WHY IS DIVIDEND SO IMPORTANT? From Dr Neoh Soon Kean’s STOCK MARKET INVESTMENT (Comments by Calvin Tan)
WHY IS DIVIDEND IMPORTANT?
Dividend is important for many reasons. The most important reason has been explained a chapter earlier on, that is, dividend is the only benefit which a shareholder can obtain from a company under the normal circumstances. Profit, per se, is hardly of any use to him directly and the assets are only of value if the company is liquidated which is unlikely in a great majority of cases. Apart from this reason, dividend is important for the following reasons:
1) Dividend is a sure thing.
All too often, investors and speculators pay too much attention to profit forecast. It is amazing that so many malaysian companies have the courage to make profit forecast for many years into the future. What is even more amazing is that so many of the investors seem to believe these forecasts absolutely. It is difficult to make a profit forecast a year ahead, let alone five years or even ten years. Such profit forecasts can only be regarded as extremely shaky.
Let us take a recent example. During 1981, when the “property injection game” was at its height, many of the companies which were first getting into property development business gave very rosy forecasts of future earnings potential, as a result the price of these shares naturally went up to tremendous heights. Since then, the housing market softened considerably and the office rental market has declined 40-50 per cent. In just three years, the profit picture of just about all land development companies has changed considerably. I wonder how many of those forecasts made in 1981 can still stand up to scrutiny today.
Dividend is real and it is something which the shareholders can put to some use. Most companies keep dividend at a level they can afford to pay out irrespective of whether it is a good or bad year and is hence a great deal more certain than profit forecast.
2) Dividend provides a link with reality.
When the market is truly ‘hot’, few of us can keep truly rational and we tend to be swept along in the general atmosphere of optimism. But the dividend yield of a share keeps us in close touch with the real world. As in the earlier example of OCBC, anyone who keeps his eye on the dividend yield of that share would have realised that the price level was totally unreal. Most people would agree that at a dividend yield of 0.4 per cent it would be better to sell a share and invest the proceed in houses or leave the money in fixed deposit.
In the established stock markets of the world, the dividend yield (ie dividend per share/price per share) usually has a steady relationship with the fixed deposit and its interest rate. It is normal for dividend yield to fluctuate at around 1/3 to 1/2 of the long-term deposit interest rate. This means that when fixed deposit interest is around 10 per cent per annum, stock should sell at a price to provide a yield of 3 per cent to 5 per cent. Taking a look at the yield provided by local shares during bull markets, the dividend yield is usually so low as to be meaningless. Futhermore, one should not forget that fixed deposit of 15 months or longer and fixed deposits in National Savings Bank are interest free in Malaysia while dividend has a witholding tax of 40 per cent applied at source.
3) Dividend provides a ‘floor’ for shares during bear markets.
Stock markets of the world, especially the Malaysian/Singaporean market is not readily predictable. They can collapse so easily into a ‘bear pit’ with little warning. If we wished to protect our hard earned capital, we must be defensive in our investment approach. One of the best defense is to buy shares with reasonable dividend yield (i.e. a yield of between 1/2 of deposit interest rate). If we buy a share because it pays a reasonable dividend, our loss is likely to be small even during periods of sharp market decline.
For example, we can buy a share which pays 30 cents dividend at Rm5.00 a share and this gives us a dividend yield of 6 per cent. If the share market goes into a sharp decline, the amount this share can fall to is limited by the fact that it pays a 30 cents dividend. If the price is to fall to as low as Rm3.00, it will be giving a dividend yield of 10 per cent which is about as good as what one can get from fixed deposit but with the additional opportunity to capital gain thrown in.
Most people can see that at that price, the share is probably a good bargain and it is therefore unlikely to fall any lower.It has been my experience that with the exception of mining counters, a dividend yield of 12 per cent seems to be the floor below which most stocks will not drop. In sharp contrast, shares which pay low or no dividend at all do not seem to have any bottom and price decline can hit 90 per cent or more.
4) Dividend yield prevents investors from being side-tracked by irrelevant events.
The Malaysian/Singaporean stock market can be characterised by a large number of events which are of little real benefit to the existing shareholders and yet which excite them greatly. I am referring to the large number of bonus announcements, rights issues, property injections, take-overs, and mergers which have made their appearance in recent years. Most of these events are of little, if any, real economic benefit to the existing shareholders of the companies involved.
