The next selection for the Inflation-Protected Income Growth Portfolio is one of the few companies in the world that has figured out how to profitably sell air: Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE:APD) . Part of a triumvirate of air chemical companies that also includes Praxair, Inc. (NYSE:PX) and Airgas, Inc. (NYSE:ARG), Air Products & Chemicals has the best overall fit among its peers for this real-money portfolio.
With a 30-year history of growing its dividend, a reasonable payout ratio, and decent forward-looking prospects, it’s the kind of company that looks capable of helping investors breathe easier. And if for some reason it doesn’t help them breathe easier financially, at least it does offer medical-grade oxygen to help them physically breathe easier.
Why it’s worth owning in the iPIG Portfolio
To earn a spot in the portfolio, a company has to pass a series of tests related to its dividends, its balance sheet and valuation, and how it fits from a portfolio diversification perspective.
1). Payment: The company’s dividend currently sits at $2.56 a share, a yield of about 2.9% based on Tuesday’s closing price.
2). Growth history: The company has raised its dividend every year for the past 30, with the most recent being a raise from $0.58 to $0.64 about a year ago.
3). Reason to believe the growth can continue: With a payout ratio of 46%, the company retains more than half of its earnings to invest for future growth. That reasonable payout ratio also gives the company flexibility to maintain its payment if that anticipated growth doesn’t materialize as quickly as hoped.
Balance sheet and valuation:
Balance sheet: A debt-to-equity ratio of around 0.9 indicates that the company does use debt, but it hasn’t overleveraged itself to the point where a near-term financial hiccup would derail it.
Valuation: The company easily passes a valuation test pioneered by none other than Benjamin Graham, the founder of value investing. That said, Graham’s equation does take interest rates into account, and today’s low rates make stock values seem cheaper than they would be in a more normal rate environment. Still, even dialing rates back up to more “normal” levels, it would look decently priced.
The previous picks for the portfolio included:
– A provider of staple foods
– A toy maker
– An electric utility
– A shipping company
– A drugstore
– A semiconductor superstar
– A two-for-one railroad special
– A medical device maker
– A supplemental insurance writer
As the first air chemicals company in the portfolio, Air Products & Chemicals fits pretty well from a diversification perspective.
Why pick it over its peers?
Still, as Air Products & Chemicals is part of that triumvirate of air chemical companies, it raises the question: Why select this company instead of one of the others? The table below shows some key measures that led to its selection:
|Company||Yield||Payout Ratio||5-Year Estimated Growth Rate||Debt-to-Equity Ratio||Price-to-Earnings Ratio|
|Air Products & Chemicals||2.9%||46%||9%||0.9||15.7|