Bank of America/Merrill Lynch has made some key changes to its various US research portfolios over the last 30 days. In a research change summary the bulge-bracket firm summarized its changes for capital preservation, income, growth and income, growth, aggressive growth, and to its core portfolios. Every pick here has a dividend and the average yield is up at 2.9%.
24/7 Wall St. loves dividends. That being said, we wanted to see which were the two highest dividend yields that BofA recognizes in each of its strategies. While growth portfolios and aggressive growth portfolios of the past might not have had many dividend stocks in them, that is the rule of yesterday rather than the rule of today and tomorrow as dividends have become one of the top signs of stability whether growth is there or not.
BofA’s Capital Preservation Portfolio seeks to protect principal with some emphasis on income by focusing on stocks offering liquidity and consistency of dividend growth to provide some protection against inflation. The two top dividends are tobacco and telecom: Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) is the top dog with a 5.15% yield, but we would caution that at $34.18 it has been in the portfolio since $20.13. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is number two by yield at 4.62%, but at $44.56 its inclusion went into the portfolio at $30.41.
The Income portfolio seeks an ongoing secure income stream from dependable sources with some emphasis on protection of principal along with the potential for dividend growth as an offset against inflation. This portfolio rocks for dividend investors as the average yield is about 3.7% for this strategy. Telecom dominates here, although Altria is an overlap from above so we will leave Altria off here. BCE Inc. (NYSE: BCE) in Canada leads here at a 5.18% yield at $44.45 but it has been there in the portfolio since a price of $30.87. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is next with its 5.1% yield, but at $35.35 its addition price into the portfolio was down at $27.11.
BofA’s Income & Growth portfolio utilizes a total return approach combining income and dividend growth for inflation protection, and earnings growth for wealth accumulation. These are supposed to have less volatility than the pure growth sector. While no minimum yield is required, these stocks must provide a regular secure dividend. The average yield here dips down to 1.82% but there are still yields above 3% in the mix. Wisconsin Energy (NYSE: WEC) leads the pack here with a 3.43% yield, but we would caution that the current price of $39.70 is way above the $12.91 inclusion price into the portfolio. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) is a close second in the pack at a 3.35% yield and at $27.50 its inclusion price into this portfolio is around the same level at only $26.55. McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE: MCD) was a very close third here at 3.25%, but its inclusion price into the portfolio was at just under $60 versus the near-$95 price at current.
The Growth Portfolio does not require dividends and may not be what you generally think of as growth. The average yield is only 0.8% here because about half of the stocks pay no dividends. Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) leads the pack of the growth stocks by dividend with its 2.56% yield. At $75.89, its inclusion price was only listed as $74.03.
BofA’s Aggressive Growth portfolio is full of new economy and newer companies, and only about 40% of this portfolio even bothers to pay shareholders a dividend. The Aggressive Growth portfolio’s average yield id close enough to the Growth portfolio’s yield as it is 0.78%. There is one standout dividend here in the portfolio and that is from TAL International Group, Inc. (NYSE: TAL). This company is into leasing intermodal containers and chassis worldwide. Its yield is above 5.8%, and at $42.55 its portfolio addition price was listed as $34.26.
These dividend yields may be slightly different from what you see on general quote pages elsewhere because it is one firm’s snapshot.
Jon C. Ogg