Investors Alley

Covid Changed Dividend Stocks – Here’s How to Adapt

A recent Wall Street Journal article highlights the significant number of companies that suspended common stock dividends in the early days of the pandemic and have not yet restarted payouts to shareholders.

A company’s dividend strategy tells you a lot about how they think about us, the little guy investors. So let’s take a look at how CEOs think of us…

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Nearly 190 U.S.-listed companies stopped paying dividends in 2020 to save much-needed cash, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence, a data provider. Thirty-nine went back to them that same year, 53 followed suit in 2021, and 23 have done so this year. However, 72 companies, or 38.5%, have yet to reinstate their dividend.

The pandemic was historically unique. During the early days, just the survival of many businesses was in doubt. I understand why companies choose to retain cash until they had a better understanding of the future. However, nearly two and a half years later, companies that have not restarted dividends are not doing the right thing for their shareholders.

I observe that corporate management teams either try to make Wall Street analysts happy or focus on generating excellent returns for individual shareholders. Paying attractive and growing dividends is shareholder friendly. The Wall Street analyst crowd prefers share buybacks.

For my Dividend Hunter service, during the pandemic, I recommended immediately selling a stock if the company suspended dividends payments. We took the proceeds and invested in companies that chose to continue paying dividends. One big winner for Dividend Hunters was EnLink Midstream LLC (ENLC). We picked up shares for $1.00 to $2.00 in mid-2020, and I recommended selling the stock for more than $10.00 in early 2022.

EPR Properties (EPR), historically an outstanding dividend growth stock, suspended dividends in mid-2020, so we sold. The company restarted its monthly payout in June 2021, so I returned the stock to the recommendations list. EPR increased its dividend by 10% this year, and I expect regular annual dividend increases going forward.

One highlight of the 2022 bear market and economic slowdown is that good dividend-paying stocks have continued to pay, with many increasing their dividend rates. This is a very different economy, and individual companies have their own challenges and opportunities. Many companies continue to thrive, and the good ones share their profits as dividends for investors.

Recently, the EPR share price dropped on the news that one of its largest tenants is considering a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. I am confident it will work out fine for EPR, and the recent share price drop is a buying opportunity. Every week, I send my Dividend Hunter members the ticker of a high-yield dividend stock that’s a great buy.
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Biotech’s Unknown Star is Set to Take Off

America has a history of welcoming refugees from foreign shores. And now Wall Street is doing its part by welcoming a refugee from the United Kingdom.

Unlike the U.S. market, the U.K. market has never been very fond of technology stocks, including biotechnology companies. Their valuations—and the levels of interest the attract—are usually low.

That’s why recently a British biotechnology company with expertise in the emerging and increasingly profitable field of biological analysis delisted in Britain and moved its sole listing to the Nasdaq. It has had a secondary listing here since October 2020.The company is Abcam (ABCM), and here is its story…

Abcam

Abcam is not a typical biotech or pharmaceutical company.

Its business involves identifying, developing, and distributing research-use-only (RUO) antibodies, which are used both by companies engaged in drug discovery, as well as academics involved in biomedical research.

Here is a clue as to how important Abcam’s RUO antibodies are globally: more than half of all life science research papers published in 2020 cited the use of one of the company’s products.

The key point, apparently missed by British investors, is that the company’s research-use-only antibodies are not, in fact, just used in research. Their use in diagnostics and other applications is growing rapidly, opening up new markets for Abcam.

Puneet Souda, a senior research analyst at SVB Securities, explained this point to Jennifer Johnson of the Investors Chronicle. Sousa said one major market opening up for Abcam is proteomics. This is the study of the proteome, investigating how different proteins interact with each other and the roles they play within an organism. Proteome is a blanket term that refers to all of the proteins that an organism can express. Each species has its own, unique proteome.

For many years, researchers have analyzed the human genome to help them diagnose and treat disease. But now, some scientists believe that looking at the proteome will be much more effective for treating certain diseases, as proteins can provide real-time insight into a patient’s health and disease state.

And note that Abcam’s antibodies are the key building blocks of the diagnostic panels that will be used to detect disease. As Johnson wrote:

According to Souda, these diagnostic tools haven’t yet been fully built, but their potential is significant, especially in diseases that aren’t driven purely by genetics. Cancer, for instance, has a significant genetic component, whereas heart disease is driven by a combination of factors. “Many chronic diseases are a function of our environment and lifestyle patterns—the genetic component is there, but they’re more environmentally driven,” Souda explains. “In order to identify what’s really happening, one really has to look at a snapshot using proteomics technology.”

