Jan 10 2016

2015: The Year In Review

2015: The Year in Review
Wow, is it 2016 already? 2015 is over? Jeez, the months flew by. It seems like just last week that I was enjoying the summer sunshine and putting in some vacation time in Central and Southern Oregon, and Cancun. On the other hand, time seemed to crawl when anticipating the dividend payouts for each new month or quarter. Somebody should invent weekly dividend payouts, as I’m sure that would be quite popular.

So how was 2015 in my quest for dividend income? Overall, it was a pretty good year. For comparison, let’s also look at the past eight years of dividend income since I began in 2008:
2008 $ 251.63
2009 $1349.98
2010 $3453.20
2011 $4074.18
2012 $4086.27
2013 $4513.42
2014 $5780.63
2015 $7361.25

The end of 2015 marks two years of strong and steady dividend income growth. 2014 saw a 28.1% increase over 2013, and 2015 saw a 27.3% increase over 2014. That is pretty damn good. But I don’t expect 2016 to see the same level of growth, as there will be no more employer stock grants or stock options to cash out, and almost no employer stocks left. So those sources of capital have run dry and won’t be available again. The only capital that now funds new stocks buys are dividends and my matching program’s money. Future growth won’t be what it was, but it shouldn’t be too bad either. My rough guess is approximately 20%, which is still good.

Here’s 2015’s performance for each quarter:
Q1 $1714.88
Q2 $1827.42
Q3 $1869.56
Q4 $1949.39

Overall, 2015 saw good dividend income growth from quarter to quarter. Nice!

The past year did have some unpleasant changes to my portfolio and dividend payouts. In January, CFP cut its dividend from 30.92 cents to 28.58 cents (a 7.56% cut), and then a few months later Cornerstone converted CFP stock to CLM, which cut the monthly dividend payouts a hair. RSO also had its issues, first with a dividend cut from 20 cents per share to 16, and then in July with a 4:1 reverse split (fortunately the dividend was unscathed in the change). I made a speculative buy on CTCM and only enjoyed one dividend payout before I had to sell off a large majority of my CTCM stock as the price rapidly plunged and it ceased dividend payouts. I’m hopeful that when the Russian economy eventually recovers, so will CTCM. In September, NCV cuts its dividend 18%, from 9 cents per share to 6.5 cents. December saw minor dividend cuts to DMF, HQL, and VFL. As I have said before, my progress has been a “four steps forward, one step back” process and 2015 has proven that to be especially true.

What were my biggest mistakes in 2015? Buying AWP and CHW were certainly blunders, as I wasn’t diligent enough to learn that their dividend payouts were mostly ROC (Return of Capital), which I usually try to avoid or at least minimize. I lost money on CTCM, but at least I sold off the majority of my CTCM shares before the stock price fell even further. July was the only month I didn’t make a stock buy, which enabled me to save some cash for August’s stock buys. Unfortunately my August buys were ill-timed as the market dropped sharply from August 19-25. Prescience is not a skill I have developed.

What did I get right in 2015? By sticking with my dollar-for-dollar matching program through most of the year, I effectively doubled my dividend income growth rate. I’m still not sure how sustainable this is when my dividend income grows at approximately 20% annually and my paycheck only increases 3% annually.

As for this site, in 2015 I failed to write more posts that weren’t just the usual monthly dividend income reports, stock buys, and stock sales. I wrote only 3 such posts (The Top 5 Dividend Advantages, The Top 3 Dividend Disadvantages, and Turkey Layoffs Continue). I’ll work to do better this year, as I have many post topics I’d like to share. On a more positive note, the Turkey Layoffs post got a mention on Rockstar Finance which resulted in 1000+ views in one day. Wow. Since then my regular visitor stats have gone up a bit, so the Rockstar Finance exposure added a few more regular visitors. To you dear reader, I say this: Thank you! I know I’m just one of many investing blogs, and I really appreciate your interest and I hope you find value in my site. Don’t hesitate to comment and/or contact me directly.

Finally, what about the future? For dividend investing, I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing, but I would like to venture into non-ETF/CEF stocks for additional diversification. The matching program will continue, but like in 2015, I’m sure there will be some tight months and I won’t be able to match dollar-for-dollar. For this site, I have ideas for additional features and changes, but the challenge is to find the energy and time to implement those ideas.

If you’re a dividend investor, then may your quest for greater dividend income reaches new highs in 2016!

Image Credit: skeeze (pixabay.com)