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In February, the first 2018 Roth IRA deposit will be made to the Dividend Meter portfolio, so last Friday’s steep drop in the stock market is a welcome pullback for stock prices.  Before we get to a preview of February, here’s how dividend income rose $227.52 in January:

Date Total Annual Dividends Notes
1/31/2018 $8,891.23 AFL dividend increase, raises meter reading $20.72
1/16/2018 $8,870.51 OHI dividend increase, raises meter reading $11.04
1/12/2018 $8,859.47 Sold 53 KSS at $63.41, used proceeds to buy 197 shares of KIM at $17.00, raises meter reading $104.04
1/10/2018 $8,755.43 Purchased 20 additional shares of PPL with approx. $600 in accumulated cash dividends, raises meter reading $31.60
1/8/2018 $8,723.83 Sold 20 WM at $87.72, used proceeds plus approximately $200 in accumulated cash dividends to buy 181 AES at $10.87, raises meter reading $60.12

Sold Kohl’s – Bought Kimco Realty

In the short term, the purchase of Kimco Realty (KIM) appears to be very premature. But quite honestly, I wasn’t comfortable holding a pure play clothing retailer in the portfolio, and with Kohl’s (KSS) nearing a predetermined dividend Sell yield of 3%, I decided to go ahead and make the swap for Kimco, a retail REIT.  The transaction significantly boosts dividend income, and keeps a small percentage of the overall portfolio still invested in retail, albeit in real restate.  By the way, the original purchase of Kohl’s shares occurred on January 5th, 2017 at $42.35 per share with a dividend yield of 4.72%.  The KSS shares were sold on January 12, 2018 at $63.41 per share (yield of 3.47%) for a gain of nearly 50% in one year.

Sold More Waste Management

With shares of Waste Management (WM) continuing to trade with a dividend yield of less than 2%, additional shares of WM were sold in January and invested in AES Corporation (AES) – essentially trading trash service for electricity.  The current dividend yield for AES is 4.50%, with projections of approximately 10% annual dividend growth for the next few years.

February Preview

  • $1,500.00 in new capital will be added to the portfolio for a 2018 Roth IRA contribution.
  • Six potential dividend increases from:  ETN, PPL, CMP ADM, WM, and DPS (Although the pending merger with Keurig Green Mountain could impact the expected Dr. Pepper Snapple dividend hike.)
  • Dividend cut from SNR? (New Senior Investment Group Inc.)

Data Import Update

Stay tuned for very positive news soon.

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Happy New Year!  2017 is in the books, and it’s time to provide a year-end Dividend Meter portfolio update.  First, let’s take a look at what happened in December:

Date Total Annual Dividends Notes
12/19/2017 $8,663.71 PFE dividend increase, raises meter reading $27.76
12/12/2017 $8,635.95 AMGN dividend increase, raises meter reading $35.36
12/11/2017 $8,600.59 BA dividend increase, raises meter reading $33.64
12/11/2017 $8,566.95 AES dividend increase, raises meter reading $10.28
12/8/2017 $8,556.67 Purchased 23 additional shares of ADM at $41.25 with just over $900 in accumulated cash dividends, raises meter reading $29.44

Four dividend hikes and a purchase of more shares of ADM (Archer Daniels Midland Company) with paid cash dividends resulted in an annual dividend income increase of $136.48 compared to November’s Dividend Meter reading.

2017 Recap

  • Total annual dividend income rose $1,655.65 compared to the end of 2016, an increase of 23.62%.
  • The only new capital added to the portfolio was $5,500 for a 2017 Roth IRA contribution.
  • No withdrawals from any of the accounts.
  • No dividend cuts in 2017!

