How To Squeeze Yields Up To 6.9% From Blue-Chip Stocks

Closeup of blue poker chip on red felt card table surface with spot light on chip

Preferred stocks are the little-known answer to the dividend question: How do I juice meaningful 5% to 6% yields from my favorite blue-chip stocks? “Common” blue chips stocks usually don’t pay 5% to 6%. Heck, the S&P 500’s current yield, at just 1.3%, is its lowest in decades.

But we can consider the exact same 505 companies in the popular index—names like JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Broadcom (AVGO) and NextEra Energy (NEE)—and find yields from 4.2% to 6.9%. If we’re talking about a million dollar retirement portfolio, this is the difference between $13,000 in annual dividend income and $42,000. Or, better yet, $69,000 per year with my top recommendation.

Most investors don’t know about this easy-to-find “dividend loophole” because most only buy “common” stock. Type AVGO into your brokerage account, and the quote that your machine spits back will be the common variety.

But many companies have another class of shares. This “preferred payout tier” delivers dividends that are far more generous.

Companies sometimes issue preferred stock rather than issuing bonds to raise cash. And these preferred dividends have a few benefits:

  • They receive priority over dividends paid on common shares.
  • Sometimes, preferred dividends are “cumulative”—if any dividends are missed, those dividends still have to be paid out before dividends can be paid to any other shareholders.
  • They’re typically far juicier than the modest dividends paid out on common stock. A company whose commons yield 1% or 2% might still distribute 5% to 7% to preferred shareholders.

But it’s not all gravy.

You’ll sometimes hear investors call preferreds “hybrid” securities. That’s because they act like a part-stock, part-bond holding. The way they resemble bonds is how they trade around a par value over time, so while preferreds can deliver price upside, they don’t tend to deliver much.

No, the point of preferreds is income and safety.

Now, we could go out and buy individual preferreds, but there’s precious little research out there allowing us to make a truly informed decision about any one company’s preferreds. Instead, we’re usually going to be better off buying preferred funds.

But which preferred funds make the cut? Let’s look at some of the most popular options, delivering anywhere between 4.2% to 6.9% at the moment.

Wall Street’s Two Largest Preferred ETFs

I want to start with the iShares Preferred and Income Securities (PFF, 4.2% yield) and Invesco Preferred ETF (PGX, 4.5%). These are the two largest preferred-stock ETFs on the market, collectively accounting for some $27 billion in funds under management.

On the surface, they’re pretty similar in nature. Both invest in a few hundred preferred stocks. Both have a majority of their holdings in the financial sector (PFF 60%, PGX 67%). Both offer affordable fees given their specialty (PFF 0.46%, PGX 0.52%).

There are a few notable differences, however. PGX has a better credit profile, with 54% of its preferreds in BBB-rated (investment-grade debt) and another 38% in BB, the highest level of “junk.” PFF has just 48% in BBB-graded preferreds and 22% in BBs; nearly a quarter of its portfolio isn’t rated.

Also, the Invesco fund spreads around its non-financial allocation to more sectors: utilities, real estate, communication services, consumer discretionary, energy, industrials and materials. Meanwhile, iShares’ PFF only boasts industrial and utility preferreds in addition to its massive financial-sector base.

PGX might have the edge on PFF, but both funds are limited by their plain-vanilla, indexed nature. That’s why, when it comes to preferreds, I typically look to closed-end funds.

Closed-End Preferred Funds

CEFs offer a few perks that allow us to make the most out of this asset class.

For one, most preferred ETFs are indexed, but all preferred CEFs are actively managed. That’s a big advantage in preferred stocks, where skilled pickers can take advantage of deep values and quick changes in the preferred markets, while index funds must simply wait until their next rebalancing to jump in.

Closed-end funds also allow for the use of debt to amplify their investments, both in yield and performance. Should the manager want, CEFs can also use options or other tools to further juice returns.

And they often pay out their fatter dividends every month!

Take John Hancock Preferred Income Fund II (HPF, 6.9% yield), for example. It’s a tighter portfolio than PFF or PGX, at just under 120 holdings from the likes of CenterPoint Energy (CNP), U.S. Cellular (USM) and Wells Fargo (WFC).

Manager discretion means a lot here. That is, HPF doesn’t just invest in preferreds, which are 70% of assets. It also has 22% invested in corporate bonds, another 4% or so in common stock, and trace holdings of foreign stock, U.S. government agency debt and cash. And it has a whopping 32% debt leverage ratio that really helps prop up the yield and provide better returns (though at the cost of a bumpier ride).

