5 Big Dividend Stocks That Were Slaughtered in January


Ouch! While the broader market started out 2012 with a bang, there are a number of companies that didn't fare too well. And while dividends are supposed to stabilize a stock's price, I'm going to show you that this isn't always the case.

Below I've covered two of the worst performers from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, two underperformers from the S&P 500, and one from the broader market. Add these stocks to your watchlist to see if a turnaround is imminent, and at the end I'll offer you access to a special free report on dividends you can actually count on.

First, our losers from the Dow
Procter & Gamble
(NYS: PG) hasn't had the worst January ever, but with a 5.25% decline in price as of Monday's close, it was the second-worst performer for the average on a price basis. The company reported earnings this month that were down a whopping 49% from a year ago.

But before you run for the exits, take note that this decline was largely due to a non-cash writedown. Without that, earnings would have been flat year-on-year, which still isn't the greatest news in the world. But investors can be comforted by the company's 3.3% dividend yield being paid out while waiting for the company to improve performance.

The worst-performing stock on the Dow Jones so far in January was Verizon (NYS: VZ) , down 6.26%. The company reported earnings that were quite confusing: a non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.52, versus a GAAP result of a loss of $0.71 per share. The major differentiator: pension costs, which rang in at $3.4 billion for the quarter. And even though the company had record revenue, the costs of subsidizing popular smartphones put a serious crimp in margins. It kind of makes you wonder if the company's 5.4% dividend is worth it.

Next, the S&P 500 laggards
(NYS: SVU) , a favorite of more than a few Motley Fool Rising Stars, didn't impress in its latest quarterly results. Not only did sales shrink in comparable stores by 2.9% from last year, the company was also forced to take a goodwill writedown because of its low share price. On the month, the stock is now 14.3% cheaper than it was on Jan. 1. But that didn't stop Motley Fool special-situations guru Jim Royal from purchasing more shares -- read why here. And if you agree with Jim, you'll also be the beneficiary of a 5% dividend yield.

Following in SUPERVALU's footsteps was the S&P 500's poorest-performing stock in January: R.R. Donnelly & Sons (NAS: RRD) . The company is in a business many believe is in the midst of a slow death: printing -- as in books and other texts. Investors panicked when it came out with updated guidance for the full 2011 fiscal year that was below analyst estimates. Shares are now down 21.3% since Jan. 1 and it might be wise to wait until the Feb. 22 earnings release before making a move on the company. Even a 9% dividend yield is worth waiting for when the underlying business of a company is in question.

One more stock behaving badly
From the thousands of stocks not listed on the S&P or Dow, my pick for poorest-performing dividend stock in January is propane provider Inergy (NYS: NRGY) . Fellow Fool Rich Smith warned all the way back in July to view Inergy's large dividend with skepticism, especially considering its relatively low free cash flow. The big blow came when Inergy announced it might have to slash its whopping 16.3% yield, sending the shares down 24% in a single day.

You're better off here
Dividend investors know that these companies are only worth investing in if the underlying businesses are sound, and the company will be able to continue paying out larger and larger dividends. In that vein, our team of analysts has put together a report just for you: "Secure Your Future With 11 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks." Inside, you'll get the names and the scoop on these 11 companies paying out solid dividends to investors. Get your copy of the report today, absolutely free!

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Brian Stoffel does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. You can follow him on Twitter at @TMFStoffel.The Motley Fool owns shares of SUPERVALU. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Procter & Gamble and buying calls in SUPERVALU. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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