Despite this, the price of the shares of a company involved in an event of this nature tends to rise sharply. Later chapters will explain in detail why these events are, in the main, irrelevant and some of them may even be damaging.
For the moment, let us consider the following. According to the dividend yield approach to share valuation, a share can have increased value only if there is a likelihood that its dividend will rise faster than originally expected. We ask ourselves in what way events like bonuses, rights, mergers and re-organisations in themselves can improve the future dividend picture of a company. If these events cannot lead to such an increase, the share surely does not deserve a higher valuation.
It is hoped that readers are, by now, at least partially convinced of the wisdom of buying a share for its dividend. In later chapters, the range of dividend yields which is reasonable for different categories of shares will be examined. In the meantime, I leave you with a short ditty that has been popular for years in the US and is still often quoted as advice to first time share buyers.
A cow for its milk,
Bees for their honey,
And shares, by golly,
For their dividend.
The above passage is taken from the book “STOCK MARKET INVESTMENT” in Malaysia And Singapore
By Dr . Neoh Soon Kean of Dynaquest Sdn Bhd (pp 148 to 150) Published in year 1985.
May I add more to Dr Neoh’s article
5) Great Investor Warren Buffet Invests in SEE’S CANDY for its dividends. SEE’S CANDY 20% DIVIDEND were used to invest in other Great Stocks
At the depth of the subprime Crisis Warren Invested in Goldman’s Preference shares with 10% dividend
This has Made Berkshire Hathaway the best performing fund for the longest length of time
6) MY JOHOR SIFU INVESTS IN DIVIDEND STOCKS BY AVERAGING DOWN HIS COST
(Note: Not averaging down fallen share price but averaging down his holding cost by deducting dividend from capital through the years)
It’s like this
BUYING PIE AT RM1.00 For example. And deduct 15% to 20% dividend every year so
Rm1.00 – 15 sen
Cost 85 sen
Next year dividend 20 sen
So cost drops to 65 sen
Then the third year another 15 sen dividend
So holding cost is 50 sen
(This is only an illustration)
THIS IS HOW HE AVERAGES DOWN HIS HOLDING COST BY DEDUCTING OFF DIVIDENDS
IT FEELS VERY GOOD HOLDING STOCKS THROUGH MANY MANY YEARS TO HAVE GOTTEN BACK ORIGINAL CAPITAL BY WAY OF DIVIDENDS
7) BY BUYING INTO DIVIDEND PAYING SHARES DURING GREAT PANIC TIME WILL SPRING GOOD SURPRISES
Example is buying Pm Corp at bottom of 7.5 sen in a time of panic
Later Pm Corp gave an 8 sen Cash payout
So 7.5 sen – 8 sen equals -5 sen
OR PM CORP IS FREE WITH EXTRA HALF SEN PROFIT
When Pm Corp gave 8 sen Cash Payout we Got back the original capital of 7.5 sen Plus extra half sen free
AND FREE PM CORP SHARES FOR FOREVER
Buying Opcom after Lehman Brothers’ Crisis at 30 sen
Opcom after getting Rm359 Millions Job award from TM gave out a Special Dividend of 22.5 sen
Next year another tax free dividend of 10 sen making it a total of 32.5 sen
SO OPCOM IS NOW FREE FOR FOREVER PLUS 2.5 Sen Extra
THIS IS THE REASON WHY DIVIDEND IS SO IMPORTANT FOR LONG TERM WEALTH BUILDING
Now see this
According to Dr. Neoh, “A dividend yield of 12 per cent seems to be the floor below which most stocks will not drop”.
In the Deepest Depth of the Lehman Brothers’ Crisis after Bear Sterns & Lehman Brothers both gone bankrupt Warren Buffet bought into the safety of Goldman Sachs’ Preference shares with guaranteed 10% yield.
Now take heed to Dr. Neoh’s warning, “In sharp contrast, shares which pay low or no dividend at all do not seem to have any bottom and price decline can hit 90 per cent or more”.
The characteristic of past bear markets like the Tulip Mania, The South Sea Bubble, The Great Depression of 1930s in USA, the Stock Market Rout of Asian Finacial Crisis in 1997/8 and The Lehman Brothers’ Debacle of 2007/8 have witnessed many stocks & index crashing up to 90% or more.
SO LISTEN! LISTEN!! LISTEN!!!
Speculative & Non Dividend High Flying Popular Stocks Might Fall by A Whopping 90% During Bad Bear Markets or in a Crisis
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