This will translate to proteomics being a major growth industry. Grandview Research forecast that the global proteomics market size was valued at $22.3 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.5% from 2022 to 2030. According to Grandview, the key factor driving this growth is rising demand for personalized medicines and advanced diagnostics in targeted disease treatment and the high prevalence of those target diseases.

That’s why SVB Securities says Abcam’s goal of hitting sales of between £450 million ($530 million) and £525 million ($618 million) by 2024 as “conservative” given the company early leadership status in proteomics.

Abcam’s Future Outlook

While the future may look very bright, it has not been an easy road for Abcam.

The company is just now over halfway through a five-year investment cycle, whose goal was to scale the business globally over the next decade. The debts incurred to finance expansion plans, along with the coronavirus pandemic, had the effect of knocking profit margins hard.

However, capital spending has now started to level off. Abcam forecasts that total revenue will grow this year about 20% at constant exchange rates, due to greater contribution from higher-margin products. In the first six months of its fiscal year, the company expects to report revenue of around £185 million ($217 million), up 19% year on year at constant exchange rates.

And with top-line growth and efficiency gains, the company’s board expects the adjusted operating profit margin to exceed 30% in 2024, up from 19.2% in 2021.

If the company hits the upper end of its 2024 goals, Abcam could by then be generating adjusted operating profits of $188 million a year.

That makes Abcam a speculative buy.

Biotech stocks, at the moment, remain out of favor. Abcam stock is down more than 26% over the past year and has fallen about 37% year-to-date. Slowly accumulate the stock when the price is anywhere in the teens.

Then when biotech stocks rebound, the market will recognize Abcam’s full potential, and you will have a nice gain for your portfolio.
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Everything You Need to Know About Selling Covered Calls

This article could save you a lot of money…

Because one of the biggest mistakes options traders make is trading the wrong stock at the wrong time.

If you’ve run into this problem, you know how frustrating it can be.

To have all the stars aligned for a winning trade… only to discover one crucial piece missing.

I’ve seen it time and time again.

Soon you could find yourself trying to force a trade when there isn’t one…

And that’s what gets beginners and advanced traders alike in a lot of trouble. 

That’s why in this article, I will show you how to pick the best stocks for selling covered calls…

Let’s start with the most critical step:

Picking a good stock for covered calls.

As you know, you can sell a covered call using the stocks you already own.

I think that’s excellent news, especially if you’re a beginner trader, because I’m confident your long-term holdings are good companies.

Of course, there’s always the chance that your biggest long-term holding is in a ‘meme’ stock like Bed Bath & Beyond…

And in that case, you should probably consider owning a more reliable company like Amazon.

That’s because a stock that’s considered safe by most buy-and-hold analysts typically means it can work well for covered calls. 

You can even sell covered calls on a low-cost passive index fund.

Depending on which way your trade moves…

You could be left holding the stock after the expiration date.

That’s why owning GOOD stocks that you wouldn’t mind holding for months or years is a great way to enjoy covered calls with less risk.

When you’re selling covered calls on stocks you love to hold regardless, you can win in nearly every scenario…

Think about it. You can collect income either way, but in one common scenario, you could be left with your initial shares!

And this is when a lower-priced stock like Amazon also helps out.

Why cheaper often = better 

If you recall…

On July 6, 2022, Amazon was trading for more than $2,000 per share. 

That means you’d need at least $200,000 invested in Amazon alone to be able to squeeze income out of the stock!

That’s way out of most of our leagues. 

But when Amazon decided to make a 20-for-1 stock split on June 6, that all changed. 

Now you need only one-twentieth of that – 20% – to be able to trade covered calls on them and generate income from your shares month after month.

And when a stock is affordable, you can take advantage of what’s happening in the markets quicker for more chances to collect income.

For example — I recently revealed my #1 stock for 2022 here…

One of the main reasons it won out to become my new favorite is how affordable the share prices are right now.

So when I spotted six winning trades in a row on this stock, it was easy for anyone to join in without putting too much money at risk:

But that comes down to more than just the stock price.

Here’s what you should consider next:

You have a good stock. Now what?

The next thing to look at is the premium available for the stock.

In other words:

How much are people willing to pay you for the right to your shares?

Remember, whatever happens, the seller gets to keep that premium. 

If things go well, that’s all that happens – the seller gets some cash and gets to keep his shares. 

At worst, the seller gets to keep his premium and sells his shares to the buyer for even more money.

The stock’s implied volatility is a good chart to look at when you’re considering the available premiums.

