These Dow Dividend Stocks Are Bucking The April Pullback

By Robert Hauver

It’s been a rainy April for the market thus far, with the S&P down almost -3.00% through 4/19/12. Being  optimistic, we went searching for dividend paying stocks that are bucking the new market pullback.  We found 2 contenders, Caterpillar, (CAT), and Home Depot, (HD), that have held their own in this month’s market decline, and have also done well in recent rallies:

CAT-HD-PERF

HD beat CAT in the Nov. 2011 pullback, and has also had stronger share performance year to date and during this month’s decline.

Valuations & Earnings Growth: CAT derives a lot of its profits from overseas, vs. Home Depot’s mostly domestic focus on the US home market. Subsequently, CAT has had stronger earnings growth in its most recent quarter and fiscal year, as the hobbled US consumer slowly picks up spending, and the home market remains weak. Although it’s up over 18% this year, CAT still looks more undervalued on a PEG basis than HD.

CAT-HD-PEG

We’ll find out if CAT’s current EPS projections hold, when it reports earnings, on its upcoming April 25th morning conference call next week. (Judging by how far off analysts have been in their CAT estimates in recent quarters, it should be an interesting report.)

CAT-ANLYSTMISSES

Dividends: Although CAT and HD aren’t high dividend stocks, both firms have a 5-year dividend growth rate that’s above their industry avgs.: CAT’s is 9.62%, and HD’s is 9.03%. CAT’s dividend payout ratio is more conservative than its industry avgs., while HD’s is much higher than its industry’s low avg. of 26.4%:

CAT-HD-DIVS

Covered Calls: Combining covered call options with dividend stocks is a powerful way to create much more immediate income than many stocks’ dividends offer over 1 – 3 quarters.  The increase in income is particularly high in a stock like CAT, which has high options yields that dwarf its dividend yield.  The tradeoff is that you may forgo potential future price gains, in return for being paid a call option premium now.  CAT has a higher beta and more volatility than HD, which gives it higher options yields.

In this trade, CAT’s August $110.00 call options pay well over 12 times its $.46 quarterly dividend.

CAT-HD-CALLS

If CAT is above $110.00 at or near expiration in August, your shares will be sold/assigned for $110.00, no matter how much higher CAT rises.  You’ll receive an additional $2.64/share in price gain, for an additional assigned yield of 7.54% annualized, and the total potential assigned yield is 25.86%. ($110.00 strike price – $107.36 stock cost = $2.64/share.)

How does this compare to just buying CAT outright at $107.36? Since you received a call premium of $5.95, at a strike price of $110.00, your maximum price point potential is $115.95.  If CAT doesn’t go as high as $115.95 during this 4-month term, you’d be ahead by selling this covered call.

(Each option contract corresponds to 100 shares of the underlying stock.)

The 3 income streams in this covered call trade are, (for 1oo shares of stock bought and 1 call option sold):

1. Call premium of $5.95/share, (paid within 3 days of the trade): $595.00

2. Quarterly dividend of $.46/share, (paid in August, ex-dividend date in July): $46.00

3. Potential assigned price gain of $2.64/share, if CAT is above $110.00 at or near expiration: $264.00

(You can see more details for over 30 other high options yields trades in our Covered Calls Table.)

Technical Data: CAT and HD have been two of the best stocks to buy for price gains over the past year:

CAT-HD-TECH

As the table above shows, both of these stocks are quite close to their 52-week highs, which leads us to another, more conservative options strategy – selling puts.

Cash Secured Puts: By selling cash secured puts below a stock’s current price, you’ll achieve a lower break-even price, and also get paid within 3 days of making the put sale. However, you won’t qualify for any dividends, but, as you can see, the put options listed below pay out over 6 to 14 times what these quarterly dividends pay.

For every put option that you sell, your broker will secure enough cash in your account to purchase 100 shares of the underlyng stock, at whatever the put option’s strike price is, hence the name “cash secured puts”. In the CAT put option trade below, the broker would hold $10,500.00, (100 times the $105.00 strike price).

