I’ve come to think that while some companies strive to make Wall Street analysts and large portfolio managers happy, others put common investors like us first. A company’s dividend policy will be a telling factor about on which side a company’s management team and board of directors fall.
Small investor-friendly companies pay out a significant portion of profits or cash flow as dividends and continuously strive to grow their dividend rates. Investing in stocks like these, with attractive yields and growing dividends, is a proven strategy for building wealth.
Here are some clues that tell you a company is more focused on making the Wall Street analysts happy…
Companies refer to share buybacks as “returning capital to shareholders.” I don’t see it working that way. If my shares are repurchased, I am no longer a shareholder. The theory is that buying in shares reduces the share count, which will help increase earnings per share (EPS) for those who remain shareholders after the buyback. But as we all know, growing earnings don’t always boost the share price. Without a corresponding dividend increase, I see share buybacks as throwing money (sometimes a lot of money) down a hole.
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)
Large pension and other fund managers put a lot of weight on ESG scores. These types of investment pools are so large that they have no potential to produce above-average returns, so fund managers can help themselves feel better by investing in companies that are working to save the planet.
Unfortunately, I doubt whether the ESG rules and scores, at least as they currently exist, do much good for the environment or investors. I know they can make a CEO feel better about keeping a corporate jet if they fund the seeding of the rainforest, but I have not noticed how an overly heavy focus on ESG helps my net worth grow.
In contrast to the Wall Street analysts and big money fund managers, we, as individual investors, most want to see our brokerage and retirement accounts grow with above-average total returns. How much you make depends on your risk tolerance and how aggressively you invest, but a significant portion of your returns should be in the form of cash dividends.
The shutdown of the economy due to the pandemic forced many companies to change their dividend policies. Now, two and a half years later, I am watching closely to see what companies continue their pandemic changes versus making a return to taking care of individual investors with great dividend policies.
Here are a couple of examples:
Last week, Main Street Capital (MAIN), a top-tier business development company (BDC), announced an increase in the monthly dividends the company will pay in the fourth quarter. The new dividend rate of $0.22 per share gives the third half-cent increase since the beginning of 2020. Main Street Capital also pays supplemental dividends when its profits allow, and a $0.10 bonus dividend will be paid in September. This is one of those conservative, investor-focused companies from which investors can count on stable, growing monthly dividends.
In early 2021, upstream oil and gas producer Devon Energy (DVN) announced a new dividend policy to pay out 50% of free cash flow as dividends to investors. The dividends are a combination of fixed and variable components. Since the start of 2021, the fixed dividend has grown from $0.11 per share to $0.16. Total (fixed-plus-variable) dividends paid for the last six quarters have been $0.34, $0.49, $0.84, $1.00, $1.27, and $1.55 sequentially. As the price of oil rose and Devon became more efficient, the company rewarded investors with rapidly growing dividends. Based on the $1.55 payout declared last week, DVN yields 10%.
The financial and stock market world is geared to the wants and wishes of Wall Street and the large money they advise. As individuals, we need to dig out those dividend-paying companies that want to help small investors grow their wealth and income.That’s exactly what I do with my “Diamond Dividends” strategy, which lets you increase your income by up to 108% in just 7 months, without any options or trading. See for yourself right here.
This post was originally published on InvestorsAlley