You have a similar situation with Flaherty & Crumrine Preferred and Income Securities Fund (FFC, 6.7%).

Here, you’re wading deep into the financial sector at nearly 80% exposure, with decent-sized holdings in utilities (7%) and energy (7%). Credit quality is roughly in between PFF and PGX, with 44% BBB, 37% BB and 19% unrated.

Nonetheless, smart management selection (and a healthy 31% in debt leverage) has led to far better, albeit noisier, returns than its indexed competitors. The Cohen & Steers Select Preferred and Income Fund (PSF, 6.0%) is about as pure a play as you could want in preferreds.

And it’s also a pure performer.

PSF is 100% invested in preferred stock (well, more like 128% if you count debt leverage), and actually breaks out its preferreds into institutionals that trade over-the-counter (83%), retail preferreds that trade on an exchange (16%) and floating-rate preferreds that trade OTC or on exchanges (1%).

Like any other preferred fund, you’re heavily invested in the financial sector at nearly 73%. But you do get geographic diversification, as only a little more than half of PSF’s assets are invested in the U.S. Other well-represented countries include the U.K. (13%), Canada (7%) and France (6%).

What’s not to love?

Brett Owens is chief investment strategist for Contrarian Outlook. For more great income ideas, get your free copy his latest special report: Your Early Retirement Portfolio: 7% Dividends Every Month Forever.

I graduated from Cornell University and soon thereafter left Corporate America permanently at age 26 to co-found two successful SaaS (Software as a Service) companies. Today they serve more than 26,000 business users combined. I took my software profits and started investing in dividend-paying stocks. Today, it’s almost impossible to find good stocks that pay a quality yield. So I employ a contrarian approach to locate high payouts that are available thanks to some sort of broader misjudgment. Renowned billionaire investor Howard Marks called this “second-level thinking.” It’s looking past the consensus belief about an investment to map out a range of probabilities to locate value. It is possible to find secure yields of 6% or more in today’s market – it just requires a second-level mindset.

Source: How To Squeeze Yields Up To 6.9% From Blue-Chip Stocks

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Critics:

A blue chip is stock in a stock corporation (contrasted with non-stock one) with a national reputation for quality, reliability, and the ability to operate profitably in good and bad times. As befits the sometimes high-risk nature of stock picking, the term “blue chip” derives from poker. The simplest sets of poker chips include white, red, and blue chips, with tradition dictating that the blues are highest in value. If a white chip is worth $1, a red is usually worth $5, and a blue $25.

In 19th-century United States, there was enough of a tradition of using blue chips for higher values that “blue chip” in noun and adjective senses signaling high-value chips and high-value property are attested since 1873 and 1894, respectively. This established connotation was first extended to the sense of a blue-chip stock in the 1920s. According to Dow Jones company folklore, this sense extension was coined by Oliver Gingold (an early employee of the company that would become Dow Jones) sometime in the 1920s, when Gingold was standing by the stock ticker at the brokerage firm that later became Merrill Lynch.

Noticing several trades at $200 or $250 a share or more, he said to Lucien Hooper of stock brokerage W.E. Hutton & Co. that he intended to return to the office to “write about these blue-chip stocks”. It has been in use ever since, originally in reference to high-priced stocks, more commonly used today to refer to high-quality stocks.

References:

Micro Investing’s Magic Lies in Helping Your Favorite College Grad (or You) Gain Confidence

Micro Investing's Magic Lies in Helping Your Favorite College Grad (or You) Gain Confidence

When you first graduate from college, you might not feel comfortable dumping lots of money into unknown stocks or ETFs. Even if you’re not a new college graduate, you may want to consider a different approach when you don’t have a lot of extra cash lying around. Why not try micro investing?

Micro investing takes the daunting feeling away from investing, and therein lies its true magic. Let’s take a look at what it can do for you and how it can find a place in your portfolio.

What is Micro Investing?

Put simply, when you micro invest, you invest using small amounts of money. In other words, you pony up money to buy fractional shares of stocks or ETFs instead of full shares.

As of today, a single share of Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) costs $3,383.87. You may know you can’t even afford one share of Amazon, much less two shares!

