Dividend Investors: Don't Forget About Canada

by: Nelson Smith

Here on Seeking Alpha, there have been seemingly countless articles written on high yielding favorites like Annaly Capital, (NYSE:NLY) American Capital Agency Corp, (NASDAQ:AGNC) Realty Income, (NYSE:O) Altria, (NYSE:MO) AT&T, (NYSE:T) and Vodafone. (NASDAQ:VOD) Considering uncertain markets and low treasury yields, these stocks have become popular choices among investors looking for attractive dividends.

There are various pros and cons for investing in the above stocks, but this article isn't about them. Rather, I'm going to focus on stocks that American investors often overlook, simply because they are Canadian.

Canada is a terrific market. Canada has been delivering consistently better economic numbers than the U.S. Its unemployment rate is lower and interest rates are higher than the United States. GDP growth has outperformed since the Great Recession. Canada has also been a huge beneficiary of the global commodity boom, especially thanks to the massive reserves in the Alberta oil sands.

Sure, Canada has its own set of headwinds - the consumer is riddled with debt and many pundits are calling for a massive correction in the housing market - among other challenges. Plus, their largest trading partner, The United States, is currently dealing with their own tepid economy. Weaknesses aside, Canada can be a solid place to invest.

Most Americans can do so easily. Most online brokerages offer Canadian stock trading, although you may have to pay a small premium to do so. Of course, you are taking on currency risk to do so, keep that in mind if you decide to invest in Canada.

From 2002-2006, a large percentage of IPOs in the Canadian market were in the income trust space. Like REITs, income trusts are mature businesses that pay the majority of their profits back to shareholders, and investors enjoyed both the generous dividends and capital gains as other investors flooded into the space, attracted by the yields. Plus, Canadian tax law at the time allowed income trusts to pay very little in corporate tax, since distributions were taxed in the hands of shareholders.

All good things must come to an end though, and the Canadian Government closed the tax loophole in 2006, effective January 2011. The Government allowed oil and gas trusts and REITs to operate under the old tax rules, but all business trusts would convert back to corporations. The result of this are all sorts of previous income trusts that have converted back to corporations, yet have maintained their high dividends. Here are 5 you should consider.

1. Roger's Sugar (OTC:RSGUF)

Canada, like many other industrial nations, protects their own sugar producers by placing tariffs that would make imported product uncompetitive. Along with privately held competitor Redpath, they control over 90% of Canada's sugar market. They've recently grown their quarterly dividend from 8.5 cents to 9 cents, and it currently yields 5.86%.

2. Pizza Pizza Royalty Fund (OTC:PZRIF)

What's more steady than the pizza business? With a large presence in Ontario, Canada's largest province, Pizza Pizza is a steady business. Unit holders are paid from a 6% royalty directly from the top line of franchisees. They cut the dividend in 2011 as they were affected by the new tax rules, but the current 6 cent monthly distribution puts the yield at 6.73%.

3. Extendicare REIT (EXETD.PK)

Extendicare is in the seniors' assisted living space, owning homes all throughout Canada and the United States. As we all know, populations are getting older, and most of these older people are going to end up needing some sort of assistance when they get older. They've maintained their 7 cent monthly dividend since 2009, and it currently yields 11.54%.

4. Davis and Henderson Corporation (OTC:DHIFF)

Davis and Henderson are in two separate businesses, they print the majority of checks used in Canada, as well as owning the software used by various financial professionals, the largest group being real estate agents and mortgage brokers. It currently pays a 31 cent quarterly dividend for a 6.28% dividend.

5. Bell Aliant (OTC:BLIAF)

Bell Aliant was formed back in 1999, as the provincial governments of Canada's Atlantic provinces finally deregulated their telecommunications monopoly. Canada's largest telecom company, Bell, owns 53% of the company and effectively controls it. Bell Aliant only controls the stable wireline business, as their mother company controls the wireless side of the business. The stock currently yields 7.24%.

Don't let the low volumes of the pink sheet issues fool you. All these stocks are mid caps in Canada, and liquidity isn't a problem.

These are just a few examples of high yielding Canadian stocks. There are many more former income trusts that continue to pay investors attractive yields. Perhaps it's time to go north in search of yield.

Disclosure: I am long OTC:RSGUF. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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