Dogs of the Dow Revisited

The “Dogs of the Dow” are the ten highest yielding stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.  The reason they were referred to as “Dogs” is because stocks with unusually high dividend yields are often stocks whose prices have dropped, sometimes dramatically, because of bad news.

American companies, unlike their European counterparts, try to keep their dividends steady or increase them over time.  If they run into problems, including earnings declines, reducing the quarterly dividend is usually the last step.

To give an example, if a company whose stock which is priced at $100 per share pays a $2.50 dividend it is said to have a 2.5% yield.   If the company runs into problems and its share price drops to $50, the dividend yield is now 5.0%.  Thus it becomes a “Dog.”

Most companies run into problems from time to time: sales slow down and investors sell to invest in the next new thing.  That’s what happened to McDonalds a few years ago.  When oil prices dropped sharply so did the price of oil company stocks.  When natural resources prices dropped because of reduced demand so did the price of companies like Caterpillar which makes mining equipment.  Technology goes in and out of favor for various reasons and so does the price of tech stocks.

But most companies learn how to cope with adversity and make the appropriate changes to make a comeback.  That’s what often happens and it provides a way for investors to buy companies when they are cheap and make a profit.

The Dogs of the  Dow are a method of creating a portfolio of high yielding but out-of-favor stocks in the expectation that most will recover and provide a nice profit.

 So how have the “Dogs” done over the past 5 years?  We have tracked the performance of the “Dogs” using the share prices and yields of the 10 highest yielding DJIA stocks as of the last trading day of the previous year.  Here are the results:

  • 2011          16.4%
  • 2012          10.1%
  • 2013          19.1%
  • 2014         10.6%
  • 2015           2.9%

These returns are “total returns” and include dividends but do not include fees or expenses.  It should also be noted to these returns are different if the starting point was not the value as of the end of the prior year and the ending point was different.  It should also be noted that a 10 stock portfolio is not properly diversified and I have simplified the process of buying, trading and balancing the “Dogs.”

As a final note, this strategy was popular in the 1990s and as it became more popular it became less effective.  In addition, as technology stocks gained popularity in the late 1990s, the “Dogs of the Dow” lost money as investors moved massively away from old-line DJIA stocks and into the tech sector.  As they say in the prospectuses, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

For more information, contact us.

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