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Reliable Dividend Data

In a recent E-mail Gary wrote,

I have a problem getting reliable historical dividend data for Canadian dividend aristocrats and achievers. For example: Enbridge according to dividendinvestor.com has 9 years of consecutive div growth. When I check adviceforinvestors.com it shows only 4 years and dividend.com only gives the last 2 years. When I look at the charts of the US aristocrats it shows steady growth year after year. To select a sold blue chip US company that has increased dividends through thick and thin is easy; it’s just a matter of buying low. I am searching among the Canadian so-called aristocrats and getting conflicting dividend info. I know I could go to the Canadian company website and search for their historical dividend data; often it is hard to find and frequently incomplete. Do you know of a Canadian website that could help me with RELIABLE numbers?

To first clarify for Gary:

Enbridge (ENB) has consecutively raised its dividend for 14 years at an average rate of 7.3% and cumulative raises since 1953 have averaged 10.1%.

Where did those numbers come from someone might ask?

As much as I’m a qualitative value investor focused on Enduring Value regular readers also know that I’m an individual who likes to focus on numbers. Past performance is no indication of future returns, but a strong quantitative history certainly places a company in high regard compared to an eager upstart.

When it comes to numbers, and I’ve stressed this point before in numerous posts, there’s really only one source that I look to for the best answers: financial statements. I can’t reinforce enough the importance for any investor who is interested in investing in individual equities to take the time and struggle through the most basic method of financial statement analysis. An introductory accounting text from your public library or a local community college will give an investor a very basic grasp of how financial ratios are calculated and what numbers are important to determine the financial health of a company.

The reason I always pull my numbers off the financial statements of companies I research or own is because all the information I need is right there and often I can save them in PDF to review at any time I wish. I track my own financial data on each company I own because I’ve found, through my own DIY journey, that far too many websites and resources have incorrect or contradicting data on companies. Where, when and how they get information from makes a big difference in the numbers they post. Numbers may not be updated for a year or more at a time and often the ratios they display use different methods of calculation.

The numbers on Enbridge (ENB) I posted earlier come directly from the 2008 annual report for the company and from an excel spreadsheet from the Situational Analysis that I keep on the company. This method works for me because I have access to a long standing history of financial numbers on the company that I can access whenever I want and I know they’re reputable because the numbers came directly from the company over a number of years. The effort I’ve taken in constructing these files is extensive, but so is my understanding of the companies I own. An investor can use third party research (investment websites) to give them a broad idea of a company’s financial health, but if an investor wants to conduct more thorough research or invest in that company I always recommend keeping and maintaining your own records. Another reason for considering accumulating your own information on CDN stocks is that very few websites provide the same extensive information found on US listed companies.

SEDAR is the site I use for researching Canadian companies and reading over Taking Stock in IGM Part II will help a reader navigate the site to reach an annual report, interim financial statements or other important documents.

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