The 30% share price rise since 20 January, to 1,669p, has strengthened the case for buying Royal Dutch Shell (LSE: RDSB) shares — and that rise must be partly due to the attraction of its forecast dividends.
We saw the full-year dividend of 188 cents per share maintained in 2015, for a yield of 8.7% on the year-end share price, with Shell indicating that its regular quarterly dividends will continue at least to the first quarter of this year. And if such payments continue this year and next, we’ll see 8% yields on today’s price. The big question is whether Shell will keep up these payments without sufficient earnings to cover them.
Unlike rival BP, which has pledged to keep its dividends going into 2017, Shell has suggested it will keep up the payments this year but has remained tight-lipped about its plans beyond that. But I can’t help thinking the company will be reluctant to break ranks and cut the cash, especially if 2017 forecasts prove accurate and earnings are sufficient to cover the dividends once again.
I see Shell as a great income share.
Emerging markets have had a tough time of late, as anyone with shares in Aberdeen Asset Management (LSE: ADN) can tell you. With an emerging market focus, and a fair bit of its investments in China and the Asian region generally, investors have been withdrawing their funds for much of the past three years. The three months to December 2015 alone saw a £9.1bn net outflow, with the firm saying that “flows outlook remains difficult and market volatility continues“.
As a result, the share price has fallen by 48% since April 2015’s peak, to 262p, although that has also had the effect of beefing up the forecast dividend yield, to 7.3%. But it would only barely be covered by earnings, so the question is whether it will be maintained — and I’m reasonably optimistic.
When 2015 results were announced, the company upped its dividend and told us its balance sheet was looking good. It had “continued to build additional headroom over our regulatory capital requirement”, and even had enough surplus to buy back £50m in shares. With the downturn in earnings expected to end in 2017, I reckon we’re looking at a pretty good income investment here too.
The big housebuilders are often in the news, but we don’t hear so much about Telford Homes (LSE: TEF), which specialises in non-prime locations in London. Fears of overheating of prices in the capital have led to a 32% share price fall since last May’s peak, to 333p, but we’re still looking at a quadrupling over the past five years.
But what interests me here is the company’s strongly rising dividend, which has been growing well ahead of inflation — and there are further inflation-busting increases forecast for this year and the next two. In terms of yield, we’d be seeing 4.1% for this year, rising to 4.8% by March 2018, with cover by earnings comfortably in excess of 2.5 times.
The risk is that if the feared London slowdown should happen, Telford’s relatively high debt, of £50.4m at 30 September, could start to hurt. But with a significant portion of its forward sales already secured by deposits, the dividend income might still be safe. I’m cautious on this one.
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Alan Oscroft has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Aberdeen Asset Management and Royal Dutch Shell. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.