Investing in dividend growth stocks is a long-term proposition. One of the beauties of following a dividend growth strategy is that you don't have to watch your portfolio or the market on a daily basis. For the most part, daily, monthly and yearly movements are just noise in the system.
My normal practice is to refresh my analytical spreadsheets each Friday with updated price information on the 220+ stocks that I follow. Even then, I don't normally look at the value of my portfolio or the performance of individual stocks.
However, each quarter, I update my dividend growth stock portfolio's performance and benchmark it against the S&P 500 and other portfolios. At that time, I will look at performance of individual stocks to understand the overall performance of the portfolio.
Saturday, I updated my Income Portfolio's performance for 2012. Building on that, here are my income portfolio's top and bottom 5 performers for the year, through December 31, 2012:
#5. National Retail Properties, Inc. (NYSE:NNN) is an equity real estate investment trust (REIT) that invests in high-quality, freestanding retail properties subject to long-term net leases with major retail tenants. The stock started the year at $26.38 and ended the year at $31.20.
Yield: 4.9% | 2012 Return: 24.8%
#4. Aflac Incorporated (NYSE:AFL) provides supplemental health and life insurance in Japan (80% of earnings) and the U.S. Products are marketed at work sites and help fill gaps in primary coverage. The stock started the year at $43.26 and ended the year at $53.12.
Yield: 2.7% | 2012 Return: 32.5%
#3. Cincinnati Financial Corp. (NASDAQ:CINF) is an insurance holding company that primarily markets property and casualty coverage. It also conducts life insurance and asset management operations. The stock started the year at $30.46 and ended the year at $39.16.
Yield: 3.9% | 2012 Return: 34.8%
#2. Illinois Tool Works Inc. (NYSE:ITW) is a diversified manufacturer that operates a portfolio of 60 business units serving industrial and consumer markets globally. The stock started the year at $46.71 and ended the year at $60.81.
Yield: 2.4% | 2012 Return: 35.1%
#1. Leggett & Platt Inc. (NYSE:LEG) makes a broad line of bedding and furniture components and other home, office and commercial furnishings, as well as products for non-furnishings markets. The stock started the year at $23.04 and ended the year at $27.22.
Yield: 4.1% | 2012 Return: 35.7%
#5. Integrys Energy Group, Inc. (NYSE:TEG) serves about 491,000 regulated electric and 1.7 million regulated gas customers. It also operates an unregulated retail marketing business. The stock started the year at $51.18 and ended the year at $52.22.
Yield: 5.0% | 2012 Return: 1.4%
#4. Consolidated Edison, Inc. (NYSE:ED) is an electric and gas utility holding company that serves parts of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The stock started the year at $62.03 and ended the year at $55.54.
Yield: 4.3% | 2012 Return: -5.6%
#3. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), the world's largest software company, develops PC software, including the Windows operating system and the Office application suite. The stock started the year at $25.96 and ended the year at $26.71.
Yield: 3.4% | 2012 Return: -8.6%
#2. McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) is the largest fast-food restaurant company in the world, with about 33,700 restaurants in 119 countries. The stock started the year at $100.33 and ended the year at $88.21.
Yield: 3.3% | 2012 Return: -9.1%
#1. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) is the world's largest manufacturer of microprocessors, the central processing units of PCs, and also produces other semiconductor products. The stock started the year at $24.25 and ended the year at $20.62.
Yield: 4.2% | 2012 Return: -18.7%
It is important to note that the returns above take into account the specific timing of my buys and sells, thus, your returns will likely be different. To avoid short-term anomalies, I excluded stocks that I did not own on January 1, 2012 from the above lists. Investing in dividend growth stocks is a long-term proposition, but sometimes it is nice to see that our portfolio is performing well, in addition to collecting higher dividends each month.
Disclosure: Long in all the aforementioned securities. See a list of all my income holdings here.