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  • Operating earnings are driving dividends toward our growth target
  • Ongoing economic expansion is supporting business fundamentals
  • Select companies can deliver growth even with rising rates

 

After solid performance last year, can dividend stocks continue to deliver solid income and overall results in 2017? The question is timely and relevant. With one interest rate hike already enacted by the Federal Reserve and two more possible this year, many investors are wondering about the potential effects of rising interest rates on income-oriented equities.

Despite concerns in some quarters about valuations, we remain optimistic about select companies and are continuing to maintain our overweight to dividend and income-oriented equities. We are invested in companies we feel can continue their solid operating results under various scenarios, potentially benefiting from tax reform but also retaining defensive characteristics in the event that tax reform stalls or is watered down.

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We have found that companies that can grow earnings and dividends have performed well over longer periods of time. Notice in the first graph how the price performance of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) tracks closely with the upward movement in their cash flow growth, both actual and forecast. As part of our equity analysis work, we seek to invest in REITs that can grow their earnings consistently. We apply this growth discipline to other sectors as well.

We have solid confidence in our 3.0%-8.0% target growth in dividends, which have averaged 5.1% over the past two years (as shown in the second graph). We believe this kind of growth can help counter the fear of rising interest rates and the general concern over a higher rate environment.

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Going forward, we feel that modest return expectations in the 5.0%-7.0% range, driven by yields and projected growth in yields, are realistic.

Read More: High Income Is Key to Withstanding Market Volatility

Important Disclosures

The information presented does not involve the rendering of personalized investment, financial, legal, or tax advice. This presentation is not an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation of any offer to buy or sell, any of the securities mentioned herein.

Certain statements contained herein may constitute projections, forecasts, and other forward-looking statements, which do not reflect actual results and are based primarily upon a hypothetical set of assumptions applied to certain historical financial information. Certain information has been provided by third-party sources, and, although believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified, and its accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed.

Any opinions, projections, forecasts, and forward-looking statements presented herein are valid as of the date of this document and are subject to change.

There are inherent risks with equity investing. These risks include, but are not limited to, stock market, manager, or investment style. Stock markets tend to move in cycles, with periods of rising prices and periods of falling prices. Investing in international markets carries risks such as currency fluctuation, regulatory risks, and economic and political instability. Emerging markets involve heightened risks related to the same factors, as well as increased volatility, lower trading volume, and less liquidity. Emerging markets can have greater custodial and operational risks and less developed legal and accounting systems than developed markets.

Concentrating assets in the real estate sector or REITs may disproportionately subject a portfolio to the risks of that industry, including the loss of value because of adverse developments affecting the real estate industry and real property values. Investments in REITs may be subject to increased price volatility and liquidity risk; concentration risk is high.

Investments in Master Limited Partnerships (MLP) are susceptible to concentration risk, illiquidity, exposure to potential volatility, tax reporting complexity, fiscal policy and market risk. Investors of MLPs are subject to increased tax reporting requirements. MLP investors typically receive a complicated schedule K-1 form rather than Form 1099. MLPs may not be appropriate investments for tax-advantaged accounts because of potential negative tax consequences (Unrelated Business Income Tax).

There are inherent risks with fixed income investing. These risks may include interest rate, call, credit, market, inflation, government policy, liquidity, or junk bond. When interest rates rise, bond prices fall. This risk is heightened with investments in longer-duration fixed-income securities and during periods when prevailing interest rates are low or negative. The yields and market values of municipal securities may be more affected by changes in tax rates and policies than similar income-bearing taxable securities. Certain investors’ incomes may be subject to the Federal Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and taxable gains are also possible. Investments in below-investment-grade debt securities which are usually called “high yield” or “junk bonds,” are typically in weaker financial health and such securities can be harder to value and sell and their prices can be more volatile than more highly rated securities. While these securities generally have higher rates of interest, they also involve greater risk of default than do securities of a higher-quality rating.

Investments in emerging market bonds may be substantially more volatile, and substantially less liquid, than the bonds of governments, government agencies, and government-owned corporations located in more developed foreign markets. Emerging market bonds can have greater custodial and operational risks, and less developed legal and accounting systems than developed markets.

Yield to Worst is the lower of the yield to maturity or the yield to call. It is essentially the lowest potential rate of return for a bond, excluding delinquency or default.

As with any investment strategy, there is no guarantee that investment objectives will be met, and investors may lose money. Returns include the reinvestment of interest and dividends. Investing involves risk, including the loss of principal. Diversification may not protect against market loss or risk. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.

Index Definitions

The Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index represents 500 large U.S. companies. The comparative market index is not directly investable and is not adjusted to reflect expenses that the SEC requires to be reflected in the fund’s performance.

The Industrial Production Index (IPI) is an economic indicator that is released monthly by the Federal Reserve Board. The indicator measures the amount of output from the manufacturing, mining, electric, and gas industries.

MSCI EM Index is a free-float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure equity market performance in the global emerging markets. Net total return indexes reinvest dividends after the deduction of withholding taxes, using (for international indexes) a tax rate applicable to non-resident institutional investors who do not benefit from double taxation treaties.

MSCI EM Asia Index is a free-float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure equity market performance in the Asian emerging markets. Net total return indexes reinvest dividends after the deduction of withholding taxes, using (for international indexes) a tax rate applicable to non-resident institutional investors who do not benefit from double taxation treaties.

The MSCI U.S. REIT Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization that is comprised of equity REITs. The index is based on MSCI USA Investable Market Index (IMI) its parent index which captures large, mid and small caps securities.

Indices are unmanaged, and one cannot invest directly in an index. Index returns do not reflect a deduction for fees or expenses.