Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Your Heard It Here First...And Quite Awhile Ago

Respected financial strategist Jason Trennert takes to the pages of the WSJ to say this:
Companies like Merck and McDonald's might not have the authority to tax American citizens or possess nuclear weapons, but they do possess something the federal government doesn't have—money. All can boast of dividend yields that greatly exceed what an investor can earn on 10-year U.S. Treasurys. For Merck and Chevron, the yields are greater than for 30-year government paper.
Sounds a bit like this, no?
American corporations, in general, have pared down, gotten lean, hoarded cash, and repaired balance sheets. All this while governments are straining to achieve even the most meager prudent adjustments in the face of fiscal ruin. The US government is positioning its fiscal future to resemble those European countries that today are facing a painful reckoning the likes of which we haven't seen in decades. Yet we are still supposed to operate according to the paradigm that equities should pay us a premium over lending to the US government? So I ask, "Who do you think is a safer bet - the US government or the company that makes Tide, or Tylenol, or the leading brand of toothpaste?" Would you rather hold J&J stock yielding 3.5% or get an identically yielding US Treasury? Frankly, I see less risk in any number of institutions with names like Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Proctor & Gamble, Clorox etc. In today's world, these are the less risky bets and the US government ought to pay me a premium for capital that I could otherwise tie up in the equity of these institutions.
That was from, oh, May 2010.


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