I remember buying my first car back in 1999. I had just graduated from the University of Kansas. At the time, I was thrilled about getting what I thought was an excellent interest rate of 9.99%.
Flash forward 16 years and American consumers are buying cars with interest rates hovering around 0%.
That’s because the Federal Reserve has held interest rates at record lows since the financial crisis in 2008.[ad#Google Adsense 336×280-IA]But that’s all about to change.
After years of speculation from economists and market analysts, the Fed finally announced the long-awaited news we’ve all be expecting:
Interest rates are back on the rise.
Recently, Chair Janet Yellen announced the Federal Reserve would raise the federal funds rate to a range of 0.25% to 0.5%.
That’s the first such increase since 2006.
Not surprisingly, this news made some investors nervous. Historically speaking, U.S. equity returns have fallen below their long-term averages in periods after a rate hike.
In fact, according to a study from Nuveen Asset Management, in the past 35 years, U.S. stocks gained an average of just 2.6% in the 250 days following a rate increase.
This year, U.S. GDP is on pace to grow by just 2.6%. And many believe that increasing interest rates in a slow-growth economy could be a risky move.
Despite these concerns however, there is of course a silver lining…
According to a study from Goldman Sachs, since 1976, many international markets have outperformed U.S. stocks in the three, six and 12 months following a Fed rate hike.
That alone is good news for international investors. But in addition to these historical trends, the Fed is also just about the only central bank in the world right now that is actually raising rates.
Most other central banks are still doing everything they can to keep interest rates low in order to stimulate their economies.
The European Central Bank is still in the early stages of its new quantitative easing (QE) program, purchasing tens of billions in euro bonds every month to keep interest rates low and pump cash into its economy.
Japan has been holding interest rates below 1% for more than 15 years.
In late October China’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by a quarter point while also lowering bank reserve requirements by a half percent.
All of this tells me that there is a great opportunity at hand. I think international stocks are in position to outperform U.S. stocks for at least the next year.
Certain companies and industries will stand out above the rest. In particular I’m looking at international companies that derive a large portion of their revenue in their respective local markets. These companies will be less sensitive to Fed interest rates and U.S. consumer confidence.
One such company is National Grid (NYSE: NGG), a gas and electric utility company based in the United Kingdom.
Back in 1980, the UK deregulated all electric utilities to stimulate competition and lower consumer prices. However, operating an electric utility in the region is still a very permit-intensive process.
And National Grid is the owner of exclusive permits that make it the sole electric provider for millions of customers in the UK (and the United States).
These permits give the company a truly wide economic moat to keep any competitors at bay, which has helped NGG become one of the steadiest dividend payers in its industry.
National Grid has reliably paid a semi-annual dividend for the past 12 years. In total, the company shelled out roughly $3.32 per share in 2015 giving it a trailing yield of 4.8%. That’s more than double the average 2% yield you’ll find from stocks in the S&P 500.
That outsized yield is the product of a long-term commitment to dividend growth. And its payout ratio has not topped 65% in the past three years — making it one of the safer dividend payers around as well.
If you haven’t considered investing in stable, high-dividend paying foreign companies like NGG, you should. Not only do they provide diversification, but according to my research, the majority of the world’s highest dividends are located outside of U.S. markets.
— Michael Vodicka[ad#sa-income]
Source: Street Authority