In June, I invested my money equally in a selection of 10 high-yield dividend stocks. Those names offer triple the yield of the average S&P 500 stock. You can read all the details here.  Now let's check out the results so far.


Cost Basis



Total Value


Southern $39.71 25.0818 4.3% $1,112.88 11.7%
Exelon $41.82 23.818 5.4% $1,123.04 (5.8%)
National Grid $48.90 20.3693 5.8% $1,047.80 5.2%
Philip Morris International $68.49 14.5429 3.7% $1,224.95 23.0%
Annaly Capital $18.24 65.5 13.8% $1,080.75 (7.9%)
Frontier Communications $7.88 126.4243 8.9% $568.91 (42.9%)
Plum Creek Timber $38.42 26 4.3% $1,025.44 2.7%
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners $26.12 38.2825 4.7% $1,134.69 13.5%
Vodafone $26.52 37.5566 4.9% $1,030.93 3.5%
Seaspan $14.61 69 5.4% $1,277.19 26.7%
Cash       $53.80  
Dividends Receivable       $27.00  
Original Investment       $9,986.58  
Total Portfolio       $10,746.06 7.6%

Investment in SPY

(including dividends)


Relative Performance

(percentage points)


Source: S&P Capital IQ.

Our total portfolio performance since inception is 7.6%, just a hair behind that of the dividend-adjusted S&P. We have four stocks outperforming the index, and seven of 10 in positive territory. Despite the mild underperformance, we're still achieving a much-larger yield than the S&P, which should help keep the portfolio afloat when the seas get rough.

As I discussed in last week's column, I've adjusted the calculation of the total portfolio performance to accurately reflect total returns including dividend reinvestment. The previous method calculated the returns on investment, penalizing any reinvestment of cash. Now, I'm simply calculating the total return from the original June investment of $9,986.58. We have $10,746.06 in the account in cash and stock, so it's just a simple math problem to find the 7.6% total return. I'll adjust the calculation in all future weeks to more accurately reflect our returns, but I wanted to explain it here first. I let me be clear that I'm not changing the measuring stick in midstream (to mix metaphors).

In its latest earnings report, we got some dubious news for Annaly Capital (NYSE: NLY), one of the most popular dividend stocks due to its massive payout. In this video article, "Bad News for the Market's Hottest Dividends," I explain why investors should be cautious on the mortgage REITs going forward (hint: it has to do with the sustainability of its dividend). Fellow Fool Alex Dumortier also has a good column on what to watch out for in the mortgage REIT sector.

I'm continuing to evaluate how this portfolio will develop following its June one-year anniversary, my minimum holding period. One area of debate is how to re-structure the portfolio, if at all. For example, do I add new stocks and/or go above 10 positions? Last week a few readers also suggested that I give myself one mulligan for a stock that goes bad or where the fundamentals seriously mar the investment thesis. (Thanks, Fools!) Should I add a little bit more money into the portfolio? I'm mulling these decisions and how best to proceed.

As for portfolio composition, I continue to like Philip Morris (NYSE: PM) and Brookfield Infrastructure (NYSE: BIP) for their all-weather performance. They simply keep pushing out growing dividend streams year after year and have defensible businesses (in consumer goods and infrastructure, respectively). So over time I expect them to continue to climb higher. I also continue to like the utilities, especially National Grid (NYSE: NGG), not only for its global exposure but also for the good returns it earns in the U.K. and the billions in new investment needed in the next few years for the nation to maintain its infrastructure. Of these three, I expect to see the highest total returns from Philip Morris. 

Dividends and other announcements
We're through earnings seasons, and we have limited dividend news for the moment.  

Dividend news:

  • Southern went ex-dividend on Feb. 2 and paid out a dividend of $0.4725 per share on Mar. 5.
  • Exelon went ex-dividend on Feb. 13 and paid out $0.525 per share on Mar. 8.
  • Brookfield Infrastructure went ex-dividend on Feb. 27 and pays out $0.375 per share on Mar. 30.
  • Frontier (NYSE: FTR) went ex-dividend on Mar. 9 and pays out $0.10 per share on Mar. 30.

All that, of course, means more money coming into our pockets.

It's fun to sit back and get paid, and with the market volatility, we might have a good chance to reinvest those dividends at good prices. Europe continues to be an absolute mess, and continued bad news will likely have stocks plunging again -- and if they do, I'll be inclined to pick more shares up.

Foolish bottom line
I've been a fan of big dividends for a while, and I think this portfolio will outperform the market over time through the power of dividends. As I promised in the original article, I'll be holding these stocks for at least a year and will continue to track the portfolio over the course of the year, including news on these companies.

If you like dividends, consider the 10 tickers above along with the 11 names from a brand-new report from Motley Fool's expert analysts, "Secure Your Future With 11 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks." Today I invite you to download it at no cost to you. To get instant access to the names of these 11 high yielders, simply click here -- it's free.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.