Spreadsheet Updates

Last month we began the process of evaluating dividend data import alternatives for the spreadsheet.  While we continue to explore and evaluate other potential data solutions, work on our own solution has made significant progress in the past few weeks.  We are now monitoring more than 500 dividend growth stocks, and in addition to tracking annual dividend amount and earnings-per-share, we are gathering the following additional data points:

  • Declaration Date of Last Dividend Increase
  • Percentage Increase of Last Dividend Increase
  • Upcoming Dividend Ex-Date
  • Upcoming Dividend Payable Date

We are also examining dividend yield histories for the 500+ companies we are following to determine a proprietary Dividend Meter “Low Yield” and “High Yield” for each stock.  A “Watch List” tab has been added to the spreadsheet that imports the Low Yield and High Yield data points from the Dividend Meter Data File tab, compares the figures to the current dividend yield, and flashes a simple red indicator if the stock is potentially overvalued, and a green indicator for an undervalued condition.  The indicators are simply starting points for additional research before we make buy or sell decisions, but the ability to scan over 500 stocks at a glance with the indicators is awesome.  You can see how the new spreadsheet works and monitor progress of the indicator research with the email address widget on the right-hand sidebar of our website.  Be sure to check back next month for updates – we wish you much success with your investments in 2018.

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Whoa, what happened to my Dividend Meter spreadsheet?  I know many of you, including myself, were incredibly frustrated this past month when the automatic import of dividend data stopped working.  For those unaware, the Dividend Meter spreadsheet used common import formulas to retrieve dividend data from a popular finance portal’s free and open API service. The API service is no longer available.  While this news is disappointing for Dividend Meter fans, it has also served as a catalyst to explore alternate solutions – solutions that potentially could provide a superior dividend tracking spreadsheet. Before we get to a summary of solutions currently being explored, let’s take a brief look at what happened to the Dividend Meter portfolio in November:

Date Total Annual Dividends Notes
11/9/2017 $8,527.23 SIX dividend increase, raises meter reading $27.84
11/8/2017 $8,499.39 ADP dividend increase, raises meter reading $4.80
11/4/2017 $8,494.59 SWM dividend increase, raises meter reading $9.88
11/3/2017 $8,484.71 Sold 50 AWR, used proceeds and approx. $30 in accumulated cash dividends to buy 257 AES, raises meter reading $72.36
11/2/2017 $8,412.35 SBUX dividend increase, raises meter reading $24.00

November Summary

Four stock dividend increases and a swap of all remaining shares of American Water States (AWR) for AES Corporation (AES) combined to push the annual dividend income for the portfolio past the $8,400.00 and $8,500.00 barriers in November.  Selling the remaining shares of American Water States was a difficult decision – it’s one of a small handful of companies that have raised their dividend for more than 50 consecutive years. However, with the recent price increase of AWR shares, the dividend yield dropped further into the “sell” zone.  I felt it was a good time to take advantage of AWR’s lofty valuation and trade all remaining shares of the stock, yielding 1.88%, for a different utility company yielding 4.50%: AES Corp., a diversified electricity generation company.

Now on to potential solutions for fixing your Dividend Meter spreadsheet….

Manual Dividend Meter Fix

Let’s start with some good news – the formula for importing stock prices from Google Finance into your Google Sheets dividend tracker still works:   =(GOOGLEFINANCE($C2, “price”))   (Note, $C2 is the cell reference for the stock symbol).  The stock price is the data figure that changes most frequently, so it’s great to still be able to import this variable into your spreadsheet for free from Google Finance.  The only other data point you need to calculate dividend yield is the annual dividend rate, which typically only changes once a year.  So, if your portfolio of stocks isn’t that large, it shouldn’t be too time-consuming to verify the current dividend rate for your stocks periodically and manually update your spreadsheet for the annual dividend figure.  If you still want to see the Dividend Payout Ratio on your spreadsheet, then you have more work to do to update the EPS share data point (this changes quarterly after each earnings announcement).  After EPS is collected, then the Dividend Payout Ratio is simply a calculation (Annual Dividend dividend by Earnings-Per-Share), and not a data figure that needs to be imported.

