It’s been a very exciting year for investors, but most would say not in a good way.
The market recently bottomed at -21.6% YTD, making it the 2nd worst start to the year in US market history.
Naturally, most investors want to know how bad will this pain get and how long will the markets fall?
Historically speaking the median bear market sees stocks fall for 8 months and we’ve been falling for five.
The average bear market decline is 11 months with the longest in history being the tech crash’s 31 months.
Looking back at every bear market since 1929, we can see that we MIGHT or might not have already bottomed, depending on whether or not we get a recession in 2023.
We’ve had three bear market rallies so far and the average recessionary bear market has four before finally bottoming.
Historically Average Bear Market Bottom
|Non-Recessionary Bear Markets Since 1965||
-21% (Achieved May 20th)
|Median Recessionary Bear Market Since WWII||
-24% (Citigroup base case with a mild recession)
|Non-Recessionary Bear Markets Since 1928||
-26% (Goldman Sachs base case with a mild recession)
|Bear Markets Since WWII||
-30% (Morgan Stanley base case)
|Recessionary Bear Markets Since 1965||
-36% (Bank of America recessionary base case)
|All 140 Bear Markets Since 1792||-37%|
|Average Recessionary Bear Market Since 1928||
-40% (Deutsche Bank, Bridgewater, Soc Gen Severe Recessionary base case)
(Sources: Ben Carlson, Bank of America, Oxford Economics, Goldman Sachs)
If we get a recession, then most blue-chip economist teams think we bottom at the usual 36% to 37% from record highs.
- Citi and Goldman think we bottom around -25% even with a mild recession
If we get a severe recession, which is Deutsche Bank’s base case (late 2023, lasting six months) then we could potentially expect a 40% decline.
- DB, Bridgewater, and Societe General expect this
Are there signs of an impending recession? They are starting to add up.
Americans’ retail spending declined in May, as consumers felt the pinch from inflation, higher gasoline prices and rising interest rates.
Retail sales—a measure of spending at stores, online and in restaurants—fell a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in May from the previous month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was the first decline in month-over-month retail spending this year.
The pullback in spending is another indicator showing the economy is losing momentum as the Federal Reserve takes action to raise interest rates and combat historically high inflation. – WSJ
Consumer spending is 70% of the US economy and we’re potentially getting the first indications of the US consumer rolling over in the face of unrelenting inflation.
- Fed rate hikes tend to take 12 to 18 months to become fully felt in the economy
- why the Fed is the one to usually put the US into a recession by hiking for too long and too much
- an unavoidable side-effect of using blunt policy tools with long lag times
The Fed is forecasting a new median consensus of 3.75% to 4% Fed funds rate for next year, agreeing with the bond market’s 4% expected terminal fund rate in March 2023.
The bond futures market is pricing in:
- 75 basis point rate hike in July
- 50 in September
- 50 in November
- 25 in December
- 25 in February
- potential final 25 in March or May
In other words, the bond market thinks the Fed is going to 3.75% or 4% compared to an estimated neutral rate of 2% to 3%.
- the Fed is expected to hit neutral in July
- and start modestly restricting growth by September
This is what the bond market and Fed expect from interest rates, what is “priced into” the current bear market.
The Biggest Risks Not Priced Into The Stock Market Today
Morgan Stanley’s base case is that stocks bottom at 3,400 in late August, the end of Q2 earnings season.
- Morgan Stanley is part of the blue-chip economist consensus
- The 16 most accurate economic teams in the world as tracked by Market Watch
Morgan Stanley doesn’t expect a recession, just earnings estimates to fall a bit.
- If they don’t, a lot of companies are likely to miss earnings causing the market to fall about 9% more
Some blue-chip economist teams disagree with MS, thinking this slowing earnings growth is already priced in (Goldman and Citi, for example).
But here’s what’s almost certainly NOT priced into the stock market today.
- Credit markets might be about to start puking
- In fact, they kind of already have
Credit default swaps are insurance policies bond investors take out against potential default. It’s the best proxy for measuring fundamental credit risk in corporate America.
