When a Dividend Increase Really Isn’t

As a kid I enjoyed a good riddle every now and again but as the years went by thought I’d outgrown them to a large degree.  Until now.  One of the companies in my portfolio announced a dividend.  In reviewing the announcement (specifically the SEC 6-K filing), I noticed the dividend amounted to an increase of 13.16%.  Not shabby – in fact it exceeds the average of my portfolio (12.08% current).  So imagine my surprise to find the amount to be credited resulted in a 15.23% reduction!  Hmm … kind of blows away the increase, doesn’t it?   Of course I had to investigate – it appears like that’s what I seem to do.

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Trump-World

Inside this feeble brain resides a significant amount of skepticism.  Perhaps from age or maybe the result of life’s encounters – the result is there is a difficulty in accepting anything at face value.  Especially when it’s a moving target – otherwise known as a changing story line.  Another case in point is the curious case of ZTE (ZTCOY) which exploded into our consciousness in major form this past week due – in no small part – to tweets from the president.

To set the stage, ZTE agreed to enter a guilty plea and pay a fine to settle a 2017 case that they violated export sanctions by shipping products with US components to Iran.  On April 16, 2018 the Commerce Department enacted a ban on American companies conducting business with ZTE for seven years  as a result of ZTE allegedly breaching said settlement.  In addition, the US military had previously raised concerns of potential espionage by ZTE’s equipment on or near military bases.

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M1 Finance


M1-Finance

I was sorely disappointed when the Loyal3 investing platform was absorbed into FolioFirst last year.  Sure it had disadvantages and limitations (limited number of stocks, only batch trade) but as in life, you get what you pay for.  A transaction fee of $0 for a buy, $0 for a sale was nothing to sneeze at. With the monthly service fee FolioFirst wanted I figured I’d be ahead in the game by just transferring my shares to my regular broker and paying their $4.95 fee as needed (which isn’t monthly purchases with this group of stocks).  I did look at other alternatives (RobinHood, Stockpile, WiseBanyan) but each had their own drawbacks to my way of thinking.

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Takeda/Shire Merger

This morning, the long-rumored merger between Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd (TPKYY) and Shire plc (SHPG) has been approved by both companies boards for the consideration of $30.33 in cash and either .839 shares stock or 1.679 ADS for each Shire share.  (Takeda’s current NYSE listing is at a 2:1 ratio, hence the differential).  Shire shareholders will also be entitled to dividends paid or declared through the merger effective date.

The combination is expected to complete in the first half of 2019 and will result (I believe) in the eighth largest pharma company.  Takeda expects to maintain both its’ dividend policy and investment grade rating.

My investment came about via Baxter’s spin of Baxalta which was subsequently acquired by Shire.  The overall investment is currently a little under water but the cash portion of this deal should mitigate this to a degree.  Apparently a major concern is that some large holders don’t care to hold Japanese paper.  Although Japan’s monetary policy (and resulting exchange rate) is a potential issue, my belief is that the combined company will have enough of a worldwide footprint to offset this.

Therefore I favor this deal and expect to increase my Shire holdings enough to avoid a weird fractional allocation of shares based on the merger terms.

Apr 2018 Update

The month was relatively crazy with geopolitics driving the highs and domestic lunacy driving the lows.  In between were relatively strong earnings and interest rates inching higher driving the question of the bull market sustainability.  Personally, I’m not overly concerned yet but Marco Rubio‘s “implication that Republicans have found no good answer to the problems Mr Trump described is irrefutable.” may be an omen of things to come.   Meanwhile, I took advantage of some dips and stayed the course.  April saw the S&P rise 0.27% and my portfolio outperformed the index by registering a rise of 0.65%! YTD I still lag the S&P by 0.43%.

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The First Job

My granddaughter got a job.  Her first job – outside of babysitting.  She’s finding that responsibility now has a much broader meaning with planning, scheduling and developing her work ethic.  She’s certainly experiencing a rude awakening insofar as her sleep schedule is concerned.  Gone are the days of Snap chatting until the wee hours of the morning and being able to function at peak performance.

While she doesn’t have a burning desire to obtain her driver’s license (preferring to be chauffeured), she’s one of the first in her peer group to become employed.  While some of her friends were looking to become summer camp staff, her ordered list of priorities included:

  • Air conditioned
  • No cleaning of bathrooms
  • Preferably, not food service
  • Starting wage greater than minimum wage
  • Slight schedule flexibility regarding school events

These goals were met and a job offer provided during her very first interview.  Ever.  (If you can’t tell, I’m a proud grandpa)  🙂

Since she is Gen-Z kid, I had to do a little research on her nature and whether it is atypical for her generation.  In George Beall‘s Huffington Post article, the eight characteristics compared, (Gen-Z to millennials), fit her to a T.  While this job may only be fleeting (likely entrepreneur?), I was flat out shocked that she received Day 1 eligibility (auto enrolled) to her companies’ 401K with a 50% match.    Back in my day there was a two year wait for  eligibility.  Talk about a game changer.  She may experience a roll-over years before I ever did.

The one negative is the limited selection for investment options, but I consider the match an offset to this.  Plus there is profit sharing.  As a private company there are no stock purchase options.

If you ask her, she’ll swear I always look to profit from all the angles.  She could only shake her head and groan when I pointed out her retirement plan was provided by a subsidiary of Great-West Life which in turn is 66% owned by one of my companies – Power Corp. of Canada.

Proxy Time!

It’s the time of year when winter is but a memory (for most of us), taxes have been filed and proxies are filling our mailboxes.  As I review the filings and determine how to cast my votes, I’m struck with one of these off-the-wall thoughts that hit me every now and again.  I wondered how much was earned – and the margins derived – via the annual proxy season. I didn’t delve into the number of trees sacrificed though I’ll wager it’s fewer than before electronic transmissions.

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