Other Finance Data Providers

I have started evaluating other finance data providers, keeping in mind the following attributes:  Affordable, Easy-to-Use, Reliable, Quality Data, and an Expansion of Dividend-related Data Points.  Honestly, it’s too early to pass judgement or recommend any other data provider as a potential solution, so I won’t mention any specific companies yet.  The “Expansion of Dividend-related Data Points” characteristic of a data provider has been elusive.  The data providers I’ve looked at seem to provide the basics:  stock price, dividend, payout ratio.  But I haven’t come across an ideal solution yet.  I would love to have these additional data points:  Ex-Date, Payable Date, Date of Last Dividend Increase, Percentage Increase of Last Dividend Raise.  My desire to import certain stock dividend data points has led me to explore the creation of a proprietary solution:  The Dividend Meter Data File.

The Dividend Meter Data File – a Potential Future Solution

Often, the easiest solution of extracting meaningful information from a larger pool of data is to utilize an existing formula within both Excel and Google Sheets:  Index and Match.  It’s possible to upload or import a massive data file into Excel or Google Sheets on one particular tab, and then use another tab to quickly and efficiently extract what you need to replicate, even enhance, the functionality of the Dividend Meter spreadsheet using Index and Match.  My own current spreadsheet is using this method now, and you can see how it works by submitting your email address in the “View the Spreadsheet” box to the right.

You’ll notice a new tab on my spreadsheet (shown below), “Dividend_Meter_Data_File”.  The Dividend Meter Data File tab is auto-populated with data using a simple Google Sheets ImportRange formula:

=IMPORTRANGE(“1WXa9VSIm_I8H44sLRwAH–Xp9hLpnzY7_Q7BxlGAlto”,“Sheet1!A1:W5000”)

The strange code between the quotation marks in the above formula references a master data file that is currently being populated by a new partner of mine, an aspiring finance student who has started the work of manually (to avoid any violations of Terms of Service) collecting and verifying stock dividend data.  Eventually, access to the data file could be made available to Dividend Meter subscribers for a very low monthly fee.  But first, many hours of work need to be invested in building and keeping the data up-to-date.  Stay tuned for further updates…..

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The needle on the Dividend Meter gauge chart rose a modest $77.37 during October. Here’s a summary of the activity:

Date Total Annual Dividends Notes
10/25/2017 $8,388.35 AFL dividend increase, raises meter reading $5.92
10/25/2017 $8,382.43 Sold 25 PII, used proceeds to buy 36 shares of DPS at $84.70 in Roth IRA, raises meter reading $25.32
10/16/2017 $8,356.91 With approximately $425 in accumulated cash dividend in Roth IRA, bought 17 shares of SKT at $25.05 per share, raises meter reading $23.29
10/12/2017 $8,333.62 OHI dividend increase, raises meter reading $11.04
10/4/2017 $8,322.58 With approximately $435 in accumulated cash dividends in IRA Rollover, bought 5 shares of DPS at $86.92, raises meter reading $11.60

Trading Polaris for Dr. Pepper

On October 24th, 2017, Polaris Industries Inc. (PII) released a stellar earnings report, vaulting the stock more than $16.00 (or 15%) in one day.  The huge move in Polaris’ stock price pushed the dividend yield very close to a predetermined sell yield of 1.8%. With Dr. Pepper Snapple (DPS) continuing to move down in October, an opportunity to lock in gains on PII and raise overall dividend income for the portfolio presented itself.  Polaris (PII) was sold at $123.30 and the proceeds were used to buy more shares of Dr. Pepper at $84.70 (dividend yield of 2.74%).

Polaris Industries was originally identified as a buying opportunity in April of this year when the dividend yield was at 3%.  Twenty-five PII shares were purchased on April 12, 2017 at $81.19 per share.  After selling at $123.30, a whopping gain of over 50% was realized in only six months.

Looming Dividend Cut in November?

