Barring a real financial earthquake, this will be the ninth year of rising interest rates since 1992.
2013 will also be the eighth of those nine that utilities and other dividend paying stocks finished in the black. The only exception was 1994, when deregulation fears upended electricity and communications.
Utilities also rose eight years when rates fell. All their biggest declines, however, were during years of falling interest rates, particularly 2008.
Utility stock prices ultimately reflect the health of underlying companies. Stocks of financially healthy companies with growing dividends always move higher. But when an economic calamity brings interest rates lower quickly, they can drop in a hurry.
Taper talk is heating up again as Federal Reserve Chairman-in-waiting Janet Yellen’s fate is debated on Capitol Hill. Rate hike speculation, however, is having much less impact on essential services stocks than it did this past spring. And one big reason is strong third quarter results.
Taper talk is rife again in the financial media. And the all-too-familiar consensus is still that the Federal Reserve will abandon cheap money in the near future, driving up interest rates and sending dividend-paying stocks plummeting.
PVR Partners (NYSE: PVR) earns an exit from my Endangered Dividends List this month. The catalyst was not third quarter earnings results, but the acquisition by Regency Energy Partners (NYSE: RGP) for 1.02 Regency units and a cash payment to be determined at close in first quarter 2014.
AT&T Inc (NYSE: T) was the only Conrad’s Utility Investor Portfolio pick to report numbers last week. Takeaway one is quite positive: The results followed closely those of arch-rival and co-Big Two US communications company Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ).
RWE AG (Germany: RWE, OTC: RWEOY) plans to cut its 2014 annual dividend (payable April 17) to one euro, from a previous rate of 2 euros. That’s the third dramatic cut in five years for the German power giant. And it may not be the last, given some uniquely challenging conditions.
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Roger's current take and vital statistics on more than 200 essential-services stocks.