3 dividend stocks that disappointed in 2013
Halted and slashed payouts make these income issues ones to avoid next year.
By Jim Woods
It has been a very good year for the equity markets, and dividend stocks have been no exception.
Although the year-to-date performance of the S&P 500 Index at nearly 25% has surpassed the year-to-date performance of the benchmark dividend ETF, the iShares Select Dividend Index (DVY), many stalwart dividend plays have been putting smiles on income-oriented investors' faces.
Unfortunately, this story isn't about smiling faces.
This is about the dark side of the dividend story -- particularly companies that laid a serious egg in 2013. By laying an egg, I mean these dividend stocks either suspended or severely slashed their payouts this year. That means if you bought these companies thinking you'd get income, sorry. . . you're out of luck.
Here are a few dividend stocks that turned into big disappointments in 2013.
Nokia did manage to have a good year in terms of profits in 2013, and NOK stock has also performed very well, jumping more than 90% this year.
However, Nokia isn't the same company anymore, having dumped its handset business onto Microsoft (MSFT). And again, it's no longer a dividend play. (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)
What do you do when you're essentially a print-oriented company trapped in a digital world?
If you're Pitney Bowes (PBI), you sacrifice shareholders by taking the knife to your dividend.
In late April, PBI cut its payout in half as the mail-and-document-services giant continued to struggle. Declining revenue and weaker demand for mail products meant shareholders were presented with a payout of 18.75 cents per share vs. the 37.5 cents that was delivered to their financial mailboxes before the April cut.
Including the initial dip following the company's announcement, PBI actually is up more than 30% since hacking away at its dividend. Nonetheless, I suspect the digital writing is on the wall here for Pitney Bowes. As such, if you still own PBI for the dividend, you might want to mark it "return to sender."
The final entries among the disappointing dividend stocks of 2013 all came from the gold mining sector, and as such, I didn’t want to pick on just one.
Given that 2013 was the first down year for gold in a very long time, it should come as no surprise that gold mining stocks suffered in sympathy. That suffering caused the biggest gold producer, Barrick Gold (ABX), to cut its payout, which it announced on Aug. 1. ABX also took a writedown in the previous quarter, citing slumping bullion prices.
A day earlier, Kinross Gold (KGC) suspended its semiannual dividend, and it also announced a delay in its decision on future expansion of the mill at the Tasiast mine in Africa. Finally, about a week later, AngloGold Ashanti (AU) -- the third-largest producer of the yellow metal -- suspended its dividend on poor earnings due to declining gold prices.
With the luster now off on gold, the dividend income from mining stocks also is dead.
I say scrap this dividend sector in 2014 until the shine returns, as well as these other two dividend stocks that did investors wrong.
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As of this writing, Jim Woods did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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