With a still-to-be-announced dividend raise from Starbuck’s (SBUX) and cash dividends waiting to be reinvested in November, it seems inevitable the Dividend Meter will break the $8,400.00 annual dividend income barrier.  However, it is possible one of the portfolio’s smaller speculative high-yield positions, New Senior Investment Group (SNR), will cut its dividend.  Last year, SNR announced a quarterly dividend on November 2, 2016, so the new dividend announcement could happen any day – stay tuned…

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Déjà vu. September portfolio activity was nearly identical to August for the Dividend Meter: Two dividend increases and a purchase of more shares of DFS (Discover Financial Services) combined to modestly boost total annual dividend income by $39.00:

Date Total Annual Dividends Notes
9/26/2017 $8,310.98 OGE dividend increase, raises meter reading $22.80
9/15/2017 $8,288.18 With approximately $480 in accumulated cash dividends in IRA Rollover, bought 8 shares of DFS at $58.51 per share, raises meter reading $11.20
9/7/2017 $8,276.98 VZ dividend increase, raises meter reading $5.00

The purchase of DFS on September 15th at $58.51 per share was very timely, since the stock steadily moved higher during the second half of September to finish the month at $64.48 / share. With a recent dividend hike of 17%, a dividend payout ratio of only 25%, and projected earnings growth of over 10% next year, Discover Financial Services has plenty of room for continued dividend growth.

October Preview

We’re still waiting for a dividend declaration from SBUX (Starbucks Corp.), which could happen any day now in October. Other portfolio positions that could announce dividend increases in October include: OHI (Omega Healthcare Investors, Inc.), and AFL (Aflac, Inc.).  Any new incoming cash dividends will likely be used to purchase more shares of DPS (Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc.) – if the stock continues to trade with a dividend yield greater than 2.6% (or less than $89.00 per share).

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August was a quiet month for the Dividend Meter portfolio; so this update will be brief.  Two dividend increases and an additional purchase of Discover Financial Services (DFS) with accumulated cash dividends raised total annual income by $31.10:

Date Total Annual Dividends Notes
8/22/2017 $8,271.98 With approximately $540 in accumulated cash dividends in IRA Rollover, bought 9 shares of DFS at $59.25 per share, raises meter reading $12.60
8/16/2017 $8,259.38 FAF dividend increase, raises meter reading $16.00
8/2/2017 $8,243.38 AWR dividend increase, raises meter reading $2.50

September Preview

Barring any major trades, the month of September may be similar to August, with a planned purchase of more shares of DFS with any incoming dividends (if Discover’s stock price stays anywhere below $63.50, or a dividend yield above 2.2%).  In September, dividend increase announcements are expected from Verizon (VZ), Starbucks (SBUX), and OGE Energy Corporation (OGE).

To all who labor, I hope you get to enjoy a nice long Labor Day weekend.

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The needle on the Dividend Meter moved up $222.01 in July.  Most of the increase was a result of selling one of the portfolio’s larger stock positions, Metlife (MET), and using the proceeds to buy three stocks with higher dividend yields. Also, three other companies reported dividend increases in July:  Hershey’s (HSY), Discover Financial Services (DFS), and Omega Healthcare Investors (OHI).  Here are the spreadsheet summary notes for July:

Date Total Annual Dividends Notes
7/26/2017 $8,240.88 HSY dividend increase, raises meter reading $6.00
7/25/2017 $8,234.88 DFS dividend increase, raises meter reading $16.20
7/18/2017 $8,218.68 Sold 222 MET, used proceeds and approx. $400 in accumulated cash dividends to buy 100 ADM (new position), 100 SWM, and 181 SKT in IRA Rollover, raises meter reading $188.77
7/14/2017 $8,029.91 OHI dividend increase, raises meter reading $11.04

Metlife – 32% Winner

Metlife was originally added to the portfolio in 2016 when the dividend yield was approximately 3.8%.  The actual purchase details are as follows:

08/19/2016 Buy 67 MET – METLIFE INC $40.11 ($2,696.07)
06/03/2016 Buy 13 MET – METLIFE INC $44.08 ($581.99)
03/08/2016 Buy 142 MET – METLIFE INC $42.00 ($5,972.79)
Total ($9,250.85)

On July 18th, 2017, with the stock trading at $55.10 and yielding 2.8%, all shares of Metlife were sold for $12,226.96, a gain of $2,976.11, or approximately 32%!  The proceeds from the sale were used to purchase ADM, SWM, and SKT at the following prices and dividend yields – this is Dividend Yield Theory compounding at work….

