Tarnished Greece Won’t Sully Clorox’s Sparkling Dividend
November 04, 2011 – by Richard Band
Fortunately, the news from back home has been considerably more upbeat. Thursday morning, the Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims dropped by 9,000 in the week ended Oct. 29 to 397,000. Any number below 400,000 suggests that more workers are being hired than laid off — a positive for overall economic growth.
With Thursday’s bounce above 12,000 for the Dow, that prognosis continues to unfold.
However, I caution you not to get carried away as share prices climb. Already, I’m picking up signs that the sky is definitely not the limit for this resurgence.
Corporate insiders are taking advantage of the market bounce to sell at a brisk pace. In the past week, officers and directors of America’s publicly traded businesses executed six sell transactions in their companies’ stock for every purchase. That compares with a normal ratio of between 2- and 3-to-1.
It will take several more weeks of heavy selling before the insiders flash a red light. By early to mid-December, though, if present trends remain in force, we could be looking at another significant market top.
Be careful with new stock purchases. Insist on real, tangible evidence of value, such as an abnormally low P/E ratio or an aberrantly high dividend yield.
One stock with a particularly tempting dividend right now is Clorox (NYSE:CLX). During the spring and summer, takeover speculation swirled around the maker of bleach, Glad bags and Brita water-filtration systems.
At one point, activist investor Carl Icahn actually proposed buying the company for $80 per share.
However, Icahn has since backed away, and the takeover groupies have exited the stock. The resulting decline in the share price presents an opportunity for patient, long-term investors like me.
Clorox has many of the attributes I’m seeking. It’s a collection of steady, recession-resistant businesses — and get a load of that dividend! At Thursday’s closing price, the stock paid 3.7%. For every dollar invested in CLX, you’ll collect about 80% more income than you would with a 10-year Treasury note.
What’s more, CLX has raised its dividend 34 years in a row, with the latest increase (last May) a healthy, inflation-beating 9%.