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Market Wrap-up for Apr. 8 - Dividend Stocks Under Pressure in 2015

2015 is poised to be another year with all eyes focused on the Fed, as the interest rate decision (or lack thereof) has been and will likely continue be the biggest market mover in the near term.

But beyond the Fed, there are a number of dividend stocks that will be in focus for their own reasons, as we outline below.

Most Watched Dividend Stocks of 2015

  • Apple (AAPL ): AAPL is almost always one of the most watched stocks on Wall Street, given that it is the largest company by market capitalization in the world (and recent addition to the Dow). But the stock will be in focus for a completely different reason this year, as the tech giant is just weeks away from releasing the Apple Watch. This marks the first major new product under Tim Cook’s leadership and the first brand new product the company has put out in some time. The hype for the watch has been huge, but so are the expectations. AAPL will be especially under the microscope for earnings results as investors await to see how the new device resonates with consumers.
  • Energy: Crude oil’s demise over the last six months has put nearly every energy stock in the limelight, as giants like Exxon (XOM ) and Chevron (CVX ) (among others) try to remain profitable with crude prices so low. Some analysts think we will never see oil prices rise above triple digits again which may force a number of energy companies to rethink how they earn their revenues. Crude oil prices, the U.S. dollar, and earnings seasons will be the three biggest factors for energy this year.
  • McDonald’s (MCD ): Once the fast food king of the world, McDonald’s has suffered something of a fall from grace, as same store sales and growth have been weak in recent years. The company has been hit by a more widespread trend to eat healthier as well as failing to innovate its menu as much as its closest competitors. The stock still maintains an attractive dividend which has shown no signs of being in danger, but the decline in growth and outlook has been a cause for concern. Same store sales (SSS) will be one of the biggest numbers investors will watch in 2015 as well as the standard earnings results.
  • AT&T (T ): T took the world by surprise in March when it was announced that it would be replaced in the Dow by AAPL. While fundamentally this did not change much about the company, it was still something of a confidence blow for some. T has also been seeing heated competition from smaller rivals like Sprint and T-Mobile that have aimed to undercut the giant and offer better customer plans. Investors will want to keep a close eye on any market share lost to smaller competitors in 2015 as well as any M&A activity that the firm may use to keep a competitive edge.

The Bottom Line

To be clear, the stocks mentioned above are not in any kind of perilous position, but they will be scrutinized more heavily than some of their peers in the near term. While most of the market keeps its eye on the Fed, investors of these stocks, or those wishing to establish a position, should take a deeper look at the individual problems and opportunities these securities face in 2015 and beyond.

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