Capital One (COF) today joined the growing list of major corporations drastically cutting their dividends. In fact, since the start of 2009, $40.8 billion less in dividend income will flow to investors thanks to dividend cuts by 41 corporations so far. Dividend cuts in the first quarter of 2009 total more than in all of 2008, when dividend income cuts by 61 companies meant shareholder income dropped $40.6 billion.
"We expect decreases to continue as companies take the prudent steps to preserve cash that assist in their ability to ride out the recession," Howard Silverblatt, senior analyst at S&P, told the Los Angeles Times. He expects more cuts are coming.
But, with careful shopping you can find good income generators with dividend paying companies. The key is to find companies that are in a strong enough cash position to be able to ride out the economic storm.
Some companies still paying dividends and which continue to increase their dividend include:
- Chevron (CVX), whose annual dividend is $2.60 per share, 6% yield.
- Essex Property Trust (ESS), whose annual dividend is $4.09 per share, 7.5% yield.
- Exxon Mobil (XOM), whose annual dividend is $1.60 per share, 2.4% yield.
- General Dynamics (GD), whose annual dividend is $1.40 per share, 3.2% yield.
- Piedmont Natural Gas (PNY), whose annual dividend is $1.04, 4.3% yield.
- WGL Holdings (WGL), whose annual dividend is $1.42, 4.7% yield.
If you need income from your stocks, you can still find some strong candidates out there, but be sure you look not only at the dividend yield but also at a company's cash position. If you see a yield that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Once the company faces reality that it can't keep paying that level of dividends and make it through the current economic storm, the dividends will be cut.
Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books, including Trading for Dummies and Reading Financial Reports for Dummies.