Sizing Up The Services Sector's January Dogs

by: Fredrik Arnold

A month ago your intrepid Dogs of the Index analyst began applying dog dividend methodology to each of eight major market sectors: basic materials, consumer goods, financial, healthcare, industrial goods, services, technology, and utilities.

The ninth sector, conglomerates, according to Yahoo Finance, contains just eight firms, five of which pay dividends. Thus I declined to apply dogs of the index metrics to such a limited universe of conglomerates, declaring, "such a task is comparable to a dog show judge trying to evaluate a Chihuahua based on St. Bernard conformation standards."

Dogs of the Index Metrics Used to Select The Top Ten Sector Stocks

Two key metrics determine the yields that rank index or sector dog stocks: (1) stock price; (2) annual dividend. Dividing the annual dividend by the price of the stock declares the percentage yield by which each dog stock is ranked. Investors select portfolios of five or ten stocks in any one index or sector by yield to trade. They await the results from their investments in the lowest priced, highest yielding stocks they selected and pray that the price of every stock they now own climbs higher (having locked in a high yield percentage at purchase).

This Dogs of the Index strategy, popularized by Michael B. O'Higgins in the book "Beating The Dow" (HarperCollins, 1991), reveals how low yielding stocks whose prices increase (and whose dividend yields therefore decrease) can be sold off once each year to sweep gains and reinvest the seed money into higher yielding stocks in the same index.

Comparative Methods Used

First, the entire list of services sector companies is sorted by yield as of January 20 using to reveal the top thirty. Market performance of these thirty selections is then reviewed using four months of historic projected annual dividend history from Yahoo Finance.

Thereafter, today's article goes on to assess the relative strengths of the services sector top ten dividend dogs as of January 20 vs. the Dogs of the Dow January 13 stock list. Annual dividends from $1,000 invested in the ten highest yielding stocks in the sector and index are compared to the aggregate single share prices of the top ten stocks in the sector and index.

Services Dividend Dogs

The top ten services sector stocks paying the biggest dividends in January represent three industries. Top services sector stock, CPI Corp. (NYSE:CPY) is the only personal services firm in the top ten. October's leader by yield, Alon Holdings (NYSE:BSI) is the only Grocery Store firm. Eight of the top ten firms on the services top ten list by yield are from the shipping industry: Paragon (PRGN); Star (NASDAQ:SBLK); DHT Holdings (NYSE:DHT); Globus (NASDAQ:GLBS); Ship Finance (NYSE:SFL); Knightbridge (VLCCF); Teekay Tankers (NYSE:TNK); Capital (CPLP).

Of the top thirty services sector stocks by yield, nineteen firms are in the Shipping industry. The other services sector industry represented by more than one firm is Personal Services with two. The nine other industries cracking the top thirty by yield are: Grocery Stores; General Entertainment; Staffing & Outsourcing; Wholesale Other; Business Services; Basic Materials Wholesale; Apparel Stores; Specialty Retail; Rental & Leasing Services.

Vertical Moves in Services Dividend Dog Stocks

Going back four months, BSN claimed the top of this list by yield in October. PRGN went to the top in November and held on to December. Now CPI Corp (CPY) has the top slot in January. The action throughout the Services list continues to be mostly bearish. A glowing exception to the gloom was Cedar Fair (NYSE:FUN) moving from fifth place by yield in October to twelfth in January by virtue of a 27.5% price gain from $19.37 to $24.69 for the period. It's NOT hard to pick the biggest loser but the most glaring tops the list. CPI Corporation (CPY) captured the top by yield as its price dropped from $7.02 in October to $1.81 in January, a 73.7% swoon.

Color code shows: (Yellow) firms listed in first position at least once between October 2011 and January 2012; (Cyan Blue) firms listed in tenth position at least once between October 2011 and January 2012; (Magenta) firms listed in twentieth position at least once between October 2011 and January 2012; (Green) firms listed in thirtieth position at least once between October 2011 and January 2012. Duplicates are depicted in color for highest ranking attained.

Dividend vs. Price Results for Services Sector vs. Dow Dogs

Below is a graph of the relative strengths of the top ten services dividend sector stocks by yield as of January 20, 2012 compared to those of the Dow. Using four months of historic projected annual dividend history from $1000 invested in the ten highest yielding stocks each month and the total single share prices of those ten stocks creates the data points for each month shown in green for price and blue for dividends.

Conclusion: Water Dogs Await a Rising Tide

This services collection of 30 dividend payers shows depressed market performance into the first month of 2012. There was a 39.4% decrease in aggregate single share prices for the top ten over the four monthly points surveyed. Dividends from $1,000 invested in each of the top ten increased 38.24% for the period.

Meanwhile, the Dow index moved to within $3.50 of convergence as dividends from $1,000 invested in the top ten nearly overlapped aggregate total single share prices this month. The services sector top ten show $1,556.39 more projected annual dividends returned from $1,000 invested in each on the top ten stocks at greater than a $340 lower aggregate ten share price than the Dow as of January 20.

At the end of each month, two summaries will conclude this new series of articles by showing comparative results of yield and price for all eight sectors reported: basic materials, consumer goods, financial, healthcare, industrial goods, services, technology, and utilities.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only and shall not be construed to constitute investment advice. Nothing contained herein shall constitute a solicitation, recommendation or endorsement to buy or sell any security. Prices and returns on equities in this article are listed without consideration of fees, commissions, taxes, penalties, or interest payable due to purchasing, holding, or selling same.