Sunday, July 17

Week 263 - “Bond-like” Stocks That Fly Under The Radar

Situation: The stock market is overpriced, which is the obvious outcome of “quantitative easing” and ultra-low interest rates. US Treasury bonds and notes carry an interest rate that is close to the projected inflation rate over their holding period. Stocks, in spite of their added risk, are the only path to portfolio growth. For that reason, the business news increasingly talks up “bond-like” stocks. 

Mission: In last week’s blog, we set up criteria for defining “bond-like” stocks, starting with the requirement that they be Dividend Achievers, i.e., the dividend has been increased annually for at least the past 10 yrs. Now we’ll use those same criteria to highlight “below the radar” stocks, e.g. those issued by companies that don’t have sufficient revenue to be included in the 2016 Barron’s 500 List.

Execution: We exclude any Dividend Achiever from consideration if one or more of the following conditions apply:

1. Revenues are insufficient to warrant inclusion in the 2016 Barron’s 500 List;
2. S&P bond rating is less than BBB+ or (in the absence of a rating) debt/equity is less than or equal to one;
3. S&P stock rating is less than B+/M or S&P assigns a denominator of “H” to the rating (indicating high risk of loss);
4. WACC exceeds ROIC;
5. Finance Value (Column E in our Tables) falls more than for the Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX);
6. Dividend yield is less than for VFINX;
7. 16-yr CAGR is less than for the S&P 500 Index (^GSPC);
8. Dividend yield + 16-yr CAGR is less than 11.4%. NOTE: This metric has predictive value for Net Present Value (NPV) and is highlighted in yellow at Column Q in the Table.
9. Predicted loss to the investor at 2 standard deviations below 16-yr price CAGR is more than 36% (see Column P in the Table).

Bottom Line: We’ve found a dozen Dividend Achievers that appear attractive for long-term investment, even though most reside in the S&P 400 MidCap Index. Not surprisingly, 7 of the 12 are utility stocks. But the strongest stock of the group is Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (SKT), a real estate investment trust.

Risk Rating: 5 (where US Treasuries = 1 and gold = 10)

Full Disclosure: I own shares of Lincoln Electric (LECO).

Note: Metrics are current for the Sunday of publication. Metrics highlighted in red denote underperformance relative to our key benchmark (VBINX at Line 25 in the Table). NPV inputs are listed and justified in the Appendix for Week 256. 

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