There are more details on these and over 30 other high yield Cash Secured Puts trades in our Cash Secured Puts Table.)

CAT-HD-PUTS

Financials: Both firms’ metrics are far above their industry avgs, except for CAT’s higher debt load. However, CAT has an interest coverage ratio of 6.4.

CAT-HD-ROE

Disclosure: Author is short Caterpillar put options.

Disclaimer: This article is written for informational purposes only and isn’t intended as investment advice.

Author: Robert Hauver © 2012 Demar Marketing All Rights Reserved

The Best Defensive Dow Dividend Stocks To Buy

By Robert Hauver

In spite of over 75% of S&P 500 firms beating or meeting earnings expectations, the Eurozone debt crisis, a slow US economic recovery & the continuing DC stalemate on economic issues, plus slower growth in China are combining to scare investors into a “risk off” position in November. The market has pulled back -9.59% this month, nearly as much as the Sept. selloff, as each of the last 5 months have alternated between rallies and pullbacks.

If you’re an income investor looking for which Dow dividend stocks have been the best stocks to buy in recent months for income and defense, these 3 dividend stocks have all sold off less during these 2011 pullbacks, and have also participated nicely in the rallies. (The only exception is HD’s pullback during the July rally.) They’ve also declined even less in this most recent pullback, (Oct. 28 through Nov. 23, 2011), than in the previous Sept. pullback.

HD-KFT-MCD-PERF

Valuations: HD appears to be the most undervalued stock, on a recent and future EPS growth basis. This seems logical, as HD suffered mightily during the downturn, and homeowners still have to fix their homes eventually. HD’s Price/book is higher that the Home Improvement industry avg. of 2.24, but HD’s very low .83 Price/Sales ratio is in line with industry avgs.

HD-KFT-MCD-PEG

High Options Yields can lower your risk and pump up your dividend yields: Although they’re defensive stocks, MCD and HD have options yields which can help you to turn them into virtual, short-term high dividend stocks.

Covered Calls: If you want to buy these defensive dividend stocks, but gain some downside protection, in the form of a quick “rebate”, selling covered call options is one way to go. In these 2 call option selling trades, you’ll get paid over 6 times the dividend amount now, when you sell call options against the underlying shares.

Selling covered calls allows you to realize some of the stock’s upside potential immediately, and turn a 3% annualized dividend yield into a 15% – to – 23%-plus overall yield. The rub is that you’re committing to sell the stock at the option strike price, even if the stock rises far beyond that price by the Feb. or March expiration date. But if you think the stock and the market will  stagnate or swing back and forth during that time period, selling covered calls is a proven way of hedging your bet.

(These call options expire in March for MCD, and expire in Feb. for HD.)

(You can see more details on this and over 30 other high yield covered call trades in our Covered Calls Table.)

HD-MCD-CALLS

Cash Secured Puts: If the recent monthly market reverses have your head spinning , and you want to be more conservative, another strategy is to sell cash secured puts at a strike price below a stock’s current price. This usually offers you an even lower break-even price, which lowers your risk even more, and improves your cash flow, since you’ll get paid put option premiums within 3 days of the trade, (often the same day), instead of waiting for quarterly dividends. (Unlike covered call sellers, put sellers don’t collect dividends.)

Your broker will hold in reserve an amount equal to the value of the strike price times 100, for every put contract that you sell, until the contract expires, or the position is closed out. Each options contract corresponds to 100 shares of the underlying stock.

These put options pay approx. 7 to 8 times more than the stocks’ dividends during this 3-4 month period.

The put options below also expire in March for MCD, and expire in Feb. for HD.

(You can find more details on this and over 30 other high yield options trades in our Cash Secured Puts Table.)

HD-MCD-PUTS

Financials: KFT’s Mgt. efficiency ratios are the weakest in the group, and are also below their peer group avgs, while MCD and HD both have above/avg. ROE and ROI for their peer industries.

