Opinion

John Wasik

Another key factor for stock investors to watch

Aug 27, 2013 16:32 UTC

CHICAGO (Reuters) – It’s well known that small-company stocks have outperformed large-company stocks in terms of average annualized return since the 1920s, and bargain-priced stocks tend to outperform growth stocks.

Now there’s another factor worth watching: direct profitability.

Recent research by money management firm Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) shows a significant premium over time for investing in companies with high direct profitability – and you can adjust your portfolio accordingly to reap those outsized gains.

DFA’s definition of direct profitability is a bit technical: operating income before depreciation and amortization minus interest expense. In non-accounting terms, companies with high direct profitability are expected to have better returns than those with lower direct profitability.

In a paper recently released by Austin, Texas-based DFA, researchers Gerard O’Reilly and Savina Risova found that a group of high-profitability stocks outperformed a low-profitability group in terms of annualized average return by more than 5 percentage points over the period 1975-2012 – 17 percent vs. 11.7 percent.

For non-U.S. developed and emerging markets, the premiums were even greater – 5.4 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

Preferred stocks still make sense for yield

Aug 20, 2013 12:01 UTC

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Frustrated yield seekers have been drawn to preferred stocks because they offer a several-point yield advantage over most U.S. investment grade bonds, including Treasuries, corporates and municipal bonds.

But these quasi-stock, quasi-bond investments act like bonds when interest rates rise: They fall in value. That has brought them some negative attention in the last few months. Preferred stocks declined in value as investors scrambled to find higher-yielding vehicles when rates rose. They may now may be oversold and offer some bargains.

Preferreds straddle a territory between common stocks and bonds. Mostly issued by financial companies, preferred stocks confer no voting rights, but represent a higher claim on earnings than common stocks, and are less volatile.

Will rising rates bring rising stocks?

Aug 13, 2013 16:47 UTC

CHICAGO (Reuters) – For years, the conventional wisdom has been that rising interest rates are no friend of the stock market. A combination of higher costs of borrowing and potential inflation can be a one-two punch for companies and consumers.

But rising rates and stock prices happen more often than investors know, and they can herald brighter economic fortunes in the short term. There are ways to invest in both without getting burned.

This duet has had some off-key news of late because of fears that the U.S. Federal Reserve will curtail its bond-buying program: Bond yields have been rising over the past few months, which depresses bond prices. This has caused a minor shock to income-oriented investors.

Dividend darlings can beat S&P 500 index

Aug 5, 2013 19:23 UTC

CHICAGO, August 5 (Reuters) – When stock-fund managers beat
the market average, often it’s because of a roll of the dice.
Skill may come into play, but only rarely.

Sometimes, though, you can think counter-intuitively and
come out ahead. Such is the case with high-dividend funds that
may avoid loading up on the most glamorous stocks.

Dividends create something of a security blanket around a
stock price. In a market selloff, the stocks with the highest
market capitalization often get dumped and the dividend payers
often stay in portfolios because they promise higher total
returns.

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