And the average CDS for investment-grade companies just hit its highest level since the credit markets crashed during the Pandemic.
But corporate credit markets are merely the 3rd most important financial market.
The treasury market’s liquidity is now at its worst levels since it stopped functioning during the pandemic.
- The 2nd most important financial market on earth behind the currency market
The Fed’s new QT program just kicked in on June 15th when $15 billion in bonds matured and weren’t reinvested.
- forcing private investors to absorb that supply
US bonds mature on the 15th and 30th of each month and right now the Fed has $47.5 billion in maturing bonds (including mortgage-backed securities) maturing each month that it’s not reinvesting.
- jumping to $95 billion on September 1st
- almost 2X the previous QT record set back in 2018
- which broke credit markets
JPMorgan thinks that the Fed will have to cancel QT within months due to a lack of treasury liquidity causing all manner of chaos with bond yields.
- the US treasury still needs to issue new bonds each month
- if the treasury market breaks the US government becomes insolvent
These are risks currently not priced into the stock market, but by the end of summer, they very well could be.
- Morgan Stanley thinks we bottom in august at 3,400 on the S&P (-29.4%)
- UBS thinks stocks bottom at 3,300 sometime this year (-31.5%)
So if I’m so bearish, why am I still recommending any stocks at all?
Nobody can predict interest rates, the future direction of the economy or the stock market. Dismiss all such forecasts and concentrate on what’s actually happening to the companies in which you’ve invested. — Peter Lynch
No matter how smart the forecaster, they can only talk in terms of probabilities, not certainties.
And here’s one of the only certainties you’ll ever find on Wall Street.
Over the long-term blue-chip stocks always go up.
Not even during the Great Depression did investors lose money over 20 years, even adjusting for inflation.
Unless you think we’re headed for something worse than the Great Depression, over the long-term stocks are one of the only sure things on Wall Street.
- over the long-term
- in the short-term stock prices can go down… a lot
And that brings me to today’s recommendations. Here are eight high-yield dividend aristocrats that you can trust for generous, very safe, and steadily growing income, no matter how crazy the economy or stock market gets in the next few months.
My, Oh, My 11 High-Yield Dividend Aristocrat Very Strong Buys
Here’s how I screened for these aristocrats using the Dividend Kings Zen Research Terminal.
- reasonable buys or better
- dividend champions list (all companies with 25+ year dividend growth streaks)
- 81+ safety scores (very safe = 2% or less severe recession dividend cut risk, 0.5% average recession dividend cut risk)
- 80+ quality (SWAN quality or better)
- 3+% yield (high-yield by Vanguard’s definition)
- 10+% long-term consensus total return potential (matching the S&P or better)
I’ve linked to articles that provide a more comprehensive view of each company’s investment thesis, growth outlook, risk profile, valuation, and total return potential.
- Altria (MO)
- Enbridge (ENB)
- 3M (MMM)
- V.F. Corp (VFC)
- Novartis (NVS)
- Essex Property Trust (ESS)
- Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY)
- Fresenius Medical (FMS)
- Medtronic (MDT)
- Target (TGT)
- Stanley Black & Decker (SWK)
Here we have 11 high-yield aristocrats in six sectors, from four countries, on two continents.
These are 11 of the world’s highest quality companies, which we can see comparing them to the dividend aristocrats.
|Metric||Dividend Aristocrats||11 High-Yield Aristocrat Very Strong Buys||Winner Aristocrats||
Winner 11 High-Yield Aristocrat Very Strong Buys
|Long-Term Risk Management Industry Percentile||67%- Above-Average||75%- Good||1|
|Average Credit Rating||A- Stable||A- Stable||1||1|
|Average 30-Year Bankruptcy Risk||3.01%||2.83%||1|
|Average Dividend Growth Streak (Years)||44.3||41.0||1|
|Average Return On Capital||100%||173%||1|
|Average ROC Industry Percentile||83%||87%||1|
|13-Year Median ROC||89%||95%||1|
(Source: Dividend Kings Zen Research Terminal)
On nearly every metric, these 11 high-yield Ultra SWANs beat the aristocrats, which many consider the bluest of blue-chips.