HD-KFT-MCD-ROE

Technical Data: As usual with defensive stocks, these equities all have low beta’s. MCD and HD are still over 30% above their 52-week lows, but selling the put options listed above would give you a break-even that’s only 19% above MCD’s low, and 21% above HD’s low:

HD-KFT-MCD-BETA

Disclosure: No positions at this time.

Disclaimer: This article is written for informational purposes only and isn’t intended as investment advice.

Author: Robert Hauver © 2011 Demar Marketing All Rights Reserved

Dow Dividend Stocks – Top 7 Cash Secured Put Options

By Robert Hauver

Dow dividend stocks aren’t usually mentioned in the world of high dividend stocks, but selling cash secured put options is a way you can earn some impressive double-digit annualized yields out of even these modest dividend paying stocks.

We screened for the top 7 put selling yields for DOW dividend stocks and came up with these 7 option trades:

DowPuts9-7-10

(All of the above put bid yields are based upon 100% cash reserve)

As you can see, these put yields far outstrip the dividend yields, and in a shorter 5-6 month time period.  Hence, the annualized yields are pretty impressive.

We’ve added some of these put options this week to our Cash Secured Puts Table, which will show more detail.

Why sell cash secured puts, instead of just buying the stock outright?

  1. More Risk Protection – By earning the higher put option $, you’re lowering your break-even cost, and giving yourself greater downside protection.
  2. Better Cash Flow –  You get paid the put premium within 3 days of selling puts, as opposed to waiting each quarter for a dividend payout.
  3. Higher Yields – This happens 2 ways: In the above trades, the put yields are 2 to 9 times that of the dividend yields.  Also, with your lower breakeven cost, if the shares do get assigned/put to you, the ultimate dividend yield on the underlying shares will be higher, due to its lower cost.
  4. Potential Tax Deferral –  The IRS rules state that,”If a put you write is exercised and you buy the underlying stock, decrease your basis in the stock by the amount you received for the put. Your holding period for the stock begins on the date you buy it, not on the date you wrote the put.” (Source:www.IRS.gov/publications)         This means that you don’t have to pay taxes on the put $ you received until you sell the assigned underlying shares. If you hold the underlying assigned shares for more than 1 year, you’ve also converted a short-term gain into a long-term gain.
  5. Knowing your “trade range” before trading–  This strategy tells you your maximum gain and break-even cost, before you invest, as opposed to buying, and hoping for price appreciation.

Cons

  1. Options gains are always taxed at short-term capital gains rates, which will be higher than qualified dividend tax rates.
  2. Put options sellers are required to have 100% “cash reserve” by their brokers, i.e., your broker will set aside 100% of the value of the underlying shares against which you sell puts. 100% cash reserve is always required in an IRA account, but, investors with thorough options experience may qualify for Options Level 3 trading status, which lets the broker reduce the cash reserve to a lower 25-35% approx. range, thereby employing leverage.  A note of caution here: if you do employ this type of leverage, it’s very important to keep track of your potential exposure, and not get in over your head.
  3. Cash secured put selling is a strategy that requires a bit more of a hands on approach, as opposed to the “buy and hold” strategy. However, this strategy shouldn’t be confused with day trading – Put sellers make their sale, collect the put $, and monitor the put’s value during the investment term, as opposed to jumping in and out of a trade every day.
  4. Less rally participation – The maximum gain on selling cash secured puts is the amount of $ you receive when making the put sale, so, this profit could potentially be less than the eventual price appreciation of a stock.

Is it worth it?

Some investors would argue that, if you do nothing, and the stock’s price declines, you could also own the stock a lower cost.  That could be happen, but looking at the possible outcomes in the market, selling cash secured put options offers a greater chance for income:

PutSellingOutcomes

Another issue to consider here is time value of money, and what you’ll earn on your money, while you wait for a stock to hit your price.

In addition, due to the timing factor in options, time favors an option seller over an option buyer, since the buyer must guess the stock’s ultimate price direction and price level, and must be correct before the option expires.  That’s often a very tall order, and it’s one of the reasons that 3 out of 4 options expire worthless – which is a distinct advantage for an option seller – time is on your side.

