History shows that it is normal for corporations to change (increase, decrease, or suspend) the dividends paid to the common share holders. These changes take place irrespective of which stage of economic cycle we are in. In last one year, i.e. between March 2008 and February 2009, within S&P500 index, there were 205 corporations that increased their dividends, 63, have decreased their dividends, and 25 have suspended their dividends. I could be argued that all 205 may not have good quality sustainable dividends. However, this list is deep enough for mining potential gems. In general, a typically dividend growth investor will look for a corporation that has increase its dividend consistently for at least last 10 years. It is always good to wait for 10 years worth of dividend history. However, I would like to evaluate corporations that have started showing signs of dividend growth early on, and see how it stands in my analysis.
In this context, I have shortlisted nine corporations (from S&P500) that for the last five years have (1) consistently increased their dividends; and/or (2) demonstrated their inclination to consistently pay dividends. The attached table shows the dividends for last 5 years and corresponding growth in last five years. Note: Year 2003 growth is with respect to Year 2002.
Waste Management, Inc. (WMI): It provides integrated waste management services in North America. The company offers collection, transfer, recycling, disposal, and waste-to-energy services.
- Pros: Stable cash flow, dominant market share, per management no planned large capital expenditure in near future, more than 100 year old corporation, stable industry
- Cons: lack of revenue growth
T. Rowe Price Group, Inc. (TROW): It is a publicly owned corporation, a holding group, and an investment manager. The firm provides its services to corporations, corporate, public, and Taft-Hartley retirement plans, foundations, and endowments.
- Pros: Debt free, likely beneficiary of baby boomer driven demographic shift, no direct impact from current financial turmoil, only an investment manager, stable industry
- Cons: recession driven slowing down
Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI): It engages in the design, manufacture, and marketing of analog, mixed-signal, and digital signal processing integrated circuits (i.e primarily high performance analog chips) used in industrial, communication, computer, and consumer applications.
- Pros: dominant market share in key product segments, products sell that 55%+ gross margin, debt free, positive cash flow
- Cons: lack of revenue growth, cyclic industry
Linear Technology Corp. (LLTC): It designs, manufactures, and markets various linear integrated circuits (i.e. high performance analog chips, linear products)
- Pros: dominant market share in key product segments, products sell that 65%+ gross margin, positive cash flow
- Cons: lack of revenue growth, cyclic industry
Qualcomm (QCOM): It manufactures and markets digital wireless telecommunications products and services based on its code division multiple access (CDMA) technology and other wireless communication technologies.
- Pros: Ownership of CDMA technology, high royalty revenue (approx. USD 1 billion), all competitor in its market segment operating at loss, technological leadership in communication market,
- Cons: cyclic industry, engaged in too many legal battles,
Intel Corporation (INTC): It designs, manufactures, and sells integrated circuits for computing and communications industries worldwide. It is the manufacture of microprocessor products used in desktops, nettops, workstations, servers, embedded products, communications products, notebooks, netbooks, mobile Internet devices, and consumer electronics.
- Pros: lone player, no long-term viable competitor, technological leadership
- Cons: cyclic industry, history of squandering cash flow in acquisitions,
CME Group Inc. (CME): It operates two self-regulatory futures exchanges viz. CME and CBOT. The company offers an array of products available across various asset classes, including futures and options on futures based on interest rates, equity indexes, foreign exchange, agricultural commodities, and alternative investments, such as weather and real estate.
- Pros: futures exchange,
- Cons: recession driven slow down in volume
Campbell Soup Company (CPB): This firm together with its subsidiaries engages in the manufacture and marketing of branded convenience food products worldwide. It operates in four segments: U.S. Soup, Sauces, and Beverages; Baking and Snacking; International Soup, Sauces, and Beverages; and North America food service.
- Pros: staples industry, distribution network advantage during recession.
- Cons: prolonged recession affecting revenue, shift to non-branded products, slow dividend growth
Becton, Dickinson and Company (BDX): It is a medical technology company that develops, manufactures, and sells medical supplies, devices, laboratory equipment, and diagnostic products worldwide.
- · Pros: likely beneficiary of baby boomer driven demographic shift, signs of dividend friendliness,
- · Cons: low dividend yield
These are nine corporations that provide a good starting point for additional research. Some the key areas that need further analysis are factors such as cash flow, income, debt level, growth in earnings, and future growth potential. In addition, one another aspect that would need close attention is to understand management’s policy or philosophy vis-à-vis dividends for common share holders. I would like to invest in at least two corporations which have low-to-moderate risk to dividends. I will provide updates as I move forward with the research.