They have an average dividend growth streak of 41 years.
- more than 2X the Ben Graham standard of excellence (20+ years)
Their average return on capital is 173% over the past year, compared to the aristocrat’s 100%.
- S&P 500 ROC is 14.6%
Joel Greenblatt, one of the greatest investors in history, considers ROC to be his gold standard proxy for quality and moatiness.
- these aristocrats have ROC in the top 13% of their peers
- confirming a wide moat
- their 13-year median ROC of 95% is trending higher confirming a wide and stable/improving moat
S&P rates their average credit rating A-stable, matching the aristocrats.
Their average 30-year bankruptcy risk according to S&P is 2.8%, slightly better than the dividend aristocrats.
And their average 4.1% yield isn’t just nearly 3X higher than the S&P 500, it’s one of the safest 4% yields on earth.
|Rating||Dividend Kings Safety Score (162 Point Safety Model)||Approximate Dividend Cut Risk (Average Recession)||
Approximate Dividend Cut Risk In Pandemic Level Recession
|1 – unsafe||0% to 20%||over 4%||16+%|
|2- below average||21% to 40%||over 2%||8% to 16%|
|3 – average||41% to 60%||2%||4% to 8%|
|4 – safe||61% to 80%||1%||2% to 4%|
|5- very safe||81% to 100%||0.5%||1% to 2%|
|11 High-Yield Aristocrat Very Strong Buys||93%||0.5%||1.40%|
|Risk Rating||Low-Risk (75th industry percentile risk-management consensus)||BBB stable outlook credit rating 7.5% 30-year bankruptcy risk||
20% OR LESS Max Risk Cap Recommendation (Each)
(Source: Dividend Kings Research Terminal)
In the average recession since WWII, the average risk of these aristocrats cutting their dividends is about 0.5%.
In a severe recession, on par with the Pandemic or Great Recession, it’s about 1.4%.
According to six rating agencies, their average long-term risk management is in the top 25% of their respective industries, the 75th percentile.
|Classification||Average Consensus LT Risk-Management Industry Percentile||
|S&P Global (SPGI) #1 Risk Management In The Master List||94||Exceptional|
|Strong ESG Stocks||78||
Good – Bordering On Very Good
|11 High-Yield Aristocrat Very Strong Buys||75||Good|
|Foreign Dividend Stocks||75||Good|
|Low Volatility Stocks||68||Above-Average|
|Master List Average||62||Above-Average|
|Monthly Dividend Stocks||60||Above-Average|
(Source: DK Research Terminal)
Ok, so now that we know these are indeed some of the world’s safest and most dependable companies, here’s why you might want to buy them today.
Wonderful Companies At Wonderful Prices
The S&P 500 trades at 16X forward earnings and 5% historical discount.
These Ultra SWAN aristocrats trade at 13.4X earnings and a 28% historical discount.
Dividend Kings Rating Scale
|Quality Score||Meaning||Max Invested Capital Risk Recommendation||Margin Of Safety Potentially Good Buy||Strong Buy||Very Strong Buy||
|3||Atrocious, Very High Bankruptcy Risk||0%||NA (avoid)||NA (avoid)||NA (avoid)||
|4||Terrible, High Bankruptcy Risk||0%||NA (avoid)||NA (avoid)||NA (avoid)||
|5||Very Poor||0%||NA (avoid)||NA (avoid)||NA (avoid)||
|6||Poor (very speculative)||0.5%||45%||55%||65%||75%|
|7||Below-Average, Fallen Angels (speculative)||1.0%||40%||50%||60%||70%|
|8||Average (Relative to S&P 500)||2.5% (unless speculative or high risk than 1.0%)||30% to 40%||40% to 50%||50% to 60%||
60% to 70%
|9||Above-Average||5% (unless speculative or high risk than 2.5%)||25% to 35%||35% to 45%||45% to 55%||
55% to 65%
|10||Blue-Chip||7.5% (unless speculative or high risk than 2.5%)||20% to 30%||30% to 40%||40% to 50%||
50% to 60%
|11||SWAN (a higher caliber of Blue-Chip)||10% (unless speculative or high risk than 2.5%)||15% to 25%||25% to 35%||35% to 45%||
45% to 55%
|12||Super SWAN (exceptionally dependable blue-chips)||15% (unless speculative or high risk than 2.5%)||10% to 20%||20% to 30%||30% to 30%||
40% to 50%
|13||Ultra SWAN (as close to perfect companies as exist)||20% (unless speculative or high risk than 2.5%)||5% to 15%||15% to 25%||25% to 35%||
35% to 45%
That makes them potentially very strong buys for any long-term investor comfortable with their risk profiles.