How to find your stock’s implied volatility: My go-to service is Market Chameleon, but unfortunately, their implied volatility data is only for paying users. A couple of free alternatives you can use are BarChart and Volafy. Your broker should also have this data in their ‘options’ tab.

For example, if most investors believe a stock is riskier than its asking price — you could have a good covered call trade opportunity.

Consider all this before placing your next covered calls trade, and you could soon have yourself a winning formula…

You choose whether you want to focus on the cash flow aspect, the upside potential, or make the trade more defensive in nature… 

You can do all that with covered calls!

That’s why I made this strategy the cornerstone of The ONE Trade Retirement Plan I recently unveiled — click here for the full details.

Don’t Be Part of the Coming Retirement Crisis

There is a pending retirement crisis for U.S. workers, and the only solution is to take your future into your own hands.

So today, let’s talk about a strategy to ensure your retirement years will be as you hope and dream.

I receive a daily email from a business and tech news service called The Hustle. While the emails tend to be focused on trends in technology, last week, the lead covered some uncomfortable news about retirement planning. Here is what the email said:

A 2018 study found over half of American adults think about retirement at least four times per week.

In 2022, we’ll take the over on that number.

Due to several factors, America is in the midst of a looming retirement crisis, per Bloomberg.

What’s happening?

For decades, Americans have relied on an increasingly unsteady “three-legged stool of retirement,” consisting of:

Pensions, AKA “defined-benefit plans,” which are steadily being replaced by more cost-effective defined-contribution plans funded and managed by workers.Social Security, which was introduced in the 1930s to protect Americans in their later years — but the fund’s reserves are on pace to dry up by 2035.Personal savings, which are down across the board. Only half of private-sector workers have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, and those who do lost a collective ~$3.4T in the first half of 2022.

For those that do have enough to retire, rising inflation means they may not live as comfortably as expected.

I see some critical takeaways from this information.

First, many Americans are worried about retirement, and rightfully so. Two stock market crashes in the last three years illustrate that you cannot count on stock market gains to fund a secure retirement. Also, the fact that people think about retirement that much tells me they don’t have a plan. Stressing and worrying without a plan leads to more stress and worry.

Second, if you want to have a comfortable retirement, you need to have control of as much of your retirement savings as possible. You cannot count on an employer pension or Social Security. You can’t count on suddenly, at age 65, having enough assets to provide an attractive income.

Here are a couple of things you can do right now:

Defer as much of your income as possible into your employer’s 401k or 403b plan. Make sure you max out any matching funds.Research the investment options inside of your plan. Going with the usual index or life stage funds may not give the returns you need to have the money you want at retirement age.If you can, go with self-directed investments inside of your 401k plan. Follow an income-focused approach such as my Dividend Hunter service.Start or add to additional retirement savings outside of your employer-sponsored plan. You should at least put the yearly max into an IRA or Roth IRA each year.

Finally, let’s talk about having a retirement savings plan that will work and not depend on the ebb and flow of stock market values.

With my Dividend Hunter and Monthly Dividend Multiplier services, I show members how to focus on building an income stream. Cash income can be counted on to grow and eventually be your retirement income. With my systems, which involves reinvesting dividends from high-yield investments plus making regular additional investments to accumulate retirement assets, you can grow your income by 20% to 40% per year.

My retirement savings, which follow my own recommendations, has the income growing at the high end of that range. Consider these factors:

You can have your income growing no matter what happens in the stock market. In fact, when the market is down, you buy high-yield stocks “on sale” and increase your income even faster.Your income will grow quarter after quarter and year after year. Think about that—an income stream that grows constantly and is not tied to stock market prices.You can make your income grow faster than you might expect. With the growth rates I highlighted earlier, your income will double every two to three years. Being conservative, if you have $10,000 of investment income now, in three years, it will be $20,000, in six years $40,000, and in nine years, $80,000.Even if you have just a decade until you plan to retire, you can have the confidence to build a retirement income you can count on—no guessing, no worrying, no fears that the stock market will crash.

I am very focused on providing information to the members of my services to help them manage their investments with the goal of a secure and comfortable retirement. To see how to get that information in your inbox, click here.
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white car charging

This Lithium Stock Is Up 120% and Could Run Higher

By now, everyone has heard how the shortage of semiconductors has constrained production from automakers. Well, move over semiconductors, now the lack of lithium supply threatens to hold back the entire electric vehicle (EV) revolution. And just months ago lithium carbonate prices high all-time highs.

Some prices for the key metals used in batteries for electric vehicles—which make up about 40% of the cost of a battery cell and a sizable portion of the overall cost of an EV—have fallen recently in the general selloff in commodities.

