Buggy Whip Portfolio: 8% Dividend Yield With Heaps of Nostalgia, Risk
It’s a shame there aren’t more anachronistic companies out there, hanging on for dear life and paying dividends for all their worth: one might fashion a buggy whip portfolio and, through diversification, convince oneself that, as with junk bonds, a big group of 8% dividend yields might make up for the handful of stocks that go lights out.
A good start on such a fund would include Pitney Bowes (PBI), maker of postal scales, and thus inextricably tied to the slow death of the U.S. Postal Service; RadioShack (RSH), which mostly sells mobile phone service these days (and not all that successfully of late) but which remains reliant on its inventory of tiny and baffling electronics components; and R.R. Donnelley (RRD), printer of magazines and catalogs and all sorts of other things so many people under the age of 40 have no use for.
Each company currently boasts a dividend yield above 8%. That, of course, is like red meat for all the yield junkies out there. But these yields should serve as warnings more than as attractions. Each of the three companies has serious, long-term business problems that make their shares, even after declines, risky propositions for income seekers. For more on the risks of dividend yield hunting, see Jason Zweig’s smart Wall Street Journal column from Saturday.
Insistent on finding buggy-whip stocks? One could throw in a land line provider like AT&T (T), dividend yield above 5%. But not all companies threatened by change got the memo that they’re supposed to pay a rich dividend. Best Buy (BBY), getting its clock cleaned by Amazon (AMZN), even after seeing its stock price halved since early 2008, still has a miserly payout that yields less than 3%.