BOSTON ( TheStreet Ratings) -- The Dividend Stars portfolio returned 2.3% in March on a total return basis, a slight underperformance to the Dow Jones US Dividend 100 Index (DJUSDIVT), which returned 2.4%.
Portfolio Changes:Positions Sold in the Month: Norfolk Southern and Miller Industries. There were no positions added during the month.
Highlights:Three of our latest additions to the portfolio were the best performers in March: National Research (NRCI) (+11.2%) was the top performer in the portfolio, while Copa Holdings (CPA - Get Report) (+10.7%) and Miller Industries (MLR - Get Report) (+7.6%) also turned in strong performances. Miller reported strong fourth quarter results and raised its quarterly dividend from $0.12 to $0.13. Despite the good results, I'm moving on from Miller. In reading through the fourth-quarter report, it seems as if the loss of government contracts could impact business over the rest of the year and into 2013. Also, I'm noticing a lot of insider selling, mostly on the part of CEO William Miller and his son William Miller II. Might just be profit taking, but the amount of shares sold in March alone (between the two they sold roughly 150,000 shares) is alarming. Panamanian airline Copa Holdings reported that 2012 is starting out strong as economic growth in Panama continues to prosper. Construction in the region remains brisk, as a new convention center scheduled to be finished in early 2014 promises to bring more visibility and visitors to the region. With earnings for 2012 estimated at $7.50 and demand expected to keep growing, the stock still appears reasonable, trading at just 10.6 times earnings.
Lowlights:Norfolk Southern (NSC) (-4.46%) was the worst performer for the month as continued worries regarding the slowdown in coal demand weighed on the company. Warm winter weather has reduced demand for coal, and with natural gas prices at depressed prices, there could be accelerated closures of coal-based plants. Coal represents roughly 31% of overall shipments for NSC and is likely to weigh signficantly on near-term results. Since I don't see any positive momentum for the stock in the upcoming quarters, I'm cutting losses here at a loss of -10.8%.
Below is the Dividend Stars Portfolio as of March 30, with current profit/losses since inception on Nov. 10, 2011. Note that NSC and MLR were sold at the end of the month.
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