(Bloomberg) -- Companies that pay rich dividends have been stock-market laggards this year as investors piled into growth-oriented tech giants — but that’s about to change, according to Goldman Sachs.
The bank’s options strategists, including John Marshall, recommend investors buy calls on select high-yielding dividend payers as potential “catch-up trades.” The recommendation comes as the iShares Select Dividend ETF (DVY), which includes companies like Oneok Inc. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., is down 8.5% this year compared with a 7.2% advance in the S&P 500 Index, not to mention the 24% surge in the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index.
“High dividend paying stocks (DVY) have underperformed their normal relationship with macro assets by 33% since Jan. 18 and by 16% since the start of 2023,” the strategists wrote in a note Wednesday. “This is despite no significant outflows from dividend ETFs.”
DVY has been hit particularly hard by its heavy weighting toward two of the market’s worst-performing sectors, utilities and financials. The turmoil in US regional banks drove down some DVY holdings — including First Horizon Corp. and KeyCorp. — by more than 40% this year.
The selloff in financial stocks and utilities “does not fully explain the weakness of high dividend stocks,” Goldman analysts said. Options suggest “positioning is bearish on the average DVY stock as evidenced by high one-month normalized put-call skew relative to the past year.”
Read more: Record Dividends No Match for Recession Woes Gripping Market
The strategists recommend making tactical purchases of calls on underperforming stocks where free cash flow yield is above dividend yield.
In particular, they highlighted Verizon Communications Inc., Philip Morris International Inc. and International Business Machines Corp., all of which are outside the financial and utilities space and have declined between 8% and 11% so far this year.
Options trading in all three of those recommended calls was low on Wednesday.
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