Analysts expect 31% total returns in the next year.
- their fundamentals and expected growth justify a 46% total return
Ok, so we have some of the world’s safest, most dependable, and highest quality high-yield blue-chips.
And here’s why they are worth owning for the long-term.
Long-Term Return Fundamentals That Can Help You Retire In Safety And Splendor
These 4.1% yielding aristocrats are expected to grow at 8.5% annually, and potentially deliver 12.6% long-term returns.
- adjusting for the risk of not growing as expected and the bond market’s long-term inflation expectations, 6.1% risk and inflation-adjusted expected returns
- vs 4.7% for the S&P 500
This means that you can realistically expect these aristocrats to double your inflation-adjusted wealth every 12.5 years.
- vs 15.4 years for the S&P 500
|Investment Strategy||Yield||LT Consensus Growth||LT Consensus Total Return Potential||Long-Term Risk-Adjusted Expected Return||Long-Term Inflation And Risk-Adjusted Expected Returns||
10-Year Inflation And Risk-Adjusted Expected Return
|11 High-Yield Dividend Aristocrat Very Strong Buys||4.1%||8.50%||12.6%||8.8%||6.4%||1.85|
|10-Year US Treasury||3.5%||0.0%||3.5%||3.5%||1.0%||1.10|
(Source: DK Research Terminal, FactSet)
This combination of very safe 4% yield and aristocrat and market-beating return potential is one of the best high-yield options you can buy in this bear market.
What does this potentially mean for you?
Inflation-Adjusted Consensus Total Return Forecast: $1,000 Initial Investment
|Time Frame (Years)||7.6% CAGR Inflation-Adjusted S&P Consensus||8.4% Inflation-Adjusted Aristocrats Consensus||10.1% CAGR Inflation-Adjusted 11 High-Yield Aristocrat Very Strong Buys Consensus||Difference Between Inflation-Adjusted 11 High-Yield Aristocrat Very Strong Buys Consensus Vs S&P Consensus|
(Source: DK Research Terminal, FactSet)
Analysts think these aristocrats could potentially deliver 18X inflation-adjusted returns over the next 30 years.
|Time Frame (Years)||Ratio Aristocrats/S&P Consensus||Ratio Inflation–Adjusted 11 High-Yield Aristocrat Very Strong Buys Consensus|
(Source: DK Research Terminal, FactSet)
That’s 2X what they expect from the S&P 500 and significantly more than the dividend aristocrats as well.
What evidence is there that these aristocrats can deliver close to 12% to 13% long-term returns?
Historical Returns Since December 1996 (Annual Rebalancing)
The future doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes. – Mark Twain
Past performance is no guarantee of future results, but studies show that blue-chips with relatively stable fundamentals over time offer predictable returns based on yield, growth, and valuation mean reversion.
So here’s how these aristocrats have performed over the last 26 years when over 91% of returns were the result of fundamentals, not luck.
These aristocrats delivered 11.6% long-term returns over the last quarter-century, beating the S&P 500 by 3% per year and with 1.3% lower annual volatility.
They delivered 9X inflation-adjusted returns, more than 2X better than the S&P 500.
Their average 15-year rolling return was 12.6% vs 12.5% long-term consensus today.
Their average 15-year rolling return was 5.5% better than the S&P 500.
In most major market crashes they outperformed by falling significantly less.
- -19% during the tech crash
- -38% during the Great Recession
These aristocrats’ bear market actually began in August of 2021 and they are down 23% so far, about the same as the S&P 500.
