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How I Scored an 11% Yield During an Economic Panic

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

There has scarcely been a more important time for investors to hunt for high yields than right now. 

The key reason? Safety.

But it doesn't have to stop there. I'm about to show you how you can lock in safe, double-digit yields, during times of economic uncertainty. All it takes is a couple of simple screening tools, the brains to understand that cyclical swings are an opportunity -- not a reason for panic, and the guts to follow through with conviction.


As I'll explain in a moment, readers of my High-Yield International advisory were able to do this very thing in 2009. And if they could do it back then -- during one of the most uncertain economic times in the past century -- then it can easily be done again.

First, let's take a look at where we stand...

Investors face myriad macroeconomic concerns in 2012. Since the beginning of the year, U.S. economic data have weakened markedly -- job creation has been uninspiring at best, and consumers have been hesitant to spend. Meanwhile, many economists are worried about the so-called 2013 "fiscal cliff," a host of tax hikes and government-spending reductions due to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. If all of these measures are enacted, it could represent as much as a 4% headwind to U.S. economic growth early in the new year.

Europe is likely already in a recession, and additional fiscal austerity measures due to go into effect this year in hard-hit economies such as Italy and Spain offer little chance for a near-term recovery. 

Even the news out of emerging markets has been less than stellar, with the Chinese economy slowing faster than most expected this year. The Chinese government has even enacted several monetary and fiscal stimulus measures to support growth. 

Yet readers of High-Yield International know some of the most dynamic opportunities for investors to get high-yielding dividends are overseas.

The best-performing stocks have been defensive, like those in the "sin" and utility groups. The worst-performing groups are those considered economically cyclical -- financials, industrials, transports and consumer stocks. 


But investors have a habit of overreacting to short-term events. And that creates great profit opportunities for smart investors. 

Last summer, for example, the global economy slowed temporarily and cyclical stocks were slammed during the summer months as many predicted a new global economic downturn. As the global economy reaccelerated in the fall, those same cyclical stocks rallied sharply.

The lesson: market declines offer a good opportunity to look for high-quality stocks that have been beaten down due to short-term macroeconomic concerns. Patient investors can periodically snap up these attractively-valued stocks during market downturns, locking in high yields on their investment in the process. 

One of the best measures of valuation is the price-to-earnings-to-growth (PEG) ratio, calculated by dividing a company's price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio by its long-term projected earnings growth rate. While there is no hard-and-fast rule, stocks trading with a PEG of around 1.0 or lower are considered bargains. Similarly, those with a PEG of less than 2.0 are considered reasonably valued. 

For dividend-paying stocks, I also like to look at the price-to-earnings to growth and dividend yield (PEGY) ratio. This measure is calculated by dividing a company's P/E by the sum of its projected earnings growth and dividend yield. Because long-term returns from dividend-paying stocks are driven by both earnings growth and the yield, the PEGY gives income stocks credit for offering investors a higher yield. 


With these points in mind, I screened our vast database of international companies, searching for stocks trading on the U.S. and Canadian exchanges with a yield of at least 4%. I further screened out all companies with a PEG ratio above 2.0 and a PEGY ratio of more than 1.5. And because I'm looking for stocks that have been beaten down amid this year's economic growth scare, I confined my search to firms that are trading lower so far in 2012. 

Action to Take --> Any of the stocks in this table are worth further consideration, but Navios Maritime Partners (NYSE: NMM) is an excellent example of what I'm talking about. 

I bought the dry-bulk shipper in December 2009, during the height of global economic panic. The stock price had been cut dramatically, but investors had unfairly penalized the stock because of the high-profile financial troubles of other dry-bulk carriers with exposure to weakness in spot dry-bulk tanker rates. Navios' dry-bulk carriers are all booked under long-term contracts that guarantee fixed leasing rates. It has little or no near-term exposure to spot charter rates. So because the stock had been unfairly punished I added it to my High-Yield International portfolio and I'm now sitting on a total return (including dividends) of 36%. I still think Navios is undervalued. That's why it remains a "Top Pick" in High-Yield International.

The point is, if you're smart and don't let the cyclical nature of the market fool you, you can snap up incredibly high yields from quality international stocks for an amazing price.


P.S. -- If you're tired of settling for paltry yields on U.S. Treasuries, you don't have to settle for the limited world of U.S. stocks to get the income you need. I've put together a special report that explains how you can find some of the highest -- and safest -- yields in the world. Go here to learn more.

Paul Tracy does not personally hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.
StreetAuthority LLC does not hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article. This article orginally appeared at StreetAuthority.com

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