Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dividends Talk: Bank of America -- Wow!

Ok, I have been on a 30-day Wells Fargo watch and today's 10.7% increase was much better than I had expected. No sooner had I started to figure out why the hike was as generous as it was when one of our readers announced that Bank of America had hiked its dividend 14%. BAC's 14% hike has the effect of nearly striking me dumb(almost) : either they are complete idiots and a hike of such magnitude is equivalent to paying people to be their friends, or it is an honest signal on their part that their business is getting better, since last year's hike during the the 'good real estate days' was only 12%. I'll say it, so you won't have to: "So, Bank of America, et al, what about this nasty real estate balloon that is crashing against the jagged rocks; don't you see that you are going to lose a lot of money over the next couple of years as you foreclose on all those houses overlooking the Pacific ocean, or the Atlantic ocean, or the Gulf of Mexico. Doesn't that thought make you want to hold on to your precious cash. Aren't you worried that global warming will make West Virginia the new Florida (I'm just kidding here) and all of your so-called Sunbelt loans, shall we say, become 'Wetbelt loans?' Your 14% dividend hike is an insult to the intelligence of the New York Times. They say that banks are in trouble, and that investors should look at China, because it is the new California (I am kidding here, too). May I say in the nicest possible terms, 'Are you nuts?' Do you realize that your dividend yield in tomorrow's New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Evansville Courier and Press will show 5.34%? That does not compute. You mean that your business is good enough to pay people more than they can earn from a 30-year US Treasury bond and throw in what ever growth you have over the next 30 years for free? You can't fool me. The New York Times is a bastion of capitalism, and if they say banks are in trouble, you are in trouble whether you know it or not. Of course, its interesting that the New York Times did not announce to the world that they were in trouble, too; that readers were abandoning them for the Internet and graffiti on subway walls. I don't remember them saying that they had bought a newspaper in China at the time that you bought a bank there. Maybe, just maybe they are the fools, not you. Maybe, just maybe, your dividend hike is an honest to goodness sharing of your blessings with your shareholders. Naw, surely not that. No one does something for nothing anymore."