NextEra Energy Raises Its Dividend While Ford Drives Home Big Overseas Sales Growth

In May, I announced my intention to create a portfolio that embodied life's basic needs. To that end, over a period of 10 weeks, I detailed 10 diverse companies that I think will outperform the broad-based S&P 500 over a three-year period because of their ability to outperform in both bull markets and bear markets, as well as their incredible pricing power in nearly any economic environment.

If you'd like a closer look at my reasoning behind each selection, just click on any, or all, of the following portfolio components:

Let's look at how our portfolio of basic-needs stocks has fared since we began this experiment.

Company

Cost Basis

Shares

Total Value

Return

Waste Management

$42.60

23.24

$1,014.89

2.5%

Intel

$23.22

42.64

$1,055.34

6.6%

NextEra Energy

$87.94

11.26

$1,050.22

6.1%

MasterCard

$64.557

15.30

$1,184.07

19.9%

Chevron

$124.95

7.93

$899.90

(9.2%)

Select Medical

$8.96

110.49

$1,181.14

19.3%

Ford

$17.50

56.57

$862.13

(12.9%)

American Water Works

$43.13

22.96

$1,001.06

1.1%

Procter & Gamble

$81.29

12.18

$967.09

(2.3%)

AvalonBay Communities

$133.95

7.39

$953.24

(3.7%)

Cash

   

$0.88

 

Dividends receivable

   

$139.79

 

Total commission

   

($100.00)

 

Original Investment

   

$10,000.00

 

Total portfolio value

   

$10,309.75

3.1%

S&P 500 performance

     

7.5%

Performance relative to S&P 500

     

(4.4%)

Source: Yahoo! Finance, author's calculations.

With a little more than half of this portfolio having reported earnings for the quarter, and the remainder due up over the next two weeks, this past week was primarily spent watching dividends be issued, declared, or recorded.

Show me the money!
There's nothing that I enjoy more than coming back from a holiday and receiving a dividend payment, which is exactly what happened to shareholders of consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) . Reflected in the dividends receivable column above is the $0.6015 per share that shareholders on record as of Jan. 24 received today.Reflected in the dividends receivable column above is the fact that on Tuesday, Procter & Gamble shareholders will be $0.6015 richer per each share that they own. Having raised its dividend in each of the past 57 years, P&G offers one of the safest dividends on Wall Street. With A.G. Lafley at the helm and the company consistently producing mid-single-digit organic volume growth, I see no reason this dividend growth streak won't continue again this year.

Integrated oil and gas giant Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) didn't put any more money in our pocket just yet, but it did go ex-dividend on Wednesday of last week. The $1.00 per share stipend is payable on March 10 to shareholders on record as of Valentine's Day. The real gift of love, though, is the current 3.5% yield, which is well above its larger rival ExxonMobil at just 2.7%. Although Chevron has encountered softness in its bottom line due to refining weakness in recent months, its diverse asset portfolio, including its massive natural gas fields off the coast of Australia, should easily fuel profit and dividend growth for decades.

Finally, electric utility NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE  ) on Friday declared a quarterly dividend of $0.725, which is an increase of 9.8% over the $0.66 it paid out in the previous quarter. According to the press release from NextEra, the dividend increase is consistent with the company's proposed plan targeting a payout ratio of approximately 55% relative to its adjusted earnings. The dividend will be payable on March 17 to shareholders on record as of Feb. 28, and it boosts NextEra's annual yield up to a respectable 3.1%. This also marks the 15th time NextEra has raised its dividend just since 2000. With a clear advantage in long-term energy costs over its peers, it looks like smooth sailing for NextEra shareholders.

In cruise control overseas
Automaker Ford (NYSE: F  ) may have faced some rough comparisons in January in the United States because of inclement weather, but it was in cruise control in two of its other major overseas markets. On Wednesday, Ford reported that unit sales grew by 53% in China to 94,466 wholesale vehicles, with an 8% gain in Ford Focus sales and a number of new product initiatives pushing unit volume higher. Even Europe delivered industry-topping growth with unit sales on Friday reported to be up 9.2% in the region compared to 4.7% for the industry as a whole. It marked the eighth straight month of sales unit expansion in the region and allowed Ford to gain 0.4% market share in Europe during the month. Obviously, the auto market is very competitive domestically and overseas, but Ford's sleek designs and proprietary EcoBoost technology appear to be making all the difference at the moment.

Let's make a deal
Finally, as Bloomberg noted on Tuesday, Google has officially displaced Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) among the top spot for deal-making over the past three years. According to Bloomberg's data, Google has been involved in 127 deals totaling $17.6 billion over the past three years, while Intel orchestrated 121 deals in the comparable period. While it might seem disappointing for Intel to lose this title, I'm not surprised given that it's focused on developing organic processing solutions for the cloud-based market. As long as it continues to dominate the PC market and generates significant cash flow there, it'll be able to funnel those operating profits into new research and development initiatives. It may have lost its title of top dealmaker, but it's going to gain so much more by innovating in-house.

Back to basics
The past week saw pretty sizable, yet comparable, gains for both the S&P 500 and the Basic Needs Portfolio. As I've stated in the past, this portfolio wasn't designed to beat the S&P 500 on a week-to-week basis, but instead, through consistent cash flow and healthy dividend growth, trounce the S&P 500 over the long term. Nothing over these past six months has changed my perception on any of these 10 stocks, so I'm merely looking forward to sitting back and letting inelastic demand and prices work in my favor over the long run.

This is the "secret" that will allow this portfolio to dominate over the long run
One of the dirty secrets that few finance professionals will openly admit is the fact that dividend stocks as a group handily outperform their non-dividend paying brethren. The reasons for this are too numerous to list here, but you can rest assured that it's true. However, knowing this is only half the battle. The other half is identifying which dividend stocks in particular are the best. With this in mind, our top analysts put together a free list of nine high-yielding stocks that should be in every income investor's portfolio. To learn the identity of these stocks instantly and for free, all you have to do is click here now.


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