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Do You Want Fries With That? Dear Mr. Berko: My 16-year-old son has saved up over $6,000 in the past two years from part-time jobs and wants to invest this money. He has done some research on the computer, and his investment of choice is McDonald's. I also looked it up and read …Read more. Avon Lady Dear Mr. Berko: I've been using Avon's soaps, skin care lotions and fragrances almost forever, and my neighbors and I believe that the company's products are just as good or better than those of Revlon, L'Oreal and others. So I bought 200 shares in …Read more. Foreign ETFs Dear Mr. Berko: My new broker recommended Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish exchange-traded funds for me, which I have listed here. What can you tell me about investing in those countries? I know what an ETF is but hope you can explain the terms "…Read more. A Smokin' Stock Dear Mr. Berko: Several places in New York and New Jersey have increased the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21, which is expected to sharply reduce smoking by our young people. Our 17- and 19-year-old boys smoke, and such a law here would …Read more.
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High-Dividend-Paying Stocks

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Dear Mr. Berko: I want to take a modest gamble with about $21,000 and would like to buy some high-dividend-paying stocks that you think have a chance of maintaining or increasing their dividends as well as the value of the stock price. A broker who was recommended to me said that my idea of buying high-dividend stocks was suicide. He said that the dividends are high because the company is on its last legs and could easily collapse in price or even go out of business. He suggested that I invest in penny stocks that sell for under a dollar a share. He said I could buy 25,000 shares like CCTC at 12 cents a share for $3,000, and if the stock moves up 10 cents in a week or two weeks, I would clear $2,500 and almost double my money. He showed me many stocks that he bought for clients that have increased tenfold in value. Please advise me. — D.R., Mount Clemens, Mich.

Dear D.R.: Of course you know that the reason penny stocks sell for pennies is because pennies are what they are worth. I think that broker ought to petition the court to have himself legally declared as a cockroach. This cur is dangerous to your wealth. Penny stocks are for penny brains whose total sum of knowledge and expertise is worth a cooper.

Many folks claim they've made big scores in the penny stock market, and many have. However, those penny brains never tell you of the numerous huge losses they absorbed in order to earn bragging rights for just one score. And it's been my experience that penny-stock buyers enormously inflate the profits they brag about.

Meanwhile, the following three high-yielding stocks have a better-than-even chance of maintaining their high dividends, growing their businesses and improving their stock values.

Cellcom Israel (CEL — $33.05) is one of three cell phone companies in Israel, but seems to have technical superiority over the other two.

CEL's system does everything BlackBerry, blueberry and the iPhone and iPod do, including push to talk, Internet connectivity, SMS and MMS services, animation messages and interactive protocols. CEL had $1.7 billion 2009 revenues, and with net profit margins of 17.6 percent, the company earned $3.12 per share. The $2.72 dividend yields 8.0 percent.

Winstream Communications (WIN — $10.41) is a specialty phone company that provides landline, Internet, long distance, network access and video service to 3.2 million customers in the very rural areas across 16 American states. This $3.1 billion revenue company has a 13 percent net profit margin, and its $1.00 dividend yields 9.6 percent.

Finally, Century Telephone (CTL-$34.76), with $7.1 billion in revenues, trades at just a buck above its $32 book value. CTL, which acquired Pacific Telecom (an AT&T spinoff) in 1997, is the fourth-largest phone company in the U.S. It boasts a blue chip balance sheet and sound finances. CTL has 10 years of consecutive earnings growth, and its 15 percent net profit margins allow it to pay a $2.90 dividend that yields 8.65 percent.

Put these three in your Meerschaum and enjoy an 8.5 percent or better average annual dividend return on your investment. Then sit back, smoke your pipe and wait for CEL, WIN and CTL to eventually rise in value.

Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, FL 33775 or e-mail him at mjberko@yahoo.com. To find out more about Malcolm Berko and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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