A sort of 'dividend of the month' club is becoming increasingly popular

April 21, 1991|By Dick Marlowe | Dick Marlowe,Orlando Sentinel

So those great high-yielding certificates of deposit bought a few years ago are maturing; you aren't satisfied with the rollover rates being offered; and you can't decide what to do with your money.

It is a situation being faced by millions of Americans. And the low interest rate is chasing a lot of investors in search of new ideas.

Ever since financial institutions started offering money-market rates in the 1970s, millions of people have come to cherish CDs because they offered safety, a good yield and the choice of using interest either for income or letting their principal ride on the magic wings of compound interest.

For those on a fixed income, it is not easy to accept a pay cut when interest rates drop. Lifestyles sometimes suffer.

Those in search of a steady income might like the Dow Theory Forecast concept of "dividends every month."

Next to Social Security and pension checks, there is nothing many retirees like to receive in the mail more than quarterly dividend checks. The problem is that the year has only four quarters -- while bills for rent, utilities and groceries come due every month.

Consequently, Dow Theory Forecasts publishes annually a list of companies that employ three dividend payment schedules. One set of recommended companies sends out dividend checks in January, April,July and October. The second group puts the check in the mail in February, May, August and November; and the third set of companies divvies up in March, June, September and December.

By taking from all three pools, investors can build their portfolios based on which companies they like and what economic prospects they see for the future.

The companies on the list are those deemed by Dow Theory Forecasts to be companies with "a strong financial position, a good dividend history and a bright 2-3 year profit outlook."

No company is a sure thing, of course, and it is important to understand that dividend cuts are a real possibility in uncertain times.

Ford Motor Co. shareholders learned that lesson earlier last weekwhen the company slashed its dividend 47 percent, to 40 cents a share.

But the companies on the "dividend every month" list are basically solid companies in a variety of industries ranging from railroads to banking, drugs, chemicals, retail, oil, electric utility, communications and computers -- even tobacco.

As an example of how the plan works, an investor might buy stock in Dow Chemical Co.; Sears, Roebuck and Co.; General Electric Co.; and Eastman Kodak Co. to qualify for dividends in January, April, July and October.

For February, May, August and November, the choices would include the likes of BellSouth Corp.; Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.; TECO Energy Inc.; and Citicorp.

To perk up March, June, September and December, investors couldchoose from stocks such as Exxon Corp., K mart Corp., American Home Products Corp.; and International Business Machines Corp.

The list is extensive, and anybody can play the system. It isn't copyrighted, and portfolio builders do not have to stick to the Dow Theory Forecasts list.

Brokers and financial planners will be more than happy to help you find a dividend for every month.

The yield might not be as good as those great old double-digit CDs. Most are in the range of 2 percent to 7 percent.

But the other side of the story is that there is a chance that the price of the selected stocks will rise.

Who knows? Someday the practice of increasing dividends might come back into vogue.

Dow Theory Forecasts, a stock market trends report based in Hammond, Ind., says the "dividend every month" system is becoming popular with its subscribers, who pay $222 a year for the reports.

Last week's market commentary, by the way, said, "The market's breather could continue in the near term. However, investors should maintain positions and add to holdings on weakness."

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