This year is starting to feel like 2008 all over again. Volatility has returned as Europe's debt woes are starting to have real effects on the market. Investors fled risk, looking for safety in the dollar and U.S. Treasuries; however, yields on fixed income investments such as bonds, CDs and cash are excruciatingly low, while the Fed continues to keep rates down in order to stimulate the economy. This flight to quality and the resulting plunge in the equities markets has created opportunities for investors with long-term focus.
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Dividends, Dividends, Dividends
Whether you love him or hate him, Jim Cramer certainly knows his way around the stock market and recently he has been giving some of the best investment advice for long-term portfolios: find solace in dividends. While the news may come a shock to his fast-trading lighting round viewers, since the 1960s dividends have accounted for more than 65% of the total return of the iShares S&P 500 (NYSE:IVV) in sideways markets similar to the one we are currently in. Dividends help cushion downward movements in stocks and help boost upside in the markets rallies.
Cramer has been recommending "Accidental High-Yielders". These are good quality companies whose dividend yields would not be that impressive if it weren't for the fact that their share prices have been pushed down with the rest of the market. Their newly-minted high yields can help buoy their stock prices while providing increased returns for investors.
Adding the High-Yielders
There are plenty of dividend-focused exchange-traded funds (ETFs), such as the SPDR S&P Dividend (NYSE:SDY), and these could represent a good catch-all investment in the dividend space. However, looking under the hood of one of these ETFs investors can find better examples of accidental yielders. Here are a few picks that Cramer could be proud of.
Combining one part boring utility and one part exciting cleantech growth stock, trash hauler and green-energy superstar Waste Management (NYSE:WM) fits the bill as a great dividend play. With the market taking the wind out of its sails, shares of the company now yield nearly 4%. The company recently reported a gain of 17% in its first quarter of 2010, referencing volume and commodity price improvement. Revenue grew 4% to $2.94 billion.
Less than 40% of chemical giant DuPont's (NYSE:DD) revenue comes from the United States. Investors flocking towards the greenback for safety has sent shares of the company downwards, boosting DuPont's yield to nearly 4.6%. A victim of the global credit crisis in 2008, business has rallied in the past two quarters, with profit growing 130% to $1.24 per share, topping analyst estimates.
The European debt crisis and proposed Australian super tax are adding to the fears of a global slowdown and in turn are taking down commodities prices. Shares of hard asset producers have fallen and several are now trading at decent yields. Mini-mill steel producer, Nucor (NYSE:NUE) is trading at a 3.4% dividend yield and represents one of the lowest cost-to-production producers. Nucor currently trades at a cheap 11 forward P/E.
With market volatility returning to the everyday forefront, investors have an opportunity to pick up some high-quality companies with newly-supersized dividend yields. These dividends can help cushion the market's wild swings over the next few months. The previously mentioned stocks as well as dividend ETFs like the WisdomTree Large Cap Dividend (NYSE:DLN) will make perfect additions in this market. (Looking to add dividend paying stocks to your portfolio? Read Long-Term Utility Dividends.)
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