Over the past ten days, I made two purchases in my regular taxable stock accounts. I purchased Realty Income (O) and British Petroleum (BP).
When I last analyzed Realty Income (O), I mentioned that I would only purchase it at a specific yield. Well, back on September 21 I tweeted about my purchase of the stock as I found the yield to be attractive. The company has managed to raise dividends multiple times per year since going public in 1994, and continued raising even during the dark days of the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009. After an acquisition closed in early 2013, Realty Income raised distributions by over 19%. I like that this triple net REIT continues growing through targeted acquisitions of competitors and properties and that it is not afraid to look outside the box in order to find attractive uses of its capital at attractive cap rates of return. You are also paying for the expertise of the management team, which has done a superb job of ensuring quality tenants, diversification and keeping the properties occupied.
One of the risks behind REITs is that rising interest rates would cause investors to sell their stocks off, and purchase bonds instead. As an investor, I realize this could potentially increase the cost of capital for Realty Income, which obtains money to grow through stock or debt issuance. As long as new properties are acquired at rates of return above cost of capital however, future acquisitions should continue adding to the pool of funds available for shareholder distributions. In addition, while interest rates would increase, they would likely do so very slowly and would likely reach about the same levels that we had prior to the 2008 – 2009 crisis first. In addition, I would much rather have my money in a business like Realty Income that provides the potential to generate a high dividend yield today and the opportunity for dividend growth versus a long US Treasury Bond at a similar yield. This is because an increasing dividend payment over time would keep the purchasing power of my income and protect it from inflation. Fixed income instruments do not do this for you. Currently, Realty Income yields 5.40% and has a ten year dividend growth rate of 4.20%/year. It trades at 16.70 times FFO ( assuming FFO of $2.40/share).
The other company I purchased was British Petroleum (BP) on September 30. In addition, I also sold a January 2015 put with a strike of $42. If the stock trades below $42 at expiration date, I would have to buy it at $42/share. However, my effective cost would be slightly less than $37/share. If the stock trades above $42/share, I would end up with the equivalent of slightly more than $5/share. The option premium received financed a portion of my purchase of BP.
Before I discuss the purchase, I wanted to discuss my history with the company. I initially purchased shares back in 2008, and considered them one of the safest dividends for current income. However, the events in 2010 led to a dividend cut, after which I sold out my position completely and reinvested the proceeds into Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.B). I sell automatically after a dividend cut, as a means to protect myself from getting married to a company that is collapsing. I do not want to be in a position of someone who has received dividends from a company for 40 years, and is emotionally attached to the stock, and therefore ignores warning signs that the business is in trouble. This could lead to losses in investment capital, which could result in going back to work. There have been investors who hold on for too long to a lost cause, and then end up not only losing their income source but also their capital. I also do not want to end up justifying to myself that a business will bounce back, while I am experiencing the pain from losses and hoping, rather than assessing the situation with a cool head.
Since the company has started raising dividends after the cut however, I am willing to give it another try. I think that the Gulf of Mexico spill is a major reason why the stock is still so cheap at 9 times forward 2013 earnings and 7.90 times forward 2014 earnings. However, I think that the fear of bankruptcy for BP is larger than the total cash outlays it would end up expending over time for the oil spill. Therefore, I sense an opportunity to purchase an asset at reasonable valuations that no one likes. The stock also yields 5.10% with a $2.16 in annual dividend. The total amount dividends paid annually was $3.36/share prior to the oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I believe that this could easily be achieved by the end of this decade, especially if oil prices keep steady.
British Petroleum owns 19.75% of Russian Company Rosneft, which is the largest energy company in the world by reserves, and has a market capitalization of over 80 billion. BP also received a sizable cash consideration in the process, and will be using $8 billion from that to repurchase shares over the next 12 – 18 months. This would offset the reduction in earnings following the sale of its stake of BP –TNT to Rosneft for the cash and stock consideration.
In addition, BP has managed to replenish its reserves continuously over the past two decades. This is an important metric for oil companies, because it shows that they can replace the oil and gas extracted from developed fields through exploring for or acquiring fields that hold an equivalent amount or more of these precious carbons it sells worldwide.
Just like all other integrated energy companies, BP could suffer if oil and gas prices fall and stay low. However, I think that in the long-term, energy demand is only going higher from here. For example oil has so many uses outside of energy, that even if the whole world was running on solar and wind, there would still be a massive need for oil and gas. Even if the whole world used renewable energy to power the economy, realistically this is at least a couple decades away from it becoming mainstream. In the meantime, you can use the sizable dividend from BP as a sort of “rebate” to lower your cost basis in the stock.
Overall, I don't think I can go too wrong on a company like BP, which is cheap but has room to grow over time, offers a good dividend and buys back its cheap stock.
I would hate to turn this site into a stock picking service, but if there is interest, I would keep posting recent investments. As was the cash with my Roth IRA investments, I am going to post those in a couple weeks. I do post the tickers on Twitter, the day I make the transactions in that portfolio.
Please remember that I am making investments in my own accounts with my own money, based on information, estimates and biases (or experience) I have. These are not investment recommendations for you, but merely examples of the end result behind my investment philosophy and strategy in action. Do your own research before putting your money to work.
Full Disclosure: Long O, BP, RDS.B
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