High-quality stocks have a long history of sustainable earnings power and stable dividend growth. These stocks are best suited for volatile times and periods of steepening yield curves. Aside from a number of domestic stocks paying attractive dividends, investors can invest in international equities that promise stable income streams for patient investors. The S&P International Developed High Quality Rankings index consists of high-quality dividend stocks (including ADRs) that can serve as a basis for constructing a solid, geographically-diversified income portfolio. The index constituents include those high-quality stocks that have shown stability and sustainability of earnings and dividend growth.
We have selected four high-quality international ADRs that investors should consider when picking equities for their dividend portfolios. These ADRs have an average dividend yield of 4.0% and dividend payout ratios ranging between 26% and 80%. Here is a closer look at each of the four high-quality ADRs paying attractive dividends.
Astra Zeneca PLC (AZN) is a British $60-billion pharmaceutical company. It manufactures and sells a wide range of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neurological, respiratory and inflammation, oncology, and infectious diseases. Over the past five years, the company saw its EPS and dividends grow at average rates of 13.7% and 10.3% per year, respectively. Analysts forecast that the company's EPS could grow 31% this year and about 1% next year. The sharp deceleration in EPS growth is due to patent expirations. Astra Zeneca just entered into an agreement with Pfizer to sell an over-the-counter version of its third best-selling drug, Nexium, a heartburn pill. The deal will provide a $250 million upfront pay to Astra Zeneca plus royalties from medication sales. As a result, the company bolstered its 2012 EPS by 15 cents a share to between $6.00 and $6.30 per share. Nexium will lose its patent protection in the U.S. in 2014. Astra Zeneca and Pfizer will look for more potential deals of this kind in the near future. The stock has a free cash flow yield of 5.1%, ROE of 36%, and return on invested capital (ROIC) of 25%.
Astra Zeneca pays a dividend yield of 5.9% on a payout ratio of 45%. Its competitors Merck & Co. (MRK), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and Pfizer (PFE) pay lower dividend yields of 3.8%, 4.5%, and 3.7%, respectively. The stock is currently trading at a forward P/E of 8.5, which is a major discount to its peer group's forward P/E of 11.7. The stock is also undervalued relative to its own five-year average P/E. At $47.70 a share, Astra Zeneca is 3.0% higher from last year, and is close to its 52-week high. Billionaire Jim Simons and value investor David Dreman are big fans of the stock.
British American Tobacco (BTI) is a $103 billion UK tobacco products company. It sells the popular cigarette brands of Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, and others. Over the past five years, the company's EPS and dividends rose at average rates of 11.3% and 12.4% per year, respectively. Analysts expect that its EPS will expand at an average rate of 10.2% annually for the next half decade. The stock boasts a free cash flow yield of 1.7%, ROE of 39.6%, and ROIC of 16.4%. While it is significantly exposed to the adverse regulatory effects, litigation, excise taxation, as well as the rising consumer consciousness about the negative effects of smoking, British American Tobacco has a strong brand power and the capacity to boost revenues through higher pricing.
The stock pays a dividend yield of 3.8% on a payout ratio of 80%. Its peers Imperial Tobacco Group (ITYBY.PK) and Philip Morris International (PM) pay dividend yields of 4.3% and 3.4%, respectively. The stock is trading at a premium to its peer group, based on the forward P/Es. However, its price-to-book value ratio (P/BV) is lower than the average for the industry, although it is much higher than the stock's historical P/BVs. Changing hands at $105.75 per share, the stock is up 14.4% over the past year. British American Tobacco is popular with fund managers Tom Russo (Gardner, Russo, & Gardner) and billionaires Jim Simons and D. E. Shaw.
BHP Billiton PLC (BBL) is a $165 billion natural resource giant, engaged in the exploration and production of oil and gas as well as mining of a broad range of commodities such as bauxite, copper, nickel, coal, and iron ore. Over the past five years, the company's EPS and dividends grew at average annual rates of 19.9% and 23.4%, respectively. The company's EPS is expected to expand at an average rate of 5.7% per year for the next five years. BHP Billiton boasts a free cash flow yield of 5.3%, ROE of 38.6%, and ROIC of 28.6%. The company is currently adversely exposed to a soft commodities demand due to weak economic growth and weak pricing. However, the acceleration of global economic growth after the current "soft patch" will bode well for the commodities producer. Still, expecting a moderate demand in the near future, the company cut its capex recently, which should leave more room for dividends and share buybacks.
The miner pays a dividend yield of 3.3% on a low payout ratio of 26%. Its peers Vale SA (VALE), Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF), and Rio Tinto (RIO) pay dividend yields of 6.3%, 5.6%, and 3.0%, respectively. The stock is currently trading on a P/E below its industry and the stock's own historical P/E. At $62.1 a share, the stock is down 5.6% over the past 12 months. Fund manager Bernard Horn (Polaris Capital Management-check out the fund's top positions) is a major holder of the stock.
Siemens AG (SI) is an $80-billion diversified industrial conglomerate. It is engaged in the production and sale of electronics and electrical engineering products. The company operates in the industrial, energy, healthcare, and infrastructure sectors. Over the past five years, the company's EPS and dividends grew at average annual rates of 24% and 14%, respectively. For the next five years, Siemens is expected to boost its EPS at an almost identical average annual rate as that achieved over the past five years. However, that rate may be overly optimistic, given the severity of economic and financial problems in Europe. Budgetary austerity and weak growth in Europe has weighed on the demand for Siemens' products. In response, the stock has dropped some 14% in value over the past year. The market for Siemens' products is expected to remain subdued in the medium-term, but the company's long-term growth prospects are strong, including an expected robust demand for infrastructure/urbanization in emerging markets. The company has just announced a $3.7 billion share repurchase program to be implemented by the end of the year. The stock has a free cash flow yield of 5.8%, ROE of 14%, and ROIC of 8.6%.
Siemens pays a dividend yield of 3.1% on a payout ratio of 46%. Its peers ABB Ltd. (ABB) and General Electric (GE) pay higher dividend yields of 3.9% and 3.2%, respectively. The stock is trading at a discount to its peer group, based on the comparison of forward P/Es. The stock is also trading at a discount to its historical valuations. The shares of Siemens are changing hands at $91.50 per share. Among fund managers, billionaires Jim Simons, Ken Fisher, D. E. Shaw, and Glenn Dubin have stakes in the company.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.