Thursday, April 4, 2013

Monthly Review: March 2013

Here is a review of what happened in March:

Dividends: I received a total of $222.71 in dividends from the following stocks:
  • BDX: $12.38
  • CMI: $7.50
  • CVX: $18.00
  • INTC: $42.75
  • JNJ: $21.35
  • MCD: $38.50
  • MSFT: $12.65
  • NSC: $47.50
  • UTX: $13.38
  • VFC: $8.70
This represents a 100.9% increase compared with the same month a year ago, making it the second month in a row with a year-over-year doubling of my dividends. It is also the second time I have exceeded $200 in monthly dividends. Going forward, I will reach that mark every March, June, September, and December due to a large number of companies paying in those months. My year-to-date dividend total is now $475.94.

Dividend Increases: I was pleased to see dividend increases announced for two stocks (click on each stock to see my post about the increase):
  • GD: 9.8% increase, $4.00 more in annual dividend income
  • GIS: 15.2%, $14.00
The increase from GIS was much larger than I expected, which is great. Thus far this year, there have been dividend increases for 14 of the 28 dividend growth stocks in my portfolio. The mean increase has been 9.6%.

Savings: This month I saved $1,511 (52.0%) of my net job income, which is satisfactory. I did not have any unexpected expenses during the month, although I've noticed that my food expenditures have increased over the past few months. Thus far this year, my mean monthly savings has been $1,448 (49.8%).

Transactions: I bought two stocks during the month (click on each transaction to see my post about it): Both purchases were for my Roth IRA, using up the rest of the cash from my 2012 contribution. I was particularly pleased to start a position in ROST, which is a stock I have wanted to own for a long time and has great potential as a long-term, total return investment. These purchases will increase my annual dividend income by $91.00. My forward 12-month dividend total is now $2,387.

Portfolio: My portfolio (taxable account and Roth IRA together) currently consists of 28 stocks and has a market value of $82,205.23 (including cash), which is a 5.1% increase over last month's value. I did not add any new capital to my accounts in March because my February savings were used to pay back money I borrowed from my external cash reserve to make my 2012 Roth IRA contribution in one shot. Thus, this month's increase in portfolio value is completely due to capital gains and dividends, which is quite impressive.

Seeking Alpha: This month I published two new articles on the investing website Seeking Alpha: Both articles had good receptions, each garnering over 11,000 page views (well above the site average). I earned $243.46 from page views in March, which is my highest monthly total since I started writing for SA. My Q1 2013 total ended up being $433.95, which will be paid in mid-April. It is very nice to average about $144 per month in extra income from occasional investment writing (I wrote just three new articles during the quarter).

Looking Ahead: In April I expect just a minor year-over-year increase in dividends. I am anticipating announcements of dividend increases from CVX, JNJ, and PG. My savings rate will decline in April because I will incur some travel expenses related to my upcoming move (I will be visiting to look for a new place to live). However, the expenses will be offset by my SA income and my federal tax refund of over $500, which I received at the start of April. (I was pleasantly surprised to get a refund at all.) I will not be contributing any new capital to my investment accounts because my March savings constitute the last repayment of the money I borrowed from my external cash reserve to make my 2012 Roth IRA contribution. Thus, I will not be purchasing any stocks in April. In a forthcoming post I will discuss my capital allocation plans for the next few months.


  1. DGM,

    Great month, and great job!

    I'm jealous of a couple positions of yours, namely: BDX and UTX. I also wouldn't mind owning VFC. So many stocks, so little capital.

    Good job on the savings rate as well. You're routinely saving about half your income. That's fantastic!! I don't think I quite hit 50% this past month, mostly because of a $400+ plane ticket to fly home and see my father for his 50th birthday.

    Awesome income on your SA articles. I've often thought about writing for them, and that's some very attractive income! Great job!

    Good luck finding a nice place to live in your new locale! I hope the transition is very smooth for you.

    Best wishes!

    1. DM: Thanks! I like BDX and UTX, and I was fortunate to buy them at low prices.

      I'm definitely pleased with my savings rate, which has been fairly steady thus far this year. However, things will get more volatile when I make my move, and I probably won't get a reliable estimate of my post-move savings rate until October/November. However, I will continue to monitor my savings and make capital allocation decisions as needed.

      My success over at SA has been a pleasant surprise, especially thus far in 2013. I would like to write articles more often, but it sometimes takes a while for me to get a good idea that I think is interesting enough and meets my personal standards (which are set relatively high). I also don't want to risk sacrificing quality for quantity. I'd be happy if I can continue to average about one article per month.

      It looks like you had a good month, too! I hope we both continue to do well in the second quarter.

  2. Nice work DGM! That is great year over year growth on the dividend payments!! Really nice success you've had writing for Seeking Alpha. How long have you been writing for them?

    1. w2r: Thanks -- the year-over-year dividend growth is certainly nice! I published my first article for SA in April 2012 and I've been averaging around one article per month. The opportunity to reach a broad audience, interact with like-minded investors, and earn a bit of extra income have all made it a positive experience.

  3. Great job doubling your dividend income from last year. We're at about the same amount for the year but yours is spread out better than mine.

    And also great job on the SA articles and income from them. I'm hoping to start contributing every now and then to SA but I don't think my writing is quite there yet.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. PIP: Thank you! I also noticed that we're on similar dividend trajectories.

      Writing for SA can be a bit challenging; as someone who hadn't written about investing before writing for them (aside from blog entries), it took me a while to figure out how to express certain ideas at an appropriate level. However, I eventually found my own "style" and it's turned out to work well.

  4. DGM, great job. I like your income from SA. That is something I am looking into and maybe some day I will start publishing as well. Right now I do not have enough confidence yet to do it.

    1. Martin: Thanks! The SA income is a nice supplement to the rest of my investing. Writing can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding, so it's definitely worth exploring.

  5. Great job with your SA articles. I've started to contribute and have been pretty pleased with the income from my 2 articles published so far even though it wasn't nearly as high as yours! I'm trying to contribute at least 1 article a month going forward to bring in some extra cash and visitors to my site. I would do more but time and lack of ideas has made it hard!

    1. Dan Mac: Thanks! I agree that lack of time and ideas tend to be the biggest constraints when it comes to writing for SA. Like you, I'm going to try to average one article per month.

  6. Nice work DGM. I had a chance to read your quarterly review on SA. It was exceptionally well written and insightful. Congratulations on the good progress you are making on the dividend increases as well. I tried my hand at a number of SA articles in Q1. It was an interesting experience. I will look to contribute there periodically going forward, though not with the same frequency as Q1.

    1. Integrator: Thanks! My plan is to write quarterly reviews for SA, which allows me to reflect on three months' worth of progress and reach a wider audience, but continue to write monthly reviews on my blog, where I can keep track of the finer details.

      I've read several of your articles on SA and I thought they were good. I would like to contribute more often, but time constraints and a lack of ideas (that meet my personal standards) make it difficult to do so.