Enter micro investing apps. You can buy Amazon for a much smaller amount — even really small amounts, like $10. You can also buy multiple securities to aim for diversification (always a great thing!) and lower your risk in the long run.

Why Micro Invest?

Small amounts, compounded over time, can make an impact. Compound interest makes your money grow faster. You can calculate interest on accumulated interest as well as on your original principal. Compounding can create a snowball effect: The original investments plus the income earned from those investments both grow.

Let’s say you save $1 per day. Your $1 per day adds up to $365 a year. Instead of spending that $365, you could stick it into a micro investing app at 5% interest per year. Your small amount would grow to almost $466 by the end of five years. At the end of 30 years, the amount you originally invested would grow to $1,578.

If you micro invested even more, your investment could grow even faster.

How Does Micro Investing Work?

Have you ever heard of the app, Acorns, which invests small change for you? That’s micro investing. A micro investing app rounds up your purchases to the dollar or makes automatic transfers for you. Think of micro investing as “spare change investing” — many apps round up your transactions from a linked bank account and invest the difference.

In other words, let’s say you go to Chipotle and order a mega burrito with those delicious limey chips. You spend $10.34. The app would take your remaining $0.66 and invest it.

You don’t have to invest a lot to get started, either. Stash allows you to get started with just a penny. Interested in micro investing for your favorite college grad or yourself? Take a look at the following steps to get started with micro investing.

Step 1: Choose a micro investing app.

What’s often the hardest part? Choosing the right investment app. Often the most important question comes down to this: Do you want to get your hands directly on your investments or do you want an app to pilot and direct your money for you?

Quick overview: Acorns and Betterment put a portfolio together for you based on your preferences. Stash and Robinhood allow you to choose the direction you want your money to take by allowing you to choose your own investments.

You may want to choose an app that lets you steer the ship yourself, particularly if you want to take a DIY approach to your investments at some point.

Step 2: Input your information.

Once you’ve chosen a micro investing app, it’s time to let the robo-advisor do its job. You input information to your micro investing app that helps it “understand” how to put together the best portfolio for you. You input your age, income, goals and risk tolerance and it’ll allocate your investment dollars accordingly.

Your money will go into a portfolio of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) based on the level of risk you choose. Based on the information you supply, you could end up thoroughly diversified with shares in many (sometimes hundreds) of different companies.

Step 3: Set up recurring investments.

You can set up investments to go into your investment account on a recurring basis for just a few dollars per month. You can also choose to make one-time deposits. Your robo-advisor will automatically rebalance your account if you have too much invested in a particular asset class. Setting up recurring investing means that you’ll invest without thinking about it. (You’ll never miss pennies!)

Step 4: Don’t quit there.

You can easily track your earnings when you micro invest because those apps are seriously slick. You can even project your earnings through the app’s earnings calculator so you don’t have to wonder how much you’ll have later on.

However, this is important: Remember that micro investing may not make you rich (if, in fact that is your goal). You probably can’t save enough for retirement through micro-investing, either. You probably also won’t net enough to save for larger goals, such as a down payment on a home. You may generate a few hundred dollars a year, which might allow you to save enough to fund an emergency fund, but that’s about it.

The real win involves building the confidence needed to invest. Consider other ways you can invest, such as investing money in a 401(k) or a Roth IRA after you get comfortable with micro investing.

Micro Investing Could Work Wonders

Micro investing can work wonders by breaking down barriers to investing. One of the biggest complaints from young students just starting out is that it’s too expensive to invest.

Micro investing can give you or a new grad the confidence to try bigger things, starting with baby steps. If micro investing is what it takes for a new grad to get more comfortable with smaller investments (then grow investments later), then it’s a great option for young investors just getting started.

By:

Source: Micro Investing’s Magic Lies in Helping Your Favorite College Grad (or You) Gain Confidence

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Critics:

Microfinance is a category of financial services targeting individuals and small businesses who lack access to conventional banking and related services. Microfinance includes microcredit, the provision of small loans to poor clients; savings and checking accounts; microinsurance; and payment systems, among other services. Microfinance services are designed to reach excluded customers, usually poorer population segments, possibly socially marginalized, or geographically more isolated, and to help them become self-sufficient.[2][3]

Microfinance initially had a limited definition: the provision of microloans to poor entrepreneurs and small businesses lacking access to credit.[4] The two main mechanisms for the delivery of financial services to such clients were: (1) relationship-based banking for individual entrepreneurs and small businesses; and (2) group-based models, where several entrepreneurs come together to apply for loans and other services as a group.