But lithium, not so much. It is still a hot commodity.

According to the Benchmark Minerals lithium price index, which covers over 90% of lithium transactions globally, lithium prices are up in excess of 120% this year to date and more than 350% year over year.

The price of lithium carbonate hit an all-time high in April, and it is still eight times what it was at the start of last year!

Importantly, lithium supplies look likely to remain tight. Mines in Australia and elsewhere shut down when the market was weak a few years ago and have been slow to respond to the rebound in demand. Production may not ramp up until next year or even later.

That’s why sourcing lithium has become a major priority in the EV competition among automakers. They are all trying to get long-term deals with lithium miners in Australia, China, Argentina, and Chile, which together account for more than 90% of the world’s lithium mining.

Automakers’ Lithium Woes

As demand threatens to overwhelm supply, vehicle makers will likely battle for the rest of the decade to secure the lithium they need.

Kent Masters is the CEO of Albemarle (ALB), the largest publicly traded lithium producer. During the latest earnings presentation, he said the market for lithium will remain tight despite efforts to unlock more of the metal. “It’s systemic for a pretty long period of time,” he said of the challenge facing the industry. “For seven to eight years, it stays pretty tight.”

As usual for commodities, when it comes to Wall Street, most analysts are pessimistic. With the prospect of higher lithium prices, Wall Street expects technological advances will yield more supply within a couple of years.

Please don’t believe that fairy tale, told by people with little understanding of commodities.

Eric Norris, the president of lithium at Albemarle, said hopes for a rush of supply overestimates the ability of lithium producers to match demand from automakers that has become “broader, deeper and more certain.”

Here’s the reality: lithium companies have historically delivered as much as 25% less production than expected in a given year because of chronic delays and technical mishaps.

Lithium mining projects typically take between six and 19 years from an initial feasibility study to actual production. That is the longest of any of the materials involved in electric batteries, according to a report last month from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA added that the world needs another 60 lithium mines by 2030 to meet all the decarbonization and electric vehicle plans of national governments.

Scott Yarham of S&P Global Commodity Insights summed up the situation perfectly, saying: “There’s a lot of investment in battery cell manufacturing in Europe and the U.S., but not sufficient enough in the raw materials. There’s going to be a big disconnect.”

Morningstar’s view of the lithium market is also optimistic. Analysts there recently said: “…our current view [is] that the lithium market will remain under-supplied throughout the rest of the decade, supporting prices well above the marginal cost of production…As electric vehicle penetration increases, we expect high-double-digit annual growth for global lithium demand, one of the best growth profiles among commodities.”

This will translate to the lithium mining companies making a lot of money for a very long time.

Here’s the company that has been my favorite for years—and it’s one that pays a decent dividend.

SQM: Lithium Powerhouse

Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM) is located in Chile.

Here’s what Morningstar said about SQM: “Through its access to high-quality mineral deposits, Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile is a large, low-cost producer of lithium, iodine, and nitrates used in specialty fertilizers. SQM’s crown jewels are its geologically advantaged lithium and caliche ore assets. SQM’s low-cost lithium deposit in the Salar de Atacama”—the lowest-cost lithium deposit in the world, in fact—“boasts the highest concentration of lithium globally and benefits from high evaporation rates in the Chilean desert.”

SQM is a major supplier in the lithium carbonate market. Long term, the company plans to expand its

carbonate capacity to at least 250,000 metric tons from just 70,000 tons in 2019.

As far as its other businesses go, SQM is a market leader in potassium nitrate, a specialty fertilizer used in high-value crops, including fruits and vegetables. And SQM is also the world’s largest producer of iodine, used in X-ray contrast media, pharmaceuticals, and LCD films.

However, lithium remains the big moneymaker. SQM’s lithium business generated 75% of company-wide gross profits during the first quarter, a number that should continue to grow as volumes rise. The company’s average realized lithium price was nearly $38,000 per metric ton during the first quarter, above most other producers globally.

I believe SQM has the best approach to lithium prices among all producers. The company sells 80% of lithium volumes via either short-term contracts or spot prices. By selling the majority of its lithium under short-term contracts, the company can fully take advantage of rising prices, which should result in a higher average realized price and higher profits over the years.

SQM has some outstanding financial characteristics, as well. It boasts an extremely healthy net margin figure of 20.45, cash and cash equivalents of $2.3 billion on the balance sheet, and extremely healthy cashflow pouring in off the back of a surge in demand for its lithium products.

