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This article will evaluate five dividend paying companies that you might consider purchasing before their October ex-dividend dates:

Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Comcast has a market cap of $62.46 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 16.58. The stock has traded in a 52 week range between $16.30 and $27.16. The stock currently trades at around $23. On August 3rd, the company reported revenues of $14.3 billion, compared to revenues of $9.53 billion in the second quarter of 2010. Second quarter net income was $1.02 billion compared to net income of $884 million in the second quarter of 2010. Year over year net income was stagnant. In 2010, net income was $3.63 billion compared to net income of $3.64 billion in the second quarter of 2009.

Comcast is a provider of cable TV, telephone and internet services. One of Comcast competitors is DIRECTV (NASDAQ:DTV). DIRECTV is currently trading around $44 with a market cap of $32.2 billion and a negative price to earnings ratio. DIRECTV does not pay a dividend.

Comcast third quarter Ex- dividend date is October 3, 2011. The dividend will be $0.11 and the yield will be around 2%. Comcast has been paying a dividend since 2008 and has increased its dividend by 79% since that time. The company has increased its revenues in each of the last five years, and has increased its net income by 91% over that same period of time. Comcast has been able to consistently increase earnings, and over the last 3 years, it has done an above average job of increasing dividends. Investors seem to like the direction that Comcast is headed in, and have bid up the stock price by 26.57% over the last 52 weeks. With Comcast, I have to go against recent investor sentiment. I worry about the company’s high debt to equity ratio (63.38%). The company has increased its dividend, but a 2% dividend yield is unimpressive. I believe that with a price to earnings ratio of 16.58 this stock is fully valued, and I rate Comcast Corporation as a hold.

General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD) General Dynamics has a market cap of $21.54 billion and a price to earnings ratio of 8.49. The stock has traded in a 52 week range of between $57.39 and $78.27. The stock is currently trading around $59. On July 27th, the company reported second quarter revenues of $7.88 billion compared to revenues of $8.1 billion in the second quarter of 2010. Second quarter net income was $653 million compared to net income of net income of $648 million in the second quarter of 2010.

General Dynamics is a leader in the aviation and defense industry, and one of its competitors is the Boeing Company (NYSE:BA). Boeing is currently trading around $64 with a market cap of $47.1 billion and a price to earnings ratio of 13.44. Boeing pays a $1.68 dividend which has a yield of 2.6%.

General Dynamics third quarter Ex-dividend date is October 5, 2011. The dividend will be $0.47 and the yield will be around 3.1%. General Dynamics has been an excellent dividend paying company and has raised its dividend by 104% over the last 5 years. General Dynamics has been a profitable company for many years, and in 2010 it increased its net income by 9.6%. The company receives a large portion of its revenues from the U.S. government. Investors have been concerned that government budget cuts could hurt the company’s revenues. These concerns have hurt the stock price which is down 5.28% over the last 52 weeks and down by 28% over the last 3 years. General Dynamics has a long history of profitability and a good record of raising dividends. However, I would not purchase this stock before the stock price bottoms out. I rate General Dynamics as a hold.

Sysco Corporation (NYSE:SYY) Sysco Corporation has a market cap of $15.98 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 18.96. The stock has traded in a 52 week range between $26.42 and $32.76. The stock is currently trading at around $27. On August 5th, the company announced fourth quarter earnings for the period ending on June 30th. Fourth quarter revenues were $10.4 billion compared to revenues of $10.3 billion in the fourth quarter of the prior year. Fourth quarter net income was $336 million compared to net income of $338 million of the prior year.

Sysco’s third quarter ex-dividend date is October 13, 2011. The dividend will be $.26 and the yield will be around 3.8%. Sysco is a wholesale food company that is well established and has made a profit in every year for more than a decade. While the company has remained profitable, earnings have been relatively flat, and the earnings per share have grown by only 2% over the last 3 years. Investors have not been impressed by Sysco’s earnings, and the stock price is down by 8.94% over the last 52 weeks, and 10.4% over the last 3 years. I do not see how Sysco can turn things around, and its dividend is not high enough to compensate for the stocks poor performance. I rate Sysco Corporation as a hold.

Potash Group of Saskatchewan Inc. (NYSE:POT) Potash Group has a market cap of $44.55 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 18.96. The stock has traded in a 52 week range of between $44.22 and $63.97. The stock is currently trading around $52. On August 23rd, the company reported revenues of $2.24 billion compared to revenues of $1.53 billion in the second quarter of 2010. Second quarter net income was $811 million compared to net income of $502 million in the second quarter of 2010. The company reported 2010 net income of $1.79 billion compared to net income of $1.04 billion in 2009.

One of Potash Group’s competitors is the Mosaic Company (NYSE:MOS). Mosaic is currently trading around $66 with a market cap of $29.46 billion and a price to earnings ratio of 11.74. Mosaic pays a dividend of $0.20 with a yield of 0.03%.

Potash Group’s ex-dividend date is October 13, 2011. The dividend will be $0.07 and the yield will be 0.50%. Potash Group has realized strong earnings growth. The company’s year over year second quarter net income increased by 61.5%. In 2010 the company increased its annual net income by 72%. CNBC stock analyst Jim Cramer has advised investors to buy shares of Potash Group upon any pullbacks. Stock Guru George Soros recently purchased 271,700 shares of the stock. I agree with Jim Cramer and George Soros and think that Potash Group will continue to grow earnings. Potash Group of Saskatchewan is the best of breed fertilizer company, and I rate it as a buy.

Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT) Medtronic has a market cap of $36.77 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 12.14. The stock has traded in a 52 week range between $30.18 and $43.33. The stock is currently trading around $35. On August 23rd, the company reported first quarter fiscal year earnings. Revenues were $4.05 billion compared to revenues of $3.77 billion in the prior year. First quarter net income was $821 million compared to net income of $830 million in the prior year.

Medtronic’s is a producer of medical equipment and one of its competitors is Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX). Boston Scientific is trading around $6 with a market cap of $9.54 billion and a price to earnings ratio of 15.69. Boston Scientific does not pay a dividend.

Medtronic’s ex-dividend date is October 5, 2011. The dividend will be $.24 and the yield will be around 2.8%. The company has been a very good dividend paying company and has increased its dividend by 153% over the last 5 years. Medtronic’s earnings have been flat for the past three years, and I do not see any catalyst that would make me think that things will change in the near future. Investors have not been impressed with the company’s earnings, and the stock price is up by 3.72% over the last 52 weeks. It is too early to tell how the new health care regulations will affect Medtronic, but I doubt that the company will see any marked increase in its earnings. I rate Medtronic as a hold.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Source: 5 High Yield Stocks Going Ex-Dividend In October