Over time, microfinance has emerged as a larger movement whose object is: “a world in which as everyone, especially the poor and socially marginalized people and households have access to a wide range of affordable, high quality financial products and services, including not just credit but also savings, insurance, payment services, and fund transfers.

Proponents of microfinance often claim that such access will help poor people out of poverty, including participants in the Microcredit Summit Campaign. For many, microfinance is a way to promote economic development, employment and growth through the support of micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses; for others it is a way for the poor to manage their finances more effectively and take advantage of economic opportunities while managing the risks. Critics often point to some of the ills of micro-credit that can create indebtedness. Many studies have tried to assess its impacts.

New research in the area of microfinance call for better understanding of the microfinance ecosystem so that the microfinance institutions and other facilitators can formulate sustainable strategies that will help create social benefits through better service delivery to the low-income population.

Due to the unbalanced emphasis on credit at the expense of microsavings, as well as a desire to link Western investors to the sector, peer-to-peer platforms have developed to expand the availability of microcredit through individual lenders in the developed world. New platforms that connect lenders to micro-entrepreneurs are emerging on the Web (peer-to-peer sponsors), for example MYC4, Kiva, Zidisha, myELEN, Opportunity International and the Microloan Foundation.

Another Web-based microlender United Prosperity uses a variation on the usual microlending model; with United Prosperity the micro-lender provides a guarantee to a local bank which then lends back double that amount to the micro-entrepreneur. In 2009, the US-based nonprofit Zidisha became the first peer-to-peer microlending platform to link lenders and borrowers directly across international borders without local intermediaries.

See also

Stock Market Crash: The End Game And Down The Rabbit Hole

For a stock market to crash, prices must fall. That is obvious. But what if stocks rise and the value of money falls? Is that a crash? If the value of money drops 30% but the market rises a little, is that a bull market?

Not many people would argue against the premise that it is the Federal Reserve’s liquidity actions that have levitated the U.S. stock market. Sadly, in an attempt to keep the whole economy from imploding it has inflated stock asset values to ridiculous levels. Jay Powell, the Fed Chairman, made it clear in a recent interview that they were committed to supporting the U.S. economy and to protecting it from the effects of anti-Covid measures, for as long as necessary and for as much as needed, and clearly indicated that would be for a long time.

This is the trend of that Federal Reserve support:

The Federal Reserve's total assets
The Federal Reserve’s total assets Credit: Federal Reserve

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(Chart courtesy of the Federal Reserve’s website)

This QE or however you want to brand this liquidity provision (liquidity equals cash, provision equals printing assets that turn into money) is clearly going to run and run for a long time because every time the Fed slackens its swapping of fresh government-backed quality assets for other people’s sketchier assets, down flops the stock market and then up pops more QE to keep the market from crashing Hindenburg-like in flames.

When the Fed tapered in 2019, down went the market and crash went peripheral global economies as U.S. dollars were sucked from the global economic plumbing. The U.S. and the world economy is hooked on the Federal Reserve’s money printing. By swapping golden government debt for other parties’ riskier, perhaps very risky, debt the Fed yanks the world’s dodgy assets holders out of the mire by their hair, thus avoiding a spiral of insolvency. The potential damage of that terrifying comeuppance is what sparks all bailouts, allowing broken companies and economies to stagger on, most likely towards even greater fragility.

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The weird thing is this: If these liquidity operations keep going on, the Federal Reserve will in effect own all its citizens’ homes and all its creditworthy (and not so creditworthy) corporate debt and thus have liens on most of the economic assets of its citizens and producers. It will have in effect nationalized, though probably by accident, the country, having bought it with government paper. 

However, if it brings this process to a halt the market will crash and everyone will instantly be a lot poorer, while if it carries on at some point it will glut the market for its paper, up will go interest rates and down will go the value of bonds and the reality of a much poorer economy will bite.

However, it seems that the Federal Reserve is not going to let the stock market crash whatever the outcome.

But if a dollar in 2023 or 2024 buys significantly less and the market hasn’t rocketed accordingly, you are getting your reset in a chronic way rather than through an acute event of a 30% retrenchment on your portfolio. This will be the aim, once again to smooth the process by spreading it out over a decade or two rather than take the pain in an awful three or so years of restructuring.

