Tuesday, September 19, 2017

An interesting look at share dilution and share buybacks

I did some homework yesterday to review what the number of outstanding shares looks like for each of the companies that I hold. As a background, companies usually buy back shares to reduce the number of outstanding shares on the open market. Companies are measured by earnings per share (EPS). This is done by dividing total earnings of the company by the total number of shares on the market. With a lower share count, the EPS goes higher. Also with a lower share count, the company does not have to dish out so much cash to pay for all those quarterly dividends.For example Coca Cola pays 37 cents per dividend every quarter. If they bought back 10,000,000 shares back for $460,000,000 then they would be able to save paying $14.8M a year in dividends.

Companies can also dilute shares. Sometimes a company needs to finance a large acquisition. Or maybe the company needs more money for various reasons to operate. Diluting shares is bad for investors unless the money spent is able to add more to the earnings relative to how much dilution occurs. Usually debt heavy industries such as real estate and utilties dilute shares to fund expansion. With each new share sold on the open market, the amount of dividend dollars a company needs to pay increases. Every new share needs to be paid the dividend making the dividend burden even bigger.

I get my share data from Morningstar. I look at a 5 year window up to 2016 and just divide the percentage decline or increase over that 5 year period to get a rough estimate of how much the company on average changes the number of shares.

The example above shows Illinois Tool Works (ITW). In my portfolio this company has been the best at reducing share count over a 5 year window and they are also a very well performing dividend aristocrat with rising earnings per share. The share count at the end of 2016 was 357M and it was only 495M 5 years earlier. This is a very impressive decrease of 5.5-6% a year.

I did this investigation for all of my holdings. I noticed that a lot of my best portfolio performers have very nice share count decreases. These include ITW, Home Depot (HD), Visa (V), MasterCard (MA), Ross Stores (ROST), and 3M (MMM). Most of my normal "C" Corps have made an attempt to reduce or at least keep the number of shares flat. Keep in mind companies do pay their execs and employees stock for bonuses and incentives. Companies have to keep buying these stock back in order to avoid diluting the share base.

Name Ticker Sector ShareCnt5yr
Illinois Tool Works Inc. ITW Industrial -6%
Home Depot Inc HD Discret -4%
McDonald's Corporation MCD Discret -4%
Visa Inc V Financial -3%
Mastercard Inc MA Financial -3%
Ross Stores Inc ROST Discret -3%
3M Co MMM Industrial -3%
TJX Companies Inc TJX Discret -3%
Bard (C.R.) Inc BCR Health -3%
Philip Morris International Inc PM Staples -2%
PepsiCo PEP Staples -2%
General Mills, Inc. GIS Staples -2%
Kimberly-Clark KMB Staples -2%
Automatic Data Proc, Inc ADP Tech -2%
Church & Dwight CHD Staples -2%
Colgate-Palmolive Co CL Staples -2%
Altria Group Inc MO Staples -1%
McCormick & Company MKC Staples -1%
Procter & Gamble Co PG Staples -1%
The Coca-Cola Co KO Staples -1%
Stryker Corporation SYK Health -1%
Abbott Laboratories ABT Health -1%
Johnson & Johnson JNJ Health 0%
Becton Dickinson and Co BDX Health 0%
Starbucks Corporation SBUX Discret 0%
Clorox Co CLX Staples 0%
Hormel Foods Corporation HRL Staples 0%
Air Products & Chemicals, Inc APD Materials 0%
AT&T Inc T Telecom 1%
Xcel Energy Inc XEL Utilities 1%
Dominion Resources, Inc D Utilities 1%
The J. M. Smucker Company SJM Staples 1%
Aqua America Inc WTR Utilities 1%
NextEra Energy Inc NEE Utilities 2%
Southern Co SO Utilities 2%
Federal Realty Investment Trust FRT REIT 3%
WEC Energy Group, Inc. WEC Utilities 7%
Realty Income Corp O REIT 40%
Kraft Heinz Co KHC Staples N/A
Medtronic plc MDT Health N/A

Some companies are the product of mergers and acquisitions so I was not able to really get a good idea of share count growth or decline. The Utilties and REIT space are the worst sectors in terms of minimizing share count. I don't own any MLPs but MLPs also operate similarly. Realty Income (O) has increased the number of shares drastically from 126M in 2011 to 256M in 2016. This is basically a doubling of the number of shares in just 5 years. REITs need to make public offerings to acquire cash for purchasing additional properties. REITs pay the large majority of their earnings back to the share holders, which means they cannot keep a lot of the money they earn. Diluting the share base is the way they can fund their expansion. If the expansion purchases add more to the bottom line compared to the dilution of shares, then the overall company performance will continue increasing. This can be seen in well managed REITs like FRT and O. However, the dilution of shares still concerns me which is why I do not have a super large position in REITs.

Although share buybacks are important. It is not the panacea for increasing company earnings per share. I would rather see executives invest in the company organically instead of financially engineering the company's earning statistics. Buying back stock can only work so much but one must innovate and keep up with the competition by having good products and services. That requires investment back into the company and buying back shares is only a way to "cheat" in the short term. Additionally, companies oftentimes buy shares back at market highs since that is when the company is doing their best and spare cash is abundant. That money might have been better used in dividends or company reinvestment or acquisitions.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A look back at 4 years of dividend growth

I took some time to open up the charts from my previous years. I tabulated the dividend increases for each of my position every year. I write down how many percent they increase their dividend per share compared to the amount they paid previously. My portfolio's goal is to average around 2.5-3.0% in dividend yield and average 7.0-8.0% in dividend growth. With the dividends reinvested this is around 10-11% income growth in my portfolio per year which will allow me to meet my income goals.