Disclosure: Author is short INTC puts.

Disclaimer: This article isn’t intended as investing or accounting advice.

7 Dow Dividend Stocks With 10%-Plus Put Option Yields

By Robert Hauver

If this week’s downturn is making you jumpy, maybe you ought to think about taking advantage of the pullback, by selling cash secured put options on some Dow dividend paying stocks. Although these stocks wouldn’t be considered high dividend stocks, they do currently have very attractive put option yields, ranging from just below 10% to over 12% for a 5-6 month trade.

The pullback has increased the volatility and the bid prices on these put options, which benefits option sellers, AND achieves a lower break-even price.  In fact, the put option bid yield far outstrips the dividend yield on all of these 7 Dow stocks:

COMPANY SYMBOL 8/12/10 STOCK PRICE PUT OPTION BID PUT YIELD ANNUALIZED PUT YIELD DIVIDEND YIELD EXPIRATION MONTH PUT STRIKE PRICE BREAK-EVEN PRICE
CATER-PILLAR CAT $67.59 $6.95 11.48% 25.87% 2.60% 11-Jan $67.50 $60.55
JP Morgan Chase JPM $37.84 $3.65 10.78% 24.29% 0.60% 11-Jan $37.50 $33.85
AMERICAN EXPRESS AXP $42.44 $4.00 10.53% 23.73% 1.70% 11-Jan $42.00 $38.00
BANK OF AMERICA BAC $13.16 $1.42 12.26% 23.55% 0.30% 11-Feb $13.00 $11.58
BOEING CO BA $64.95 $5.90 10.42% 20.02% 2.60% 11-Feb $62.50 $56.60
Hewlett Packard HPQ $40.25 $3.65 10.04% 19.29% 0.80% 11-Feb $40.00 $36.35
Home Depot Inc HD $27.60 $2.39 9.71% 18.65% 3.50% 11-Feb $27.00 $24.61

Although its put yield is just below 10%, Home Depot is on this list due to its 3.5% dividend yield, the highest in this group. We’ve also added Home Depot to our Cash Secured Put Table this week, as it has an attractive 18%-plus put yield. However, as you can see from the table above, most of these Dow 30 dividend stocks don’t have very attractive dividend yields, which is another reason for income investors to consider selling cash secured puts on them instead.

The benefits of this strategy are 4-fold:

  1. Immediate income – You receive the cash from put sales in your account within 3 days after the trade.
  2. Much higher yields – This varies, of course, but in times of increased volatility, put yields often outpace dividend yields.
  3. Lower breakeven – All of the above puts are “out of the money”, (put option strike price is below the stock price), which gives you a lower breakeven price, and more protection against a falling  share price than owning the stock outright would.
  4. Tax deferral – You don’t have to pay taxes on sold put options until they expire, or you close your position. Thus, if you hold any of the above puts until their Jan/Feb. 2011 expiration, you aren’t liable for taxes until the April 15, 2012 deadline for paying taxes on 2011 gains.  In fact, if you’re assigned the underlying stock, you don’t have to pay taxes on the put money that you received until you sell the underlying assigned stock, since the IRS states that your tax basis for the assigned stock is lowered by the money you received for selling the put options.  Quite a nice break for investors.

Caveats:

  1. Short term tax rate – Option profits are taxed at short term rates, even if they’re held for more than 12 months, as opposed to the qualified dividend tax rate, which is now 15%, but may rise in 2011.
  2. Selling vs. Buying options – Option sellers usually have to put up much more cash than option buyers, particularly when selling cash secured puts.  Brokerages generally will require a “cash reserve”, equal to 100% of the cost of the underlying shares.  If you have a 100% cash reserve requirement, your initial cash outlay for selling cash secured put options is similar to buying stocks, with one big difference: your cash outlay will be reduced by the premium $ you sell the options for, within 3 days. (Also, if you qualify for option level 3, your broker may reduce this reserve requirement to 25 -35%).

Disclosure: Author is short BAC puts.

Disclaimer: This article is written for informational purposes only.