A regular, steadily growing dividend rewards long-time investors for sticking around, especially in this low interest rate environment. Share buybacks cut the amount of shares outstanding, which helps boost earnings for a profitable company. But a special dividend is just a return of capital. At best, it indicates that management really doesn't know what else to do with the cash to grow their companies. At worst, it's a case of management members lining their own pockets.
So what is a good candidate for a well-rounded investment? One of my favorite core portfolio holdings is IBM. Big Blue actually has taken up its dividend 13% in 2012 and continues to use its cash to grow in key areas such as services and analytics, which is 80% of the business. Just look at how well IBM has performed relative to peer such as
because it had the foresight to shift from hardware to the key area of growth. In addition, IBM increased its share buyback program in October by 75% to $11.7 billion said it plans to ask the board to authorize more in April 2013 as it seeks to improve shareholder returns.
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