With markets coming off recent highs on global growth fears and some lackluster earnings reports, a fair amount of stocks have been pushed lower. When stock prices go lower, those companies that pay dividends see their yields pushed higher. The ability to enter names at lower prices is always appealing for dividend investors. With bond rates at low levels and not expected to rise anytime soon, dividend paying stocks are a viable alternative for investors. Here are five names whose yields have increased lately that you might want to think about again.
Philip Morris (PM):
Philip Morris shares have pulled back recently after a weak Q3 report. As I've noted in past articles, when Philip Morris pulls back from a new high, the pullback is at least $4. Philip Morris' recent high was $94.13, at which point the stock was yielding 3.61% on an annual basis. Philip Morris has been one of my best value picks over the past year, and has been an investor favorite since the spinoff a few years ago.
With the recent decline of more than $6, Philip Morris' yield has popped to 3.88%. That's a rise of 27 basis points. As I noted in my Philip Morris article, the premium this stock trades at to compared to other names in the sector has come down by a third since the recent high. At the high, I stated that the company was a bit overvalued. But now that the name has come back down, it is worth another look. Remember, this company is buying back $1.5 billion in stock each quarter, so when shares have come down, they haven't stayed down for long. Investors might want to consider a position in this name now, or accumulating more if they have some already. The next point to buy shares on the way down (if it goes lower) would be $85, at which point this name would yield 4%. Just a few months ago, this name was yielding around 3.3%. With the increased dividend and price retreat, you're getting an extra 50 basis points.
Apple is a really interesting case, because it is not a normal dividend investment that most investors think of. In a sense, that statement is true, as Apple investors right now are still focused on the growth potential that Apple has. But Apple did start paying a dividend last quarter, $2.65 a quarter, or $10.60 per year. When Apple hit its 52-week high of $705, Apple was yielding 1.50%. That's a pretty good yield for a company that analysts will think grow fiscal 2013 revenues at around 24%, and earnings to grow about 20%. For most Apple investors, the dividend was just an added bonus.
Now that Apple has come down a bit in price, the yield has risen quite a bit. Apple is now yielding 1.72%. That doesn't seem like a huge rise, but 22 basis points is nothing to shy away from. Also, Apple is yielding slightly less than a 10-Year U.S. Treasury bond. Ask yourself this question. For the next 10 years, would you rather own a 10-Year bond or Apple stock? I'm sure a lot of folks would say Apple.
Apple is scheduled to report its fiscal fourth quarter earnings report Thursday afternoon, something I previewed Wednesday. There are two reasons I bring this up. First, if Apple misses analyst estimates, which it could possible do (while still beating its own expectations), the stock could further decline. If Apple declines below $600, Apple's yield will roughly equal the yield of the 10-Year.
But there is one other thing to consider. With Apple's cash position being so great, and expected to grow even more going forward, is it possible that Apple raises its dividend with tomorrow's earnings report? I say this because their first dividend payment was in fiscal Q4. Raising the dividend for the fiscal Q1 would mean the four dividend payments would match the four fiscal quarters, then all raises would be in Q1, rather than Q4. It's something to consider.
The telecom giant reported its third quarter earnings on Wednesday. While revenues missed expectations, earnings per share beat estimates thanks to the company's stock buyback. The company boosted its free cash flow guidance by $2 billion to $18 billion this year. The company also activated 4.7 million iPhones in the quarter, more than in Q2. AT&T is the leading activator of iPhones in the U.S., and its subscriber base for the phone is rather large.
In early October, AT&T traded above $38 per share, meaning it was yielding 4.6%. With the recent decline in share price, the yield is up to 5.07%. That's an impressive yield, and the stock is at its lowest price since before the latest rally started in July. While the Q3 results may not have been spectacular, this is still a company generating lots of cash, allowing the company to pay an impressive dividend and buy back stock. With the yield crossing 5% again, investors might want to start looking at this name again.
Microsoft shares have been under pressure thanks to its fiscal first quarter earnings report. Revenues and earnings missed expectations, but it was due to deferred revenues related to Windows 8. For this reason, I stated that investors should give Microsoft a pass. Apple has gotten multiple passes in the last year or so for misses as we wait for iPhone launches, so why shouldn't Microsoft get a pass?
Microsoft was yielding 3.04% earlier this month, but it is now yielding 3.30%. That's 35 basis points more than a 30-Year Treasury bond, and Microsoft has a fair amount of growth potential ahead. Analysts are expecting high single digit revenue growth over the next two fiscal years. Microsoft still generated $8.5 billion in cash from operations during its quarter, and that was in a quarter with depressed net income. Microsoft is buying back $1 billion in stock each quarter, plus a 3.3% yield. It's a great combination. When a company has this kind of cash flow, investors are wise to look at an increasing dividend.
Six Flags (SIX):
The theme park operator is a very interesting one to discuss today after the company's earnings report. While revenues were a bit light of expectations, earnings did beat. Additionally, the company announced a 50% dividend increase, from 60 cents a quarter to 90 cents. But the stock fell 10% on Wednesday, pushing the yield up more.
Recently, at the stock's 52-week high, and using the old dividend payout, Six Flags stock was yielding 3.7%. That's a decent yield to begin with, close to Philip Morris for the second highest of the five names in the article. Even before you add in the dividend increase, the recent drop in the stock would have pushed up the yield to 4.27%. But now that the company raised the dividend, the yield based on the new dividend and Wednesday's close is now 6.41%. That's a very high yield.
The stock has been on a run this year, so a pullback was inevitable. However, with the increased dividend, I wouldn't expect too much more downside in the name. A yield of 6.4% can pad some fall in the name, and I think investors will rush in if this yield approaches 7% or more. It's a nice paycheck each quarter.
Disclaimer: Investors are always reminded that before making any investment, you should do your own proper due diligence on any name directly or indirectly mentioned in this article. Investors should also consider seeking advice from a broker or financial adviser before making any investment decisions. Any material in this article should be considered general information, and not relied on as a formal investment recommendation.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in AAPL over the next 72 hours.