ADM – Archer Daniels Midland    $41.43      3.09%

SWM – Schweitzer-Mauduit         $37.49      4.48%

SKT – Tanger Factory Outlet        $26.44      5.19%

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It’s time for fireworks – the Dividend Meter portfolio broke through the $8k annual income barrier in June! Here’s how the needle on the Dividend Meter moved up $316.37 in just one month:

Date Total Annual Dividends Notes
6/28/2017 $8,018.87 GIS dividend increase, raises meter reading $7.44
6/27/2017 $8,011.43 Sold 37 JNJ, used proceeds and approx. $360 in accrued cash dividends to buy 147 shares of SWM in IRA Rollover #2, raises meter reading $122.64
6/27/2017 $7,888.79 With approximately $450 in accumulated cash dividends in Regular brokerage account, bought 8 more shares of QCOM, raises meter reading $18.24
6/9/2017 $7,870.55 Sold 50 AWR, used proceeds and approx. $100 in accrued cash dividends in Roth IRA to buy 99 SKT in IRA Rollover #2, raises meter reading $87.13
6/8/2017 $7,783.42 Sold 68 AWR, used proceeds and approx. $125 in accrued cash dividends to buy 51 CMP in IRA Rollover #2, raises meter reading $80.92

Taking Profits and Doubling Dividend Income

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and American States Water Co. (AWR) have been wonderful investments for the Dividend Meter portfolio. For the past several weeks, JNJ and AWR stock prices have risen significantly, pushing their respective dividend yields to historical low ranges and very close to my predetermined sell points (see screenshot of the spreadsheet below for AWR reference).  With new buying opportunities showing up on the Dividend Meter Watch List, it was a great time to sell a few shares of stock yielding 2% and use the proceeds to buy other investments yielding over 4% (CMP, SKT, and SWM).

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc. (SKT) and Schweitzer-Mauduit International, Inc. (SWM) are new positions for the portfolio.  Tanger, a publicly-traded REIT, is trading near its 52-week low, despite having announced a dividend increase in April and new share repurchase plan in May.  Tanger (SKT) has increased its dividend for 24 consecutive years.  Schweitzer-Mauduit International has traditionally been known for producing cigarette papers; however, the Company manufactures many other product lines such as medical bandages and industrial laminates. Recent acquisitions and product diversification has helped SWM reverse a trend of declining revenues within the past year.

Looking Ahead

The needle on the Dividend Meter should continue to move higher in July as dividend increase announcements are expected from:  Metlife Inc. (MET), and Discover Financial Services (DFS).  Be sure to check in again next month to monitor the progress.

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Only four spreadsheet entries to report for May, so this month’s update will be brief. Projected annual dividend income broke through the $7,600 and $7,700 barriers!

Date Total Annual Dividends Notes
5/26/2017 $7,702.50 With approximately $460 in accumulated cash dividends in IRA Rollover account #1, bought 8 shares QCOM, raises meter reading $18.24
5/4/2017 $7,684.26 PEP dividend increase, raises meter reading $3.36
5/4/2017 $7,680.90 Sold 25 WM, deposited $1,000 towards Roth IRA (completes 2017 contribution), and added $60 in accumulated dividends to buy 76 UFS, raises meter reading by $83.66
5/2/2017 $7,597.24 AAPL dividend increase, raises meter reading $18.00

