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Behind my contrarian bet on Target

By Charles Sizemore

May was a good month for Sizemore Capital's portfolios. I made modest portfolio adjustments in my Dividend Growth and Tactical ETF strategies, but otherwise I am content to let our basic strategies for 2014 play themselves out.

I expect to see dividend-focused equities continue their outperformance relative to the broader market, and I expect to see European and emerging-market equities outpace their U.S. rivals.

In May I made portfolio moves in the Dividend Growth portfolio. I took profits in Martin Midstream (MMLP) and initiated a new position in Target Corp (TGT).

Target may seem like a curious portfolio addition. Its CEO recently resigned in disgrace due to fallout from last year's credit card security breach. And Target's expansion into Canada 14 months ago has proven to be an unmitigated disaster, generating roughly a billion dollars in losses so far.

In my view, these setbacks are temporary bumps in the road and provide us with an excellent buying opportunity in one of the most shareholder-friendly companies in the world. Target has raised its dividend every year since 1967—a run of 47 years, and counting—and it has also been a serial share repurchaser. Since 2002, Target has reduced its shares outstanding from 1.3 billion to just 638 million as of its last reporting. That's a reduction of 44%.

Let's return to Target's dividend growth. Target's dividend has grown by 19% over the past year, which would be good news by itself. But what is truly impressive is the consistency. Target has grown its dividend by a compound annual rate of 20% for the past 10 years. And going back 20 years, it's 13%. (Of course, some of the recent statistics look impressive due to the overall reduction of Target's stock price.)

Target pays a respectable 2.9% current yield, and its payout is growing at a good pace—making Target a holding for the dividend growth portfolio.

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