It took a while, but the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) finally broke through its 2007 high. Market watchers like seeing the big indexes breaking to new highs, but it's even more fun when stocks you own join the party. I was lucky enough to have four in my portfolio hit new 52-week highs. Here's a little haiku fun to celebrate.
McDonald's (NYSE: MCD )
Burgers and coffee.
Golden Arches span the world.
I'm lovin' it.
Becton, Dickinson (NYSE: BDX )
New injection for pharma.
Still fairly priced.
Magellan Midstream Partners (NYSE: MMP )
Pipelines and storage.
Partnerships are on a tear.
Good payout with growth.
McCormick (NYSE: MKC )
Stock price getting too spicy?
Savor the flavor.
A Foolish investor might comment that new highs are nice but want to know if I'd buy the stocks today. Although none of the four is cheap, I'd add to one of them, am comfortable holding two, and am considering either trimming or selling covered calls against the other one.
Becton is the "add to." I'd like to buy it at a lower price. However, about 15 times next year's estimates is a fair price for a steady dividend grower that's still innovating with new products like prefilled injectables.
Like Becton, McDonald's is trading at a fair price for a solid dividend growth stock. The only reason I wouldn't add to my McDonald's position is that it's already one of my top two holdings.
Magellan Midstream has been a very good holding. It's a great partnership with good prospects to continue growing the payout. But it's up nearly 20% this year, the price rise has dropped the yield below 4%, and it looks just a little overpriced, which earns it a hold.
And that leaves McCormick. This is a great company with strong brands, an excellent dividend growth track record, and an effective cost-control program. But at 20 times forward earnings, it's expensive. I don't want to sell the position, but I also don't want to add at today's prices. Two possible paths forward are sell part of the position and wait for a drop to buy it back or sell an out-of-the-money covered call option.
These four stocks are typical of the type of investment that's being driven up in price by the Fed's zero-interest-rate policy and QE3. By pinning rates to zero and bidding up bond prices, the Fed is pushing investors from fixed income to dividend-paying equities. Even when the stocks are expensive, they can look like a bargain compared to cash and bonds with negative real returns. One big risk is what happens to stocks when the Fed pulls the plug.
If you're looking for some long-term investing ideas, you're invited to check out The Motley Fool's brand-new special report, "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need." It's absolutely free, so simply click here now and get your copy today.