Dear Mr. Berko: My wife and I have been reading your column for over 35 years, and we've made some good stock purchases from your recommendations. We have a $235,000 certificate of deposit that will come due soon and want to put $100,000 in a portfolio of stocks that will pay at least 6 percent, if possible. Even though we are in our mid-70s, we can afford some moderate risks. I still do some accounting and consulting work part time, and my wife sells a few short stories every year. Here's a list of eight stocks our broker gave us. From my perspective, it looks pretty good. But my wife and I would appreciate your opinions on these stocks or any suggestions you might add to this enclosed list. — SS, Durham, N.C.
Dear SS: Very interesting! I received an email last week from someone asking me to recommend "eight conservative stocks paying over 6 percent for a couple in their 70s." Your stockbroker is a weasel. He asked me for this list and then shared my recommendations with you under his signature. Hmm! So, invest $12,000 in each issue. This portfolio will yield 6.6 percent and should give you modest dividend and principal growth.
Enterprise Products Partners (EPD-$24.89) is a master limited partnership providing midstream energy services to producers and consumers of natural gas, natural gas liquids, crude oil, petrochemicals and refined products in North America. Distributions have increased annually since 2009, and the current $1.69 distribution yields 6.7 percent. Argus Research, Standard & Poor's and Thomson Reuters recommend EPD.
The Blackstone Group (BX-$32) is an alternative global asset manager (about $405 billion) for hedge funds, private-equity groups and real estate interests and provides and participates in leveraged financing. Thomson Reuters, Argus Research and Credit Suisse have "outperform" rankings on BX. The $1.76 dividend, yielding 5.4 percent, was raised from $1.56 last year. Good growth in revenues, earnings and dividends is expected for the coming few years.
New Residential Investment (NRZ-$18) is a real estate investment trust. NRZ invests in mortgage servicing, real estate securities, residential mortgage loans, consumer and corporate loans, and agency and non-agency residential mortgage securities. The $2 dividend yields 11.1 percent, has been increased annually since 2012 and may be increased again in 2018. Zacks and Thomson Reuters are bullish.
AmeriGas Partners (APU-$45) is a retail propane distributor serving 2.1 million residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial and wholesale customers from 2,066 locations in all 50 states. The $3.80 dividend yields 8.3 percent and has increased for 25 consecutive years. Bank of America, UBS and Jefferies don't like APU, but I do!
Macquarie Infrastructure Corp. (MIC-$65) is a $1.9 billion-revenue firm whose operations include airport services, contracted power and energy, natural gas distributions, and liquid storage terminals. Revenues have doubled since 2011, and the $5.40 dividend, which has increased annually since then, yields 8.7 percent. Improving net profit margins could increase the 2018 dividend to $6. Zacks, Morningstar and J.P. Morgan recommend MIC.
W.P. Carey (WPC-$70), a self-managed real estate investment trust, owns and manages 1,380 commercial real estate properties in the U.S. and Europe. The $4.02 dividend, yielding 5.7 percent, has been raised annually for 25 years. Ned Davis Research and Market Edge recommend selling WPC, while Standard & Poor's and Oppenheimer are buyers.
AmTrust Financial Services (AFSI-$10), through its subsidiaries, underwrites property and casualty insurance, workers' compensation, inland marine insurance, custom-designed coverage for accidental damage and payment protection plans, reinsurance, and professional and medical liability. AFSI has enjoyed good annual revenue, income and dividend growth since 2009. The 68-cent dividend yields 6.8 percent. Citigroup and Thomson Reuters are recommending AFSI.
IBM (IBM-$155) has been losing revenues since 2010, though since then, the dividend has grown from $2.50 to $5.90, and it yields 3.9 percent. Revenues should begin to improve, and the 2018 dividend may be raised to $6.35. Argus Research, Market Edge, Standard & Poor's, Value Line, Edward Jones, Morgan Stanley, Oppenheimer, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan and Stifel Nicolaus recommend IBM.
Because I, not your broker, picked these stocks, you should insist on a big discount. If he refuses, go to Charles Schwab. Schwab will charge you $40 to buy the whole shebang.
Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, FL 33775, or email him at [email protected] To find out more about Malcolm Berko and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.