were alerted to the possibility of that cut weeks in advance. Plus, as Van Knapp notes: "Dividend cuts are often followed by serious price declines, not to mention the impact on income streams of the cut itself."
Any and all readers can benefit from the combined knowledge and expertise of other Seeking Alpha users. We encourage you to contribute your own thoughts for future 'Dividends in Danger?' posts via the comments section of this article or the two posts by Van Knapp (links above). Here are Van Knapp's guidelines:
Please use the Comments section to nominate other companies for the Dividends in Danger series. Support your thesis with data and reasoning. If you feel that an entire industry is in danger, please explain why and give examples of companies in the industry that are at risk. The best comments are focused, factual, specific, and reasoned.
We think this is a concrete fruition of SA's vision that interactive, social-networking tools, when combined with thousands of knowledgable readers, can produce results that help everyone.