You don’t need to be at the top of the class to be successful. That was certainly true of our Dividend All-Stars of last year, with Manulife—one of our B-graded stocks—blowing away the competition.
With interest rates rising after holding for an extended period near record lows, it’s been a good year to own insurance stocks. In broad terms, financial stocks, including banks and insurance companies, benefit from slowly rising rates. So the fact they performed so well shouldn’t be that much of a surprise.
Still, some have performed better than others. The top performer on last year’s dividend 100 was Manulife, which powered ahead by 42%, including dividends. That beat the next best performing insurance company by more than 20 percentage points.
Once again, Manulife is part of our B-team of top dividend stocks, in part because its current yield at 3.4% is below some of its peers and trades at a slightly higher valuation. Still, it’s an intriguing stock to consider given it has grown its dividend by 9% on average for the past five years. It’ll be interesting to see if it can keep its strong performance up.
Of course, financial stocks have the history and stability to fatten up their dividends year after year so you expect to find them on list of Dividend All-Stars. But there are exceptions.
Five of the 18 stocks on last year’s list of top dividend payers were from other sectors—including our second-best performer, Linamar, which came in as our second-best performer. It managed a return of 31.7%—although most of that gain was powered by the company’s rising share price as opposed to dividend distributions.
If you stuck with just our A-graded stock, an equal-weighted portfolio would have returned about 12% on the year. If you were to expand your portfolio to include our B-graded stocks then our All-Stars returned 16%. None of the 18 stocks we identified as All-Stars last year lost money and only two returned less than 10%.
One of those companies was Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which had the poorest showing last year. CIBC had a total return of 5.4, which is a hair below the S&P/TSX Composite.
Here’s a full breakdown of how the Dividend All-Stars performed over the past year.
Last year’s Dividend All-Stars*
|Rank||Company||Total return*||Previous year's All-Star Grade|
|1||Manulife Financial Corp||42.7%||B|
|3||National Bank of Canada||28.0%||B|
|4||Sun Life Financial Inc||20.8%||A|
|5||IGM Financial Inc||20.2%||B|
|7||Magna International Inc||18.3%||B|
|8||Industrial Alliance Insurance & Financial Services Inc||18.3%||B|
|9||Power Corp of Canada||17.5%||B|
|10||Royal Bank of Canada||17.3%||B|
|11||Bank of Nova Scotia/The||15.4%||A|
|12||Great-West Lifeco Inc||15.2%||A|
|14||Genworth MI Canada Inc||11.8%||A|
|15||WestJet Airlines Ltd||10.6%||B|
|16||Shaw Communications Inc||10.4%||B|
|17||Bank of Montreal||6.8%||A|
|18||Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce||5.4%||A|
* The returns in the table above assume dividends are reinvested when they are received. For our overall performance calculation we assume dividends are reinvested once a year, when the portfolio turns over.