by Jeff Reeves | August 13, 2012 8:33 am
Investors love cheap stocks that they can buy in big chunks for under $10 a share. Yes, you make the same amount of money if you have 10 shares of a $600 stock or 6,000 shares of a $1 stock and both go up 25% — either way, you book $1,500 in gains. But sometimes, the allure of large share allocations is too much for some traders.
Similarly, investors love high-yield stocks. Sometimes these picks have volatile paydays or are risky stocks that only trade a few hundred thousand shares a day. But who can pass up a double-digit yield when 10-year Treasuries yield just 1.6%?
Anyone who has been around Wall Street knows the demand for this kind of commentary. So I figured that in the slow days of August, it might be interesting to marry the two ideas.
Are there any cheap stocks out there paying big (and more importantly, reliable) dividends?
Turns out there are. And while each of these picks is a bit on the more aggressive side, I think this list of five cheap stocks with huge dividends includes some pretty interesting investment opportunities.
If you’re a fan of low-priced stocks or high-dividend stocks, check out this lineup of investments:
Market Cap: $1.2 billion
YTD Share Performance: -22%
Eagle Rock Energy Partners (NASDAQ:EROC) is one of the many energy partnerships out there. This is a natural gas play, as Eagle focuses on processing and transporting natural gas and natural gas liquids. But it’s not exposed to commodity price volatility. As a pipeline operator, think of EROC simply as a toll-taker as the gas moves through its infrastructure. It makes money on volume it moves, not on the price of gas.
This provides stability for Eagle Rock Energy Partners. Also, its MLP status means it avoids the double taxation typical of conventional dividend payers. Corporations pay taxes on income, then shareholders also pay taxes on dividends. Your payment for each “unit” held in an MLP (they technically are not shares or dividends, though often called such) avoids the front-end corporate tax altogether, preserving more cash that will flow into your pocket.
Eagle Rock still posts an occasional quarterly loss, and shares admittedly are suffering in 2012 as the recovery slowed in spring and energy demand waned. Still, EROC is staying aggressive, agreeing early last week to buy processing plants and pipelines in the Texas Panhandle from BP (NYSE:BP).
Plus, profits are humming along nicely on an annual basis, and so are the dividends. Eagle Rock’s recent distributions tally 22 cents in August 2012, 22 cents in May 2012, 21 cents in February 2012 and 20 cents in November 2011. It adds up to a 9.4% yield based on these past four paydays, so even a slight decline in distributions will serve you well.
Market Cap: $760 million
YTD share performance: +16%
Current Yield: 4.4%
Belo Corp. (NYSE:BLC) is one of the few remaining TV broadcasters out there, a pure-television station operator that owns 20 television stations across various different networks including ABC, NBC, FOX and the CW. So rather than being tied to a single network’s programming, an investment in Belo is a play on broadcast television in general.
While there certainly is a threat from the rise of streaming video and other high-tech options, the bottom line is that TV is going to stick around for the near future. And as radio has proven, there’s something to be said for terrestrial broadcast outlets with a local flavor even if there is easy access to worldwide media via an Internet connection.
Revenues are very stable, and in an election year there could be a nice uptick in ad sales thanks to a glut of campaign spending by both parties. If you’re looking to just hide out in a low-risk stock and get a nice dividend, Belo is a cheap option for investors that is relatively stable.
The fact the payout was just hiked from 5 cents quarterly to 8 cents quarterly is a good sign. And the fact that the dividend payout ratio remains a paltry 18% of earnings is an even better sign going forward that the dividends are sustainable and could even increase down the road. Throw in a forward P/E ratio of about 9.5, and this is a decent-looking play.
Market Cap: $860 million
YTD Performance: +4%
OK, Franklin Street Properties Corp. (AMEX:FSP) squeaked over the $10 hurdle recently after a decline at the beginning of August. But even though it’s barely in double digits, it’s still worth calling out for this feature.
FSP is a real estate investment trust, or REIT, like others on this list. As such, it must deliver 90% of its taxable income back to shareholders — to you and me, that means big dividends. Franklin Street owns and leases office properties mostly in the metropolitan D.C. area. And anyone familiar with Uncle Sam’s free-spending ways knows that commercial real estate in and around the nation’s capital is always in high demand among consultants, contractors, lobbyists and other businesses.
The company has seen year-over-year revenue increases in five of the past six quarters despite ending an investment banking arm in 2011, though profits admittedly have been thinner. Still, the 19-cent quarterly dividend is reliable, having been paid every quarter dating back to a dividend cut during the worst of the downturn in 2008.
Volume is pretty low, around 225,000 shares daily, so use a limit order if you trade. Also note that FSP is clearly a recovery play, considering its flop of about 50% from pre-crisis levels and more than 30% in the past 18 months. If commercial real estate doesn’t firm up, neither will Franklin Street shares. However, I remain convinced that encouraging (but admittedly mixed) economic news will provide a floor in this sector and ensure that at worst FSP moves sideways — delivering a dividend of over 7% while you wait.
Market Cap: $165 million
YTD Performance: +28%
The Female Health Company (NASDAQ:FHCO) is a very small stock that averages less than 50,000 shares daily. But the strangeness of this stock makes it too enticing to leave out. FHCO actually is in the business of reducing risk for women through consumer health products that include the FC2 female condom. This isn’t some startup banking on a fad idea, though — Female Health is soundly profitable and has partnerships with institutions like public health clinics and not-for-profits. Who knew?
Whatever you think about the product, the stock has paid a 5-cent dividend like clockwork since 2010 and recently upped the ante to 6 cents a quarter in May. Sustained sales and profits since the company went public in 2009 show that while it hasn’t created a breakout product, FHCO can at least deliver consistent enough income to deliver a steady dividend.
That dividend is surely at risk if growth doesn’t continue, since Female Health is pushing a 100% dividend payout ratio. But investors who bought in a year ago have seen nice distributions as well as 35% share appreciation.
Market Cap: $1.5 billion
YTD Performance: +20%
DCT Industrial Trust (NYSE:DCT) is another REIT like Franklin Street Properties. But instead of playing the commercial real estate game, DCT owns and operates distribution and light industrial properties located around highways in the United States and Mexico.
Collecting rent on truck warehouses is hardly a sexy enterprise, but it certainly is a stable one. DCT pays a reliable 7 cents quarterly, good for a 4.6% yield, and has paid that amount since 2009 when it cut its dividend because of the economic downturn. Its revenue is stuck in neutral at around $250 million annually, and the stock is struggling to break even. It also has bled through some of its cash lately. However, DCT is riding six straight quarters of year-over-year revenue increases and is narrowing its losses to only a few pennies per quarter. Things aren’t perfect, but the dividend is nice and could move up if and when a secular recovery boosts trucking traffic and the logistics business.
Judging by revenue trends and the gains so far in 2012, DCT seems to be firming up. And if it just drifts sideways for a year or so before it kicks into high gear? Well, the decent yield is a nice sweetener.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com and the author of “The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks.” Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.
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