Money Matters - Simplified

Excavating Dividends in Israel


Rumor has it that at one of Jerusalem's excavation sites, archeologists recently discovered piles of coins from thousands of years ago. The prevailing theory is these are dividends that were paid on stock from the Mesopotamia stock exchange.


OK, so that's not true. What is true, however, is that Israel is home to some pretty amazing companies in the areas of tech, biotech, pharmaceuticals, and telecom. If you're like me, you've always been a little intimidated about investing in foreign stocks. It's like landing in a foreign country -- you don't understand the language, you aren't sure of the cultural rules, and you're afraid of getting ripped off. But eventually, you get acclimated to your surroundings and feel comfortable.

The analog to getting acclimated with stocks is research. I look for the same things in foreign stocks as I do domestic ones, and in this case, it's solid companies that pay strong dividends.

Cellcom Israel (NYSE: CEL) is a cellular service provider with 3.3 million customers. Content and value-added services revenue was up 24% in the most recent quarter, and the company is adding financial services to its mix. The company has a P/E of 9.3, which is a 30% discount to its industry peers, and a dividend yield of 10.9%.

Formula Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: FORTY) is an IT solutions company with $83 million of net cash, growing operating margins (5.9% to 8.4% in the most recent quarter), and a trailing dividend yield of 10%.

Alon Holdings Blue Square (NYSE: BSI) is a grocery store chain that consistently throws off free cash flow and made a 4% cash dividend distribution earlier this year.

I have deliberately provided three companies across different sectors to help build a diversified portfolio. Of course, you always want to dig deep and feel good that share prices won't decline or dividends won't be suspended.

So gather ye shekels while ye may, and if you dig up any gold coins, they ... uh ... are mine. I lost them during my last vacation. Really.

© 2010 UCLICK L.L.C