A dividend is the payment that a company distributes to its shareholders as a percent of earnings. Management can decide whether to pay a dividend, how much it is, and the frequency of payments. Dividends are often distributed quarterly and are quoted as the amount of dividend per share. Companies that are growing fast tend not to issue a dividend, as they pour money back into the business.
Getting a sense of where stocks are going to go in the year ahead is always difficult with the major indices at their all-time highs.
The fundamental backdrop is still very favorable for equities. While the Federal Reserve has put off raising interest rates for the near future, the cost of capital, especially for corporations, remains extremely low. And corporate balance sheets remain in excellent condition with strong cash positions and good prospects for rising dividends going forward.
The stock market recovered extremely well from the financial crisis and subsequent crash in 2008/2009. But it wasn’t until early 2013 that I saw the beginning of a new cycle for stocks, or a bull market as it were.
Until then, I viewed the market’s performance purely as a recovery period from the previous cycle, which was the technology bubble.
Many of the technology stocks have only now recovered to their previous highs set in 1999 and 2000. The recovery cycle took a long time to play out and the catalyst for its breakout was, not surprisingly, the Federal Reserve.
Stocks can move significantly higher in a rising interest rate environment, but only from a low base, which is what we have now. And within the context of a new market cycle or bull market, the economy can experience a full-blown recession and stocks can experience meaningful corrections.
The two most important catalysts for the equity market near-term are what corporations actually report about their businesses and the Federal Reserve’s actions.
The surprising weakness in oil prices should be evident in corporate financial results (especially in the fourth quarter). Old economy industries … Read More
Tomorrow, Oracle Corporation (ORCL) reports its numbers for its first fiscal quarter of 2015. What the company has to say about its business conditions is material to the equity market.
Oracle is a benchmark technology stock that’s not expensively priced. The company offers dividends; its current yield is approximately 1.2%, which may not be enough for some investors looking for a large-cap, mature technology stock.
Oracle’s share price tends to experience waves of buying enthusiasm. If the company just slightly beats consensus, there will be solid buying in the stock.
But being a mature business, this company isn’t a fast grower. What it offers investors is a benchmark in enterprise information technology (IT) demand. A quick read of the company’s SEC form 10-Q can be very informative regarding enterprise customers and their spending.
Oracle’s share price has been steadily climbing back and it’s almost at its all-time record-high set during the technology bubble of 2000. It’s been a great comeback from the irrational exuberance of those days. The company’s long-term chart is featured below:
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
Dollar for dollar, however, I still prefer Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) for those investors looking for a blue chip technology stock.
The company pays more in dividends, its valuation is about the same as Oracle’s, and it has a multifaceted business strategy that includes both consumer and enterprise customers.
Furthermore, I think Microsoft is more likely to deliver better capital gains over Oracle in the near- to medium-term.
This doesn’t mean that Oracle can’t accelerate its business growth going forward. All the company has to do is get the next business cycle in … Read More
Large-cap technology stocks, particularly old-school names, have really been on the rise, though they remain an untold story this year.
Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) is on a major upward price trend and is getting close to its all-time record-high set during the technology bubble of 1999.
The company’s stock market performance has been tremendous as of late, rising from around $27.00 a share at the beginning of 2013 to its current level of approximately $47.00, its 52-week high. Its share price has increased by more than $10.00 this year alone. (See “Eight Stocks to Beat the Street.”) And that’s with a current dividend yield of 2.6% and a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of just less than 15.
I think Microsoft is going to keep on ticking higher right into 2015 based on its sales and earnings growth momentum combined with a solid interest on the part of institutional investors seeking earnings predictability in a slow-growth environment.
Microsoft would be a solid investment-grade pick in this market for those investors considering new positions and looking for income.
Even without the company’s dividends, it should experience solid sales and earnings growth going into its next fiscal year. And in an environment where institutional investors are bidding old-school names that are offering earnings reliability, $50.00 a share shouldn’t be too difficult for Microsoft to achieve by year-end.
Share price momentum in previous technology growth stocks like Microsoft and Intel is indicative of a bull market, but one that’s still risk-averse.
Price momentum in these stocks is healthy for the broader market because large-cap tech companies like Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) and Facebook, Inc. (FB) … Read More
There’s good resilience to this market. On most days, the NASDAQ Composite is still beating both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average comparatively, which is bullish. Lots of stocks are pushing new highs and many seem to be breaking out of their previous near-term trends.
NIKE, Inc. (NKE) is a large-cap, dividend-paying company that I view as attractive for long-term investors.
The stock has been in consolidation, trading range-bound since the beginning of the year but is finally breaking out and pushing through the $80.00-per-share level.
This position went up tremendously last year and has been due for a break. The company has experienced solid revenue and earnings growth over the last several quarters.
The stock’s reacceleration looks meaningful, and I suspect the position is in for a new uptrend.
The other company that I feel is a good example of the kind of stock that could make for a great holding in any long-term equity market portfolio is The Walt Disney Company (DIS). (See “Why This Is Still My Favorite Entertainment Stock.”)
I’m not surprised this position is still ticking higher. But it has been moving up very consistently since October of 2011.
The stock just broke the $90.00-per-share level. This time two years ago, the company was trading for $30.00 a share, which is incredible capital appreciation for such a mature large-cap enterprise.
Institutional investors are still buying earnings reliability, and I think this trend will hold right through 2015.
Both NIKE and Disney offer earnings reliability and the fact of the matter is that it’s difficult for any company to generate double-digit growth…. Read More
So long as transportation stocks are ticking higher, the stock market is much less susceptible to a price retrenchment.
The Dow Jones Transportation Average just blew past 8,500, recently hitting a new record-high after taking a well-deserved break around mid-July and August.
Airline stocks led the index’s recent price strength. Some examples: JetBlue Airways Corporation (JBLU) was $8.00 a share in May, now it’s pushing $13.00. Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) was $20.00 a share at the beginning of the year, recently hitting a price of more than $33.00 for a new all-time record-high.
But it isn’t just airline stocks that are doing well on the Dow Jones Transportation Average; railroad stocks and trucking companies are pushing through to new highs, too, and earnings estimates for a lot of these companies are increasing, especially for 2015.
It may seem like an old-school concept, but strength in transportation stocks is still a leading indicator for the broader market. Price strength in these stocks often shows up at the beginning of a new business cycle.
Union Pacific Corporation (UNP) is one of my favorite railroad stocks for investors and it’s a great benchmark for determining your investment strategy, even for those not interested in the company. Monitoring this stock is a great way to gain market and economic intelligence.
This position still has good potential for further capital gains and earnings forecasts have been going up across the board—including estimates for the company’s third and fourth quarters, all of 2014, and all of 2015.
The stock’s been in a well-deserved price consolidation since May, but it recently broke out of this trend … Read More
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