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But what to put on your watchlist? In the latest entry in our ongoing series, Motley Fool Million Dollar Portfolio associate advisor David Meier shares three dividend payers that he's watching.
One to watch
When David first added Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) to the MDP watchlist in August, he based his thesis in large part on the pile of cash the chip maker had on its hands. Generating tons of cash flow and boasting a strong balance sheet, David presumed the company's bagfuls of money would be used to bulk up its generous dividend. "They threw me a curveball," he says. Instead, the company went on a bit of a buying spree, spending a ton of cash on acquisitions -- including security software provider McAfee (NYSE: MFE ) -- that appear to be smart additions.
For now, David's adjusting his thinking and watching to see if the acquisitions turn out to make sense. If they can help the company maintain or even grow its enormous market share and improve its technology, which would allow it to raise prices, he'll be happy to get a piece of this giant and its dividend.
Two to watch
Another company on David's watchlist that offers steady growth and a nice dividend is pipeline operator Spectra Energy (NYSE: SE ) . Operating in the midstream, Spectra uses 118,900 miles of pipeline to move natural gas around the United States and Canada. In 2009, the company moved 3.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to customers, which means it could move Chesapeake Energy's (NYSE: CHK ) 2009 natural gas production more than four-and-a-half-times over. Management returns about a third of its impressive cash flow to shareholders as a dividend, which yields nearly 5% and is climbing 6.6% per year.
While David is enthusiastic about getting energy exposure in the portfolio, he's not crazy about the valuation. He and the MDP team are watching for the ever-present volatility in natural gas prices to offer an opportunity to grab shares at a better price.
Three to watch
David thought he had found a real winner in July when he added Dominion (NYSE: D ) to the MDP watchlist. As he wrote at the time, "If you took Exelon (NYSE: EXC ) , Southern Company (NYSE: SO ) , and Spectra Energy and rolled them into one company, you'd have Dominion. The company generates and transports energy, mainly to customers in Virginia and North Carolina -- and it's a whopper. Dominion not only owns 27,500 megawatts of generation assets, but also has 6,000 miles of electric transmission lines, 56,000 miles of electric distribution lines, 21,700 miles of gas pipelines, and 12,000 miles of natural gas pipelines. Talk about your one-stop energy shop!" With its 4.5% dividend yield, David was all but salivating.
But his salivary glands have since dried up.
"It seemed like a great fit for our portfolio and I thought its ability to do it all made it very attractive," he says. "But the more I looked at it, the less I liked the combination." In a relatively tortured analogy, it's like a sandwich -- turns out that you're better off picking your favorite peanut butter and the tastiest jelly and blending them to your specifications rather than having a company try doing it for you. As a result of his further investigation, the stock is nearing the end of its run on David's watchlist.
And that's exactly why it pays to watch. You can make smarter investing decisions with your own version of My Watchlist, new and free from the Fool. Click below to start following one of the stocks mentioned above: