Bill Miller seems befuddled. In his July 2010 commentary, he wonders why investors keep purchasing 10-year treasuries yielding about 3%, when companies like ExxonMobil offer much higher potential returns.

His formula for Exxon is straightforward: "A sum of the dividend yield, growth rate and share shrink could represent an attractive annual return even if the valuation stays the same, and the valuation is among the lowest the company has traded at in years." When you add up the components, Exxon could offer 15% returns per year in a low-return environment.

I'm no less baffled than Miller by investors' preference for bonds, but I do think he's on to something. To see whether more Miller-like opportunities like Exxon were out there, I looked for companies with:

  • A dividend yield greater than the 3% 10-year treasury yield
  • A five-year track record of dividend growth
  • A history of repurchasing shares
  • A P/E less than 25

Here's what I found:



5-Year Dividend Growth

Share Shrink


Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT)





Baxter International (NYSE: BAX)





Allergan (NYSE: AGN)





Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, and author calculations.

From the table above, Abbott Laboratories fits Miller's criteria perfectly. It pays a 3.5% dividend that has been growing 9.4%, on average, for the past five years. The company also trades at 15.1 times earnings and produces plenty of cash flow to repurchase shares. Industry comparables Baxter and Allergan do not meet all of the criteria for our exercise

Foolish bottom line
Would Bill Miller consider investing in Abbott Laboratories? It meets all the criteria above, and it could offer a 14% return over time -- although it will be hard for the company to maintain such a dividend growth rate. In today's low-return environment, that's pretty attractive. I don't know why the market is offering up this opportunity, but as long as it is, Abbott Laboratories could be worth pursuing further.

Million Dollar Portfolio associate advisor David Meier does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of ExxonMobil. The Fool's disclosure policy never goes out of style.