Yet make no mistake, the U.S. stock market is a house of cards, and as the Malaysians discovered when they propped up the price of tin, there is a finite nature to keeping a market away from its natural equilibrium and you must spend increasing amounts to do it. At some point you run out of credit and down goes the market to its correct level.

How long the U.S. can continue to debase its credit while maintaining its credibility is the key question in this ongoing drama and every country in its time has gone beyond that point and sunk into crisis. If the U.S. chooses to corner its markets, that time will approach rapidly. With continued QE the system will become more fragile still so to the catalyst needed to breach that fixed market corner will get smaller and smaller until the slightest of nudges will break the spell.

Inflation solves all these problems as it gives the flexibility for economic activity to rebalance as few can keep up with all the different developing prices. It creates impetus for people to get their money moving and crushes debt with negative real interest rates and also stealthily rebalances the actual value of those debts. Switching inflation on and off is a known, even though central banks ludicrously claim otherwise.

But will the stock market crash now? Hearing Jay Powell speak it appears they are prepared to die on the hill of QE. So the market will not be allowed to take its natural course. This means the market will crash but only when and if there is a downfall moment. There has to be a readjustment for a global economy that has lost at least 10% of its output with still more damage to come.

Some governments will aim for a chronic economic development while some will go for an acute one if they can shift its blame onto someone or something else.

As such, investors should pray that the new incoming U.S. administration doesn’t find a neat scapegoat to blame a reset on, to get that out of the way early in their term.

For anyone who is not a diehard buy and holder, the near future must be one where an investor’s fingers should stay hovering near that sell button because the tightrope walk the Fed is walking for the sake of the U.S. and world economy is going to be a precarious one.

Clem Chambers is the CEO of private investors website ADVFN.com and author of 101 Ways to Pick Stock Market Winners and Trading Cryptocurrencies: A Beginner’s Guide.

Chambers won Journalist of the Year in the Business Market Commentary category in the State Street U.K. Institutional Press Awards in 2018. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Clem Chambers

 Clem Chambers

I am the CEO of stocks and investment website ADVFN . As well as running Europe and South America’s leading financial market website I am a prolific financial writer. I wrote a stock column for WIRED – which described me as a ‘Market Maven’ – and am a regular columnist for numerous financial publications around the world. I have written for titles including: Working Money, Active Trader, SFO and Technical Analysis of Stocks & Commodities in the US and have written for pretty much every UK national newspaper. In the last few years I have become a financial thriller writer and have just had my first non-fiction title published: 101 ways to pick stock market winners. Find me here on US Amazon. You’ll also see me regularly on CNBC, CNN, SKY, Business News Network and the BBC giving my take on the markets.

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George Gammon

Stock market crashes and the 👉QUESTION ON YOUR MIND IS 👈..Are we now in the “end game?” This has been the fastest stock market crash, as measured by a 10% decline from a market high, in history. Worst week since 2008 global financial crisis. As we all know, the system now is much more levered and precarious. So what happens now? Does the stock market crash further? Is this the next 2008 style financial crisis? Will this lead to a recession or even a depression?

These are the questions everyone has, and they’re the questions I’ve been asking myself. In this video I’ll do my best to outline the systemic risks in the current system, why the federal reserve doesn’t have as much control as people think, and why this maybe the black swan event people have been expecting. If you’re interested in the future of the economy THIS IS A MUST WATCH VIDEO!

In this stock market crash end game video I’ll discuss the following: 1. The current systemic risks. 2. Jeff Snider’s work showing the Fed isn’t in control. 3. Is this the end game? I give you my opinion and what is the deciding factor for me. Link to Peter Schiff video from clip. Peter is one of my favorites, I’d strongly recommend checking out his channel and podcast! https://youtu.be/NjzYRtK6i_M For more content that’ll help you build wealth and thrive in a world of out of control central banks and big governments check out the videos below! 👇 🔴 Subscribe for more free YouTube tips: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpvy… Do you wanna see another video as incredible as this? Watch “Kyle Bass Predicts HSBC Collapse In 2020! (Here’s Why)”: https://youtu.be/QwjiIIht0bw Watch “Repo Market Bailout: TERRIFYING Unintended Consequences Revealed!”: https://youtu.be/-2wJWzoSjRo Watch “2008 GFC: Everything You Know Is Wrong! (Truth Revealed)”: https://youtu.be/Ku58GQ5dcKU#StocksPlummet#MarketChaos#GettingWorse?

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