SQM also pays a respectable dividend—its current annual yield is 2.7%. The company normally pays a quarterly dividend and an occasional special dividend. While the dividends may be variable, its 4-year average dividend yield is nearly 84% higher than the sector average.

The stock itself is up 127% over the past year and 120 % year-to-date, as the price of lithium has soared. Expect more price gains for both lithium and the stock. It’s a buy anywhere up to $120 per share.
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optical switch connector with similar cables in building

This Unexpected Stock is the Real 5G Winner

Ever since the onset of the pandemic, one consistent characteristic of the global economy has come to the fore again and again: shortages of physical goods.

The latest shortage to rear its head is a worldwide shortage of fiber-optic cable, driving up prices and lengthened product delivery times and endangering telecommunications companies’ ambitious plans to roll out state-of-the art 5G telecommunications infrastructure.

Fiber-Optic Cable Shortage

The consultancy CRU Group says cable shortages are particularly acute in Europe, India, and China. In those locations, prices for fiber-optic cables have soared by up to 70% from the record lows in March 2021, from $3.70 to $6.30 per kilometer (1 kilometer = 0.621371 miles).

Overall, the price for fiber-optic cable has now reached its highest levels since July 2019. And lead times for some products have stretched out from just 20 weeks to nearly a year for many smaller customers.

As CRU analyst Michael Finch told the Financial Times: “Given that the cost of deployment has suddenly doubled, there are now questions around whether countries are going to be able to meet targets set for infrastructure build, and whether this could have an impact on global connectivity.”

CRU told the Financial Times that total cable consumption jumped by 8.1% in the first half of 2022 compared with the same time last year. China accounted for 46% of the total; North America came in as the fastest growing region, with a 15% year-over-year increase.

So why have the shortages occurred? The answer is the same as in the semiconductor industry: shortages and rising prices for many of the crucial components that go into making fiber-optic cables.

There is an ongoing shortage of helium, a key component in the manufacture of fiber-optic glass, thanks to plant outages in both Russia and the U.S. This has caused helium prices to spike by 135% over the past two years. In addition, CRU reports, prices of another key component in fiber production, silicon tetrachloride, have increased by up to 50%.

The CEO of Corning (GLW), Wendell Weeks, said to the Financial Times, “In my professional career I’ve never seen anything like this inflationary crunch.” Corning, which is the biggest producer of fiber-optic cable in the world and played a major role in inventing the technology in 1970, is ramping up production capabilities to meet soaring demand coming from governments, telecoms companies and big tech groups like Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Meta. The company is building new facilities in both the Europe and the U.S.

Let’s take a closer look at Corning.

Corning: Fiber Optics and More

Corning is much more than just a producer of fiber-optic cables: the company is a materials science giant with differentiated glass products for televisions, notebooks, mobile devices, wearables, optical fiber, cars, and pharmaceutical packaging. Corning is also the leading global supplier of precision glass for liquid crystal displays, and participates in the environmental business, with a focus on emission substrates for gasoline and diesel engines as well as producing polysilicon for the solar industry.

The company is also active in the life sciences business, producing vaccine vials. Its specialty materials operations produce Gorilla Glass, the fast-growing, tough-cover glass used in smartphones and tablets.

In its 170 years of operation, the company has always been an innovator, including inventing the aforementioned glass optical fibers and ceramic substrates for catalytic converters. That innovation is a direct result of Corning’s ability to use its scale to invest heavily in research and development—$1 billion or more per year—and spread these expenses across its five segments: optical communications, display technologies, environmental technologies, life sciences, and specialty materials.

Corning is a winner in many of these segments, with a leading market share in four distinct end markets: optical fiber, display glass, cover glass, and emissions substrates/filters.

But, most importantly, Corning, being a key enabler of 5G networks, has a product portfolio that’s nicely aligned toward the worldwide secular trends of increasing connectivity and efficiency.

Secular demand strength in this segment will offset any weakness in demand elsewhere. For example, in the second quarter, the optical fiber segment grew 22% year over year. That turned Corning’s results from just average to a good overall result.

Argus Research said this about Corning: “In our view, GLW shares appear to more than discount the challenges ahead, without fully reflecting the myriad opportunities in Corning’s varied end markets.”

I totally agree, making GLW a buy anywhere in the mid-to-upper $30s per share.
What’s the one thing you need to stay retired? That’s right… cash. Money to pay the bills. Money to weather any financial crisis like the one we’re in now and whatever comes next. I’ve located three stocks that if you buy and hold them forever, they could serve as the backbone to your retirement. Click here for details.