Soaring commodity prices, additional federal stimulus, and government bond yields on the rise are all raising the specter of inflation. Furthermore, there is growing concern that stocks – and tech ones in particular – are now at valuations disconnected from reality. Is the changing macro climate about to send the bull market into retreat? Too early to tell, but it does signal that a more prudent approach to investing might be a good move right now. And that will bring us to dividend stocks. Investors want a pad, something to protect their portfolio in case of a market drop, and dividends offer just that. These profit-sharing payments to stockholders provide a steady income stream, that typically stays reliable even in a downturn. RBC Capital analysts have been doing some of the footwork for us, pinpointing dividend-paying stocks that have kept up high yields, just above 10%. Opening up the TipRanks database, we examine the details behind those payments to find out what else makes these stocks compelling buys. Annaly Capital Management (NLY) First up, Annaly Capital Management, is a real estate investment trust (REIT). Annaly holds a portfolio of commercial real estate with a heavy focus on retail (31%) and office (29%) spaces. Other large investments include multifamily dwellings, hotels, and healthcare properties. The company has over $100 billion total assets. In the company’s 4Q20 results, Annaly showed a 5.1% economic return for Q4, far stronger than the 1.8% reported for 2020 as a whole. EPS came in at 60 cents per common share, and more than covered the regular quarterly dividend of 22 cents. This is the third quarter in a row with the dividend at that level; at the annualized rate of 88 cents per common share, the dividend is yielding 10.7%. This is head and shoulder above the ~2% yield found among peer companies in the financial sector. Annaly has a long history of adjusting its dividend payment to fit with earnings, making it a reliable payer. Also of interest to investors, Annaly finished Q4 with $8.7 billion in unencumbered assets, including cash on hand. The company used this deep pocket to authorize a $1.5 billion common stock repurchase program, in a move to return capital to shareholders and bolster share prices. RBC’s 5-star analyst Kenneth Lee likes what he sees in Annaly’s performance, writing, “We continue to favor Annaly’s diversified operating model, strong liquidity and portfolio skew towards agency MBS amid current macro backdrop… Annaly has exposure to growth-oriented, credit assets, including residential and commercial mortgage credit and middle markets lending. We believe diversification should allow NLY to pivot between attractive investment opportunities.” In line with these comments, Lee rates NLY an Outperform (i.e. Buy), along with a $9.50 price target. This figure implies a 14% upside for the year ahead. (To watch Lee’s track record, click here) Overall, there is broad agreement on Wall Street about NLY’s quality, as shown by the 7 to 1 split among the analyst reviews, favoring Buy over Hold and giving the stock a Strong Buy analyst consensus rating. The shares are currently trading for $8.22 and their $9 average price target suggests an upside potential of 9.5% from that level. (See NLY stock analysis on TipRanks) Sunoco LP (SUN) From REITs we move over to the energy industry. Sunoco LP is the largest wholesale distributor of motor fuels in the US, and supplies more than 7,300 Sunoco gas stations in 33 states. Among the company’s products are gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, jet fuel, lubricating oils, and kerosene – a full range of petroleum products, sold as both branded and unbranded products. Sunoco also controls 13 storage terminals that maintain a secure supply for delivery to retailers. At the retail end, Sunoco provides equipment to gas stations – from pumps to payment services. This company’s diversified business has allowed Sunoco to remain profitable during the corona pandemic crisis. EPS did come in negative in Q1, when demand fell at the height of the crisis, but quickly rebounded in Q2 and has shown year-over-year gains in each quarter since. Q4 EPS was 77 cents, up from 75 cents in the year-ago quarter. Distributable cash flow in the quarter was down year-over-year, from $120 million to $97 million, and the company announced a quarterly dividend of 82.5 cents per common share. This was held steady from the prior quarter – and in fact, has been held steady at this level since November 2016. Sunoco has been paying out a reliable dividend for the past 8 years. The current payment annualizes to $3.30 per share, and gives a yield of 10.6%. Covering SUN for RBC, analyst Elvira Scotto notes that the recent Arctic storm patterns in the continental US have negatively impacted sales volumes but remains buoyed by other aspects. “SUN maintained its 2021 guidance and noted improvement in volumes in January. We do not expect the recent weather conditions to have a meaningful impact to SUN’s 2021 volumes,” said the 5-star analyst. “We believe SUN shows investors sizable current income with an improved balance sheet. We expect SUN to maintain its distribution and expect distribution coverage to improve over time.” Scotto rates SUN shares an Outperform (i.e. Buy) and increased the price target from $36 to $38. The figure implies a 23% upside for the next 12 months. (To watch Scotto’s track record, click here) Overall, SUN shares have a Moderate Buy rating from the analyst consensus, based on a range of reviews including 5 Buys, 2 Holds, and 1 Sell. The shares have an average price target of $33.50, which gives an 8% upside potential from the current trading price of $31. (See SUN stock analysis on TipRanks) To find good ideas for dividend stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.