- that’s why they potentially very strong buys and I’m recommending them today
What about income growth, the reason for owning aristocrats in the first place?
|Portfolio||1997 Income Per $1,000 Investment||2021 Income Per $1,000 Investment||Annual Income Growth||Starting Yield||2021 Yield On Cost|
|11 High-Yield Aristocrat Very Strong Buys||$28||$697||14.33%||2.8%||69.7%|
(Source: Portfolio Visualizer Premium)
These aristocrats delivered almost 2X the annual income growth of the S&P 500, turning a 2.8% yield in 1997 into a 70% yield on cost in 2021.
What about future income growth?
|Analyst Consensus Income Growth Forecast||Risk-Adjusted Expected Income Growth||Risk And Tax-Adjusted Expected Income Growth||
Risk, Inflation, And Tax Adjusted Income Growth Consensus
(Source: DK Research Terminal, FactSet)
Analysts expect slightly better income growth in the future, of 15.4% per year.
Adjusted for the risk of these companies not growing as expected, inflation, and taxes that’s a 6.6% real expected income growth rate.
Now compare that to what they expect from the S&P 500.
|Time Frame||S&P Inflation-Adjusted Dividend Growth||S&P Inflation-Adjusted Earnings Growth|
|1981-2021 (Modern Falling Rate Era)||2.8%||3.8%|
|2008-2021 (Modern Low Rate Era)||3.5%||6.2%|
|FactSet Future Consensus||2.0%||5.2%|
(Sources: S&P, FactSet, Multipl.com)
What about a 60/40 retirement portfolio?
- 0.5% consensus inflation, risk, and tax-adjusted income growth.
In other words, these high-yield aristocrat very strong buys offer:
- almost 3X the market’s yield (and a much safer yield at that)
- 3.3X its long-term inflation-adjusted consensus income growth potential
- 12.4X better long-term inflation-adjusted income growth than a 60/40 retirement portfolio
This is the power of high-yield ultra-swan dividend aristocrat bargain hunting in a bear market.
Bottom Line: These Are 8 High-Yield Aristocrats You’ll Want To Own In The Next Market Freak-out
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not predicting doomsday for the stock market.
- permabear forecasts for 60% to 90% stock market crashes are almost certainly going to be proven wrong.
However, increased volatility is certainly possible, especially surrounding quad witching option expirations.
- $3.2 trillion in options expire on Friday, June 17th
- Friday and Tuesday could see intense volatility
- especially to the downside
The good news is that the world’s best companies, with strong brands, excellent management, and fortress balance sheets, have little to fear from the major economic risks we face today.
MO, ENB, MMM, VFC, NVS, ESS, RHHBY, FMS, MDT, SWK, and TGT represent 11 high-yield aristocrat very strong buys.
And while I can’t tell you when the bear market will end, here’s what I can tell you with very high confidence.
- 4.1% very safe yield
- about 1.4% average risk of a dividend cut in severe recessions
- A- average credit rating and 2.8% long-term bankruptcy risk
- 8.4% long-term growth consensus
- 12.5% long-term consensus return potential vs 12.5% average 15-year rolling return since 1996
- 28% historically undervalued, 13.4X earnings
- analysts expect 31% total returns within a year
- fundamentals justify up to a 46% total return within a year
- overall 1% lower annual volatile compared to the S&P 500
If your goal is to buy the world’s safest companies and sleep well at night in all economic and market conditions, these 11 very strong Ultra SWAN aristocrat buys are potentially good to great choices.
If you are tired of fretting over the Fed, interest rates, inflation, or this bear market’s intense volatility, then maybe it’s time to embrace the safest of the safe, and the bluest of blue-chips.
When inflation is raging and markets are crashing, there’s nothing like deep value high-yield Ultra SWAN dividend aristocrats to safeguard your hard-earned savings.
Not just preventing damaging permanent losses in a given downturn, but most importantly helping you achieve your long-term financial goals.
When you harness the power of undervalued high-yield Ultra SWAN aristocrats like these, retiring in safety and splendor isn’t a matter of luck, just time, discipline, and patience.
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. – Roman Philosopher Seneca the Younger