Like Your Dividends? Thank a Foreigner

Marc Lichtenfeld By Marc Lichtenfeld, Chief Income Strategist, The Oxford Club

Dividend Investing

The Dow 22K hats were on display at the New York Stock Exchange last week. Traders wore them in celebration after the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed 22,000 for the first time.

The S&P 500 is also near record highs.

Of the 420 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings for the second quarter, 72% have beaten analysts’ expectations.

What’s fueling this strength?

It’s not U.S. consumers or industry.

In June, U.S. consumer spending was up just 0.1%, while income was flat.

In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal, half of the Dow’s advance in 2017 was due to just three stocks. And those companies get the majority of their sales overseas.

McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) are responsible for a quarter of the Dow’s move. Both companies get two-thirds of their sales outside the United States.

Boeing (NYSE: BA) has been the biggest contributor to the Dow’s surge this year, making up more than 25% of the Dow’s increase. About 60% of Boeing’s sales come from foreign countries.

It shouldn’t be a total surprise that U.S. companies are booking lots of foreign sales. The U.S. dollar is down nearly 11% this year. A cheaper dollar makes our exports less expensive to foreign buyers, which typically boosts sales.

And many countries have much hotter economies than the U.S. does, fueling demand for our products and services.

While U.S. GDP grew 2.6% in the second quarter, the highest level since the third quarter of last year, many countries are doing better.

Consider the most recent GDP growth rates for the following countries…

  • China: 6.9%
  • Philippines: 6.4%
  • Ireland: 6.1%
  • India: 6.1%
  • Indonesia: 5%.

Heck, even Latvia posted 4.1% growth.

Now, being that I’m the dividend guy, I wanted to find companies that are beneficiaries of the strength of international markets but that also pay investors decent yields.

So in other words, we’re letting foreign consumers and businesses pay us dividends.

Here are three to consider:

  1. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) – The chipmaker has a 2.9% yield, and derives 40% of its business from China and 78% from outside the U.S.
  1. Invesco (NYSE: IVZ) – The investment management firm sports a 3.3% yield, and it gets 37% of its revenue from Europe and 46% from non-U.S. countries.
  1. Aflac (NYSE: AFL) – The health insurer with the annoying duck is big in Japan. The land of the rising sun is responsible for 70% of the company’s revenue. Another 2% comes from countries besides the U.S. The stock yields 2%.

With hot economies in other parts of the world and a soft dollar, U.S. companies are likely to continue to generate meaningful amounts of revenue overseas.

If the dollar stays weak, these companies and others should be winners for the foreseeable future.

Good investing,

Marc