The largest dividend income increase, $83.66, came from adding a new $1,000 cash deposit to a Roth IRA, selling 25 shares of Waste Management (currently yielding about 2.3%) and then using the total proceeds to buy 76 shares of Domtar Corporation (symbol: UFS). Domtar currently offers a dividend yield of approximately 4.4% and is a new position for the Dividend Meter portfolio. In addition to producing numerous paper products, Domtar also makes many disposable, recurring-purchase items such as medical gowns and diapers, including adult incontinence products, which could be a growth opportunity for the Company.  After a few years of declining revenue, UFS needs to find a growth catalyst to replace lines of paper products that continue to be digitized.

With 2017’s Roth IRA now fully funded and no additional deposits planned for the rest of the year, increases to the Dividend Meter income stream will need to come from dividend increases, reinvestment of dividends, and strategic sales of low-yield stocks with accompanying buys of higher yield opportunities. Be sure to check in regularly for updates and have a great summer.

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It’s time to check out the Dividend Meter Spreadsheet to see what happened in April.  Here’s a summary from the History tab:

Date Total Annual Dividends Notes
4/28/2017 $7,579.24 Sold 30 WM, used proceeds and approx. $250 in accrued cash dividends to buy 36 CMP in IRA Rollover #2, raises meter reading by $52.68
4/27/2017 $7,526.56 AVY dividend increase, raises meter reading $3.20
4/27/2017 $7,523.36 JNJ dividend increase, raises meter reading $13.92
4/19/2017 $7,509.44 OHI dividend increase, raises meter reading $11.04
4/12/2017 $7,498.40 Added $2,000 to Roth IRA towards 2017 contribution, bought 25 PII, raises meter reading by $58.00

April Highlights

Compared to last month’s meter reading, total annual projected dividends rose $138.84 in April. Two new positions were added to the portfolio (identified by the Watch List as trading in their respective high-yield dividend zone): Polaris Industries (ticker symbol: PII) and Compass Minerals International (ticker symbol: CMP).

Polaris Industries makes snowmobiles, jet skis, motorcycles (heard of Indian motorcycles?), and other off-road vehicles. In addition, the Company sells parts and apparel related to recreational vehicles. PII’s stock price has been depressed the past months due to numerous product recalls; however, Polaris keeps growing revenues.  After studying the historical dividend yields for Polaris, a buy-yield of 2.9% and a sell-yield of 1.8% were set for the Dividend Meter Watch List.   When Polaris’ stock price recently dipped into the upper 70’s and low 80’s in April, it was showing a dividend yield of 3% and became a buying opportunity. 25 shares of PII were purchased with a cash deposit of $2,000 towards a 2017 Roth IRA contribution (only $1,000 left to contribute for 2017!).

Compass Minerals International, Inc. produces salt products (primarily road deicer salt) and plant fertilizers. The Company has raised its dividend each year for twelve years in a row, and examining the yield charts, appears to be a good buy when the yield is over 4% (For the Dividend Stocks Watch List, the buy-yield is set to 4.1% and sell-yield at 2.5%).  To fund the purchase of CMP, 30 shares of Waste Management (WM) were sold from the portfolio.  Waste Management has been such a great investment – it’s a difficult decision to sell any shares of WM, but the stock has run up significantly over the past few months and is trading near a historically low average dividend yield. Fortunately, 90 shares of WM are still held in the Dividend Meter portfolio.

Looking Ahead to May

Barring any surprise dividend cuts, the meter reading for the Dividend Meter portfolio should break the $7,600.00 barrier in May.  Tomorrow, May 2nd, Apple (AAPL) will report quarterly earnings and will likely announce a dividend increase also.  Apple’s share price has steadily increased during the past few months and has reached the Spreadsheet’s sell-yield signal of 1.6%. With a new dividend increase, Apple’s yield should move above 1.6% and all shares will continue to be held in the portfolio. Good luck to all with your investing and be sure to check in again next month.

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