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.
- 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!
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.
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|
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:
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…..
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…
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.
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).