Is Anglo American The Ultimate Retirement Share?

Published in Company Comment on 5 October 2012

Will shares in Anglo American help you build a FTSE-beating retirement fund?

The last five years have been tough for those in retirement. Portfolio valuations have been hammered and annuity rates have plunged. There's no sign of things improving anytime soon, either, as the eurozone and the UK economy look set to muddle through at best for some years to come.

A great way of protecting yourself from the downturn, however, is by building your retirement fund with shares of large, well-run companies that should grow their earnings steadily over the coming decades. Over time, such investments ought to result in rising dividends and inflation-beating capital growth.

In this series, I'm tracking down the UK large-caps that have the potential to beat the FTSE 100 (UKX) over the long term and support a lower-risk income-generating retirement fund (you can see the companies I've covered so far on this page).

Today, I'm going to take a look at Anglo American (LSE: AAL), one of the LSE's three biggest miners and the world's largest platinum producer.

Mining a boom

First, let's take a look at how Anglo American has performed against the FTSE 100 over the last 10 years:

Total Return20072008200920102011Trailing 10 yr avg.
Anglo American14.9%-47.7%75.4%23.6%-27.4%9.5%
FTSE 1007.4%-28.3%27.3%12.6%-2.2%7.8%

Source: Morningstar

(Total return includes both changes to the share price and reinvested dividends. These two ingredients combined are what make it possible for equity portfolios to regularly outperform cash and bonds over the long term.)

Anglo American's 10-year average trailing total return is impressive but is the result of the global commodities boom of the last ten years, fuelled by massive growth in China. Anglo's share price is down by more than 40% from its 2007/8 peaks -- so is now the right time to add it to a retirement portfolio?

What's the score?

To help me pinpoint suitable investments, I like to score companies on key financial metrics that highlight the characteristics I look for in a retirement share. Let's see how Anglo American shapes up:

Year founded1917
Market cap£26.5bn
Net debt£734m
Dividend Yield2.5%
5 year average financials
Operating margin29.0%
Interest cover13.3x
EPS growth17.3%
Dividend growth-8%*
Dividend cover7.99x*

Source: Morningstar, Digital Look, Anglo American

*Anglo American did not pay a dividend in 2009.

Here's how I've scored Anglo American on each of these criteria:

LongevityAlmost up to the century mark.4/5
Performance vs. FTSEPretty good over the last decade, albeit volatile.4/5
Financial strengthDecent margins, although debt has risen this year.3/5
EPS growthHighly dependent on commodity prices.3/5
Dividend growthNo payout in 2009 and 2008's final dividend was cancelled.1/5
Total: 15/25

The one thing you do need from a retirement share is consistency -- and Anglo American missed 18 months' worth of dividends in 2008 and 2009 -- while its main peers, Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO) and BHP Billiton (LSE: BLT) managed to continue paying dividends. Indeed, although Rio's dividend was slashed in 2009, BHP actually increased its dividend that year.

Anglo American is the world's largest platinum producer and a major producer of diamonds, thanks to its 85% stake in De Beers, the world's biggest diamond miner. Despite this, platinum and diamonds accounted for just 9% of Anglo's operating profits in the first half of this year. Iron ore and manganese delivered 48% of profits, while coal and copper delivered 42%.

Anglo's score of 15/25 is slightly lower than the 18/25 managed by BHP and Rio in my review of those companies. I think this is fair and reflects Anglo's slightly weaker position as a retirement share.

Expert selections

Doing your own research is important, but another good way of identifying great dividend-paying shares is to study the choices of successful professional investors.

One of the most successful income investors currently working in the City is fund manager Neil Woodford, who manages more money for private investors than any other City manager. Neil Woodford's dividend stock picks outperformed the wider index by a staggering 305% in the 15 years to 31 December 2011.

The good news is that you can learn about Neil Woodford's top holdings and how he generates such fantastic profits in this free Motley Fool report. Many of Mr Woodford's choices look like excellent retirement shares to me and the report explains how he chose some of his biggest holdings.

This report is completely free and I strongly recommend you download "8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor" today, as it is available for a limited time only.

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Further investment opportunities:

> Roland owns shares in Rio Tinto but does not own any of the other shares mentioned in this article.

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The opinions expressed here are those of the individual writers and are not representative of The Motley Fool. If you spot any comments that are unsuitable hit the flag to alert our moderators.

wsclub 05 Oct 2012 , 2:12pm

4+4+3+3+1=15, so the score is 15/25, Roland, not 17/25.

UKCarioca 06 Oct 2012 , 6:09pm

Anglo is facing some tough times right now, between legal issues in Minas Rio and unrest in the Rustenbueg mines. With the latest issues in South Africa regardign workers pay, the outcome (when it comes) is likely to hit Anglo's bottom line. Overall, the share price is likely to be battered for a few months yet, but there may be value there in about 12 months' time. If you do want to get into this share, buy in trenches over the coming months, lock and wait. If the price falls, the CEO will be under increased pressure to resign and the firm itself may start to be a good target for a takeover.

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