I hold a variety of companies that all pay dividends in my portfolio. Some are slow growers like utilities or AT&T which pay a high yield but have slower dividend growth. Some are fast growers like ROST or Visa so their yields are lower but the dividend growth is much higher. I look at my portfolio's average dividend performance based on each position's dollar weighting and how much the raise was for that year.

To summarize these are the results I saw in 2014, 2015, 2016, and so far 2017. I saw a decrease in total income growth as the years went on because I saw many headwinds from the strong dollar. I also transitioned my portfolio over the years to emphasize more non-cyclical businesses that are higher quality (better credit rating and more conservative management). These type of companies grow slower and have a lower yield than riskier cyclical businesses that I used to hold when I started out. I hate to admit but when I started out I was victim of chasing yield and I got burned on each of those greedy positions.
Year Dividend Growth Dividend Yield Total Income Growth
2014 10.30% 2.81% 13.11%
2015 9.68% 2.94% 12.62%
2016 10.11% 2.76% 12.87%
2017 8.28% 2.70% 10.98%

I show more of the breakdown for each year below:

2014: My first year
In 2014 I had my first attempt at dividend growth investing. I held more cyclical companies than I do now and my preference over the years has been to shift away from technology, oil (energy), and industrial names and more into conservative non cyclical businesses. I also held a lot of Vanguard index funds in my 401k since that time I did not take the effort to open a brokerage account for my 401k. All my companies raised their dividend that year except the Vanguard bond fund which had a dip in income received.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

August 2017 Portfolio Summary

This is the August portfolio summary report. I will be using data up to the September 11, 2017 period. I will first summarize what happened in the market in the last month. The dollar continues to weaken. This is great for my portfolio as most of my portfolio has companies that deal internationally. A weaker dollar means more US dollars recovered when they convert their foreign earnings to US dollars. A weaker dollar allows our US products to compete more competitively in price on foreign lands. 

The S&P500 has retreated in August. August, September, and October are usually more volatile months and corrections are common in the last few years. I always took advantage of the declines but it seems our market now has largely recovered. The S&P500 is hitting all time highs again but my portfolio has not since many of the gainer industries are not in my portfolio (I tend to hold very low volatility stocks so my portfolio does not usually follow so extremely with the S&P500). In the news, there were a lot of concern over the North Korea nuclear testing situation, Trump's inability to get any movement on tax reform or repatriation, the destruction of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, and the US debt ceiling. 

I used to monitor oil very closely in the past. My portfolio does not contain any companies that directly deal with oil. But I still track the oil market since this commodity is so crucial to our economy. Oil has stayed relatively flat. It is still very cheap, sub $50. This new environment of very cheap oil is likely to stay for a very long time. It is going to be very hard for any oil company in this environment. I tend to stick out of the oil business in general as countries aim to phase out gas powered cars for alternatives, and the world becomes less reliant on oil. I cannot see oil being a dominant source of energy in 70+ years. I cannot see all of our oil pipelines being usable in the future as oil reserves get all mined out, eventually they'll all be retired. I invest for the decades and the future. If a company's core product is no longer going to be here then I will not invest in it. I can see toilet paper and toothpaste and laundry detergent being here in 100 years time, but oil not so much.




Friday, September 8, 2017

Crossed the 5-figures in Annual Dividends Mark

As of today my portfolio's annual dividend has crossed 5 figures. On an annual basis, my portfolio is expected to generate $10,028 in dividends per year. This is before taxes of course, and barring any disasters that causes one of the companies I own shares in to go bankrupt.

Today I purchased the following companies. This allowed me to cross the 5 figure mark in dividends:

Medtronics - MDT - $657
Nextera Energy - NEE - $588
Philip Morris - PM - $934
Illinois Tool Works - ITW - $841

In total I invested around $3000 today.

Friday, September 1, 2017

August 2017 Dividends Received

Like clockwork, I received payments in the month of August from several of the businesses that I have shares in. The table below shows where the money was earned:

Ticker      Total    Taxable         401k
T $113.19 $113.19
GIS $88.66 $57.33 $31.33
PG $69.65 $59.31 $10.34
O $53.07 $53.07
SBUX $46.18 $37.90 $8.28
CLX $36.12 $36.12
APD $33.25 $33.25
HRL $27.71 $27.71
CL $24.00 $24.00
MA $16.78 $6.38 $10.40
ABT $15.90 $15.90
BCR $1.62 $1.62
Interest $0.36 $0.00 $0.36
$526.49 $412.71 $113.78

The high payer was AT&T followed by General Mills and Procter & Gamble.
August is a weak month, along with the months of 2, 5, and 11 in the year since not many of the companies I hold pay in those months.

For September I am expecting around $880 to be cashed into my brokerage account.
And for October I am expecting $1020.

If I take the quarterly moving average since month to month can be volatile, the trend is a nice upward increase in my monthly dividends. This is largely due to the contributions I put into my portfolio every month and the results are showing. I expect that my portfolio is able to grow the dividend by around 10% year over year by itself. This growth is from around 2-3% in dividend yield reinvested from my various portfolio positions (on average) plus the 7-8% of natural dividend growth from each of the holdings (on average) I have in my portfolio.


September and October tend to be very bad months for the year. I can already see my portfolio falling slightly despite my biweekly cash contributions trying to prop the portfolio up from market weakness. I am stocking up on cash for the coming weeks. I will post buy activities when they happen.

-YD