In a recent article ("10 Recommended Mid Caps With A Yield Above 10%"), Seeking Alpha contributor Dividend Screen reviewed a list of mid- and large-cap names, of which 8 currently have yields above 10%. In this post, we'll look at the VectorVest Dividend Safety scores, and the hedging costs, for all ten names. With respect to Dividend Safety, VectorVest defines it as,
An indicator of the assurance that regular cash dividends will be declared and paid at current or at higher rates for the foreseeable future.
VectorVest ranks Dividend Safety on a scale of 0-99, where 0 is the worst possible score and 99 is the best (scores between 50 and 74 are considered good, and scores of 75 and above are considered excellent). To see VectorVest's Dividend Safety analysis for any dividend-paying stock, you can enter its symbol and your email address on VectorVest's homepage, and VectorVest will email you its analysis of the stock.
A commenter on the original article noted that one of the 10 stocks Dividend Screen profiled, Veolia Environnement (NYSE:VE), had announced it would significantly reduce its dividend this year. That appears to be reflected in Veolia Environnement's VectorVest Dividend Safety Score, which is 0.
It turned out that a total four out of these ten names had Dividend Safety scores of 0, and four others had scores above zero but still in the "poor" range. Two others, though, had scores in the "good" or "excellent" range: Banco Santader, SA (STD) ("good") and Telefonica SA (NYSE:TEF) ("excellent"). I've included the updated yields and Dividend Safety scores for all ten names in the table below, along with the current costs of hedging them against greater-than-20% declines over the next several months, using optimal puts.
A Comparison
For comparison purposes, I've added the SPDR S&P Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:SDY) to the table below. First, a reminder about what optimal puts are, and an explanation of the 20% decline threshold; then, a screen capture showing the optimal puts to hedge one of the names below, Annaly Capital Management (NYSE:NLY).
About Optimal Puts
Optimal puts are the ones that will give you the level of protection you want at the lowest possible cost. Portfolio Armor uses an algorithm developed by a finance Ph.D. to sort through and analyze all of the available puts for your position, scanning for the optimal ones.
Decline Thresholds
In this context, "threshold" refers to the maximum decline you are willing to risk in the value of your position in a security. You can enter any percentage you like for a decline threshold when scanning for optimal puts (the higher the percentage though, the greater the chance you will find optimal puts for your position). I have used 20% thresholds for all of the names below.
The Optimal Puts for NLY
Below is a screen capture showing the optimal put option contract to buy to hedge 100 shares of NLY against a greater-than-20% drop between now and July 20th. A note about these optimal put options and their cost: o be conservative, Portfolio Armor calculated the cost based on the ask price of the optimal puts. In practice, an investor can often purchase puts for a lower price, i.e., some price between the bid and the ask (the same is true for the rest of the names below).
Hedging Costs as of Wednesday's Close
The hedging data in the table below is as of Wednesday's close, and is presented as percentages of position values. The yields and Dividend Safety ratings are as of Wednesday's close as well. Bear in mind that the yields below are annualized, but the hedging costs below aren't.
Symbol | Name | Div. Yield | Div. Safety | Hedging Cost |
FTR | Frontier Comm. | 17.6% | 0 | 12.9%* |
NRGY | Inergy, L.P. | 15.6% | 0 | 3.05%* |
VE | Veolia Environnement | 13.6% | 0 | 12.9%* |
MFA | MFA Financial | 13.4% | 35 | 5.38%* |
NLY | Annaly Capital | 13.8% | 38 | 1.69%* |
HTS | Hatteras Financial | 12.9% | 34 | 2.16%** |
FTE | France Telecom | 10.5% | 25 | 7.76%** |
TEF | Telefonica SA | 11.9% | 81 | 10.4%*** |
OZM | Och-Ziff Cap. | 3.53% | 0 | 14.7%*** |
STD | Banco Santander | 9.93% | 61 | 10.3%*** |
SDY | SPDR S&P Dividend | 3.62% | 58 | 1.79%* |
*Based on optimal puts expiring in July
**Based on optimal puts expiring in August
***Based on optimal puts expiring in September
Disclosure: I am short STD. I own a few puts on STD.