Hopes Google, Facebook deals will underpin a rise in journalism jobs
“We have seen no guarantees from the big media companies that money raised from the digital platforms will be spent on journalism,” said MEAA Media federal president Marcus Strom said last week.
“If some of this the Facebook and Google’s massive Australian revenue is now to be returned to media companies, there must be a corresponding commitment that the money is spent on news content, not dividends or corporate bonuses. The media companies must provide transparency about how they intend to allocate these funds.“
There are signs at least some companies are already progressing with plans to do just that despite challenging market conditions.
Guardian Australia is expected to take another floor in its Surry Hills office for new employees while industry sources have indicated News Corp Australia, owner of The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun, is considering hiring almost 100 journalists with the money. News Corp declined to comment.
National broadcaster the ABC has not yet signed any deals with Google or Facebook but has pledged it will use the money to invest in regional journalism.
But Nine, which owns television, radio and newspaper assets (including this masthead) has been less explicit. A spokesperson for Nine referred back to comments made publicly by chief executive Hugh Marks.
Mr Marks said at a Senate inquiry more than one week ago that if funding from tech giants wasn’t secured, job losses at Nine’s publications would continue.
Following the company’s half-year financial results last week, Mr Marks indicated the company would consider hiring new journalists. “You won’t be able to say a dollar here goes to $1 there but you can look at that business and say it’s a strong viable sustainable publishing business that will be able to support journalism going forward,” he said.
“If there are opportunities for us to employ more journalists to get a positive result then we will do that. But it certainly underpins the future of journalism in this market.”
Seven West Media chief executive James Warburton said most of the money the company expects to gain from its deals with Google and Facebook will be used for Perth based newspaper The West Australian and its regional titles. He initially said the cash would be dropped to the bottom line and be used for repayment of debt but now says it will be focused on improving the newspapers’ digital strategy.
Seven’s deal also has a YouTube component, which means some of the money will be spent on television content.
“It will support quality journalism in metropolitan, regional and community markets and underpin the digital strength and sustainability of our news businesses going forward,” Mr Warburton said.
Industry sources who are familiar with the various agreements have said that some publishers have an audio component – which requires them to invest a large amount of money in areas such as podcasting. Other companies will use the money for distribution strategies to build their digital audiences.
For smaller outlets like Junkee, the money will provide an important backbone for the business to continue its work.
“We haven’t made any definitive decisions yet about how we’ll spend the money, but this moment presents a unique opportunity for us to invest in public interest journalism,” Junkee’s editorial director Rob Stott says. “We’ll be looking at a mix of original reporting and background infrastructure that will make Junkee a more sustainable operation into the future. I’m extremely excited about the potential for this funding to make a real difference to the breadth and depth of content we produce.”
Facebook banned my perfectly harmless article – and I think I know why
You start by excluding fascists, anti-vaxxers and conspiracists. You end by banning pretty much anyone you disagree with. In recent months, Facebook has taken to labelling as fake, or removing altogether, a number of stunningly inoffensive pieces: a study by the American researcher Dr Indur Goklany claiming (quite correctly) that the number of people dying globally as a result of natural disasters was falling; a column by the investigative journalist Ian Birrell questioning whether the WHO had been too hasty in ruling out the possibility of a Wuhan leak; a report by the leading Oxford epidemiologist, Dr Carl Heneghan, of a Danish study arguing that facemasks made little difference to the spread of Covid-19.
