Saturday, April 03, 2010

A Recommended Strategy to Those Who Are New to Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs)

I entered 2010 with 21 DRIPs. I bought many of my DRIPs in late 2007 and early 2008 because I was getting a discount on the broker fees due to a one time annual subscription to Direct Investing's "Money Paper." I originally felt that it was smart to get a large number of DRIPs because it would give me something to do (following the many stocks) and establishing more DRIPs would allow me to max out the broker fee discount I was getting.

I ended up buying stocks that included Manitowoc and Alcoa. Since buying these stocks, I have had little interest in carrying some of them and have recently sold Manitowoc (article that convinced me to sell) and downsized to 20 DRIPs.

Nowadays, I believe that DRIP portfolios are best suited to a small number of holdings that can be easily followed and are somewhat predictable. So, what is predictable? Very little. But, one may consider stocks with long standing track records as somewhat predictable. A good group of stocks matching this are the "Dividend Aristocrats." Dividend Aristocrats are those stocks that have established track records of increasing dividends every year for at least 25 years.

My current mood on DRIPs is to restrict any subsequent purchases to those companies that meet the following starting criteria.

* No or low fee for dividend reinvestment / ongoing monthly purchases.

Then, and only then will I start my subsequent analysis. You might say, this is pretty arbitrary. You leave out a lot of great possible investments. My answer is why buy and hold a stock for 10+ years unless it is well admired? Why buy a DRIP if it's not cheap for ongoing periodic investments? Why hold something indefinitely for the sake of future dividend income if the company doesn't hold long-term dividend growth as a principle goal?

Companies that meet these criteria:

3M Co (MMM)
Exxon Mobil (XOM)
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
Lowe's (LOW)
PepsiCo (PEP)
Wal-Mart (WMT)

* The six stock hyperlinks above send you to the "Transfer Agent" that manages each company's DRIP. Common transfer agents are Computershare, BNYMellon, Wells Fargo.

I own DRIPs in MMM, XOM, JNJ, LOW and WMT plus too many others that I wasted my time buying. I'd be happier had I restricted my DRIP portfolio to something smaller and more closely resembling this list of six.

Prior Plugged in Finance articles on DRIPs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do not recommend using a Dividend Reinvestment Plans from a company. These programs have definite disadvantages.

Dividend reinvestment is tax nightmare. When you sell your stock you have to use the price of the stock at the time of stock purchase in order to calculate the profit for your taxes. This means if you have owned stock for 10 years and reinvested 4 times per year (quarter dividend payments) you have to call the difference from purchasing and sale price over 40 times.

Keep away from DRIPs only if you intend to use dividend reinvestment in an IRA account. Only then do you not have to worry about these tax problems.