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First Quarter 2014: Top and Bottom Performing Dividend Stocks

Investing in dividend growth stocks is a long-term proposition. One of the beauties of following a dividend growth strategy is that you don't have to watch your portfolio or the market on a daily basis. For the most part, daily, monthly and yearly movements are just noise in the system.

My normal practice is to refresh my analytical spreadsheets each Friday with updated price information on the 230 or more stocks that I follow. Even then, I don't normally look at the value of my portfolio or the performance of individual stocks.

However, each quarter I update my income portfolio's performance and benchmark it against the S&P 500 and other portfolios. At that time I will look at performance of individual stocks to understand the overall performance the portfolio.

Recently, I updated my Income Portfolio's performance for the first quarter. Building on that, here are my income portfolio's top and bottom five performers year-to-date through March 31, 2014, with their annualized returns:

Top Performers

#5. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) is a leader in the pharmaceutical, medical device and consumer products industries. JNJ has enjoyed significant price appreciation this year from around $91 at the beginning of the year to around $98 at the end of March.
Yield: 2.6% | Return: 36.5%

#4. Realty Income Corporation (NYSE:O) is an equity real estate investment trust that owns commercial retail real estate properties in the United States. With its stock moving from around $37 at the beginning of the year to nearly $41 on March 31, O has built a strong 2014 performance. The stock has benefited from investors looking for yield.
Yield: 5.2% | Return: 52.7%

#3. Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), the world's largest software company, develops PC software, including the Windows operating system and the Office application suite. Like the companies above, MSFT has enjoyed significant price appreciation this year from around $37 to $41 at the end of March.
Yield: 2.8% | Return: 53.2%

#2. National Retail Properties Inc. (NYSE:NNN) is an equity real estate investment trust that invests in high-quality, freestanding retail properties subject to long-term net leases with major retail tenants. NNN is another stock that has benefited from investors looking for yield. It started the year around $30 and closed March at nearly $34.
Yield: 4.7% | Return: 73.7%

#1. General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) is the world's fourth largest military contractor and also one of the world's biggest makers of corporate jets. GD started 2014 around $95 and finished the quarter around $109.
Yield: 2.3% | Return: 74.0%

Bottom Performers

#5 Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) is a global integrated oil company (formerly ChevronTexaco) has interests in exploration, production, refining and marketing, and petrochemicals. CVX started the year around $125 and closed March around $119.
Yield: 3.2% | Return: -15.3%

#4. Emerson Electric Co. (NYSE:EMR) designs and supplies product technology, and delivers engineering services and solutions to a wide range of industrial, commercial and consumer markets around the world. It started the year around $70 and closed quarter one around $67.
Yield: 2.5% | Return: -16.0%

#3. Aflac Incorporated (NYSE:AFL) provides supplemental health and life insurance in Japan (80% of earnings) and the U.S. Products are marketed at work sites and help fill gaps in primary coverage. AFL started the year around $67 and closed March around $63.
Yield: 2.3% | Return: -19.7%

#2. Cincinnati Financial Corp. (NASDAQ:CINF) is an insurance holding company that primarily markets property and casualty coverage. It also conducts life insurance and asset management operations. CINF was down about $3.70 and closed the quarter at $48.66.
Yield: 3.7% | Return: -23.3%

#1. Community Trust Bank Corp. (NASDAQ:CTBI) owns and operates Community Trust Bank Inc. of Pikeville, Ky., which provides commercial banking services in Kentucky and West Virginia, and a trust company. CTBI started the year around $45 and closed March a little over $41.
Yield: 3.4% | Return: -27.1%

To avoid short-term anomalies, I excluded stocks that I did not own on Jan. 1, 2014, from the above lists. Investing in dividend growth stocks is a long-term proposition, but sometimes it is nice to see that our portfolio is performing well, in addition to collecting higher dividends each month.

Full Disclosure: Long GD, NNN, MFST, O, CSCO, CVX, EMR, AFL, CINF, CTBI in my Dividend Growth Portfolio. See a list of all my dividend growth holdings here.

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- A Disciplined Approach To Dividend Stocks
- 3 Higher-Quality, High-Yield Dividend Stocks
- 13 Dividend Growth Stocks With A Good Yield/Growth Mix

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