And, now, an article of mine. Last week, I wrote a piece for the John Locke Institute (JLI), a high-minded organisation that runs summer schools and seminars, mainly for sixth-formers, offering in-depth tuition in the humanities subjects. I advanced the view that the epidemic had made us more collectivist, and that the post-lockdown world would be relatively authoritarian. The JLI bought advertising on Facebook to promote the piece. Facebook first authorised the advertisements, then pulled them without explanation.
In my case, as in all the others, it is impossible to know what the offence was. None of the pieces was making tendentious claims, let alone promoting conspiracy theories. Since Facebook offers neither explanations nor an open appeals process, we can only guess.
Are algorithms set in such a way as to screen out Right-of-centre opinions? Are they overseen by people with an explicit agenda? Is Facebook responding to pile-ons by woke activists? Is the real objection not so much to the content as to the authors?
I suspect the last. A few weeks ago, Think Scotland, a Unionist website, tried to advertise two articles critical of Nicola Sturgeon. Facebook said no on the bizarre grounds that they violated its “Vaccine Discourager” guidelines. The editor, Brian Monteith, suspecting that Facebook was being pressurised by Cybernats, experimentally tried to advertise a wholly unpolitical article about a young mother potty-training her daughter. It, too, was rejected. Eventually, after a campaign mounted by Toby Young’s Free Speech Union, Facebook backed down.
For what it’s worth, I take the view that Facebook, as a private company, can run whatever adverts it likes. But let’s be absolutely clear that it is now a publisher – a publisher with an agenda. Any notion that Facebook (or Twitter, or YouTube) is simply a platform has gone. It is one more opinionated channel, alongside Fox News, Russia Today, the BBC and the Morning Star.
What is most interesting is not the fact that Facebook has its biases – we all have biases – but what those biases are. Bizarrely for a company that was originally meant to facilitate the free flow of ideas, it has become intolerant of dissent – or, at least, of certain forms dissent. You generally won’t get into trouble for denying Stalin’s crimes, boycotting Israel or celebrating Margaret Thatcher’s death. But question whether there is excessive use of state power in enforcing lockdowns or reducing carbon emissions and you may be excluded.
Indeed, we seem to be reaching the point where simply to call for free speech is becoming dangerous. To the extent that the JLI can be said to have a collective view on anything, it believes in heterodoxy. Its founder, a former Oxford academic called Martin Cox, ensures that his summer schools and seminars hear a range of views from top lecturers, and encourages his students to engage with ideas that might initially repel them. That is, if you think about it, the essence of liberalism.
The article of mine which JLI ran, the one Facebook found intolerable, was not about Covid-19 or public health. It was about the fragility of an open society, the way a shared threat can throw people back on their tribal instincts, and the consequent likelihood that powers seized by governments on a supposedly contingent basis in 2020 won’t be relinquished when the epidemic passes.
Any organisation that sees such opinions as unacceptable is – there is no other way to put this – hostile to liberty.
Tragic reason why man tried to live stream death on Facebook
A man who threatened to live stream his own death on Facebook after he was denied euthanasia despite a viral campaign now plans to travel to Switzerland to end his life.
Alain Cocq, 57, who suffers from a disease that is so rare that it does not even have a name, says he is in a permanent state of suffering.
His case went viral in September 2020 when he threatened to live stream his death on Facebook if French President Emmanuel Macron did not change the country’s laws to allow for assisted dying.
He had to give up on his project after Facebook cut the feed, but he is still advocating for changes in law and has now decided to go to Switzerland to be able to benefit from euthanasia there.
He is applying to the authorities in the Swiss capital Berne and he hopes to receive a positive response in the coming months, if not weeks.
Cocq suffers from a rare form of disease that has been described as being similar to ischaemia, which is when a restriction in blood being supplied to live tissue causes an oxygen shortage that damages the tissue and can cause dysfunctions.
There is no cure for his condition, which will, very slowly, prove fatal.
“I want end of life to become the primary theme of the presidential elections in 2022,” he told local French newspaper 20 Minutes.
Despite his appeal to the French president in September, President Macron said he was “unable to accede to his request” despite the “profound respect” he had for him.
The retired plumber, who has been ill for 34 years, is hoping the Swiss will help him end his life after a failed attempt with the European Court of human rights in 1993 and a first petition to the French government in 1994.
At the time, he was still in a wheelchair, but after that numerous cardiovascular and cerebral accidents rendered him permanently bedridden.
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