Avoiding Groupthink Yield Chasing

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There was news Tuesday that a one-time dividend investor favorite Seadrill (NYSE: SDRL) was warning shareholders that they should expect to “receive minimal recovery for their existing shares” as concerns have escalated to whether it can continue as a going concern.

A few years back, dividend and dividend growth investing dominated the content at Seeking Alpha. Seadrill was one of the favorites of this cohort. It has always been a debt heavy company with decent cash flow and it paid a very high dividend for many years. It ceased paying a dividend in 2014 just as the stock imploded, dropping by 2/3rds in a very short period of time.

Seeking Alpha shows that 80,000 of its members follow the stock. It is written about constantly even to this day despite the dividend being long gone. The debt load was always massive, currently Yahoo Finance shows $10 billion in debt, $1.5 billion in cash and cash flow of $1.18 billion.

In looking at the Seeking Alpha archive of articles for the stock you will see bullish posts all the way down (in price). Before the stock showed any sign of problems, bullish articles tended to explain away the debt concerns because it was part of its growth strategy of adding more rigs which would increase the cash flow and sustain or hopefully increase the dividend.

The groupthink on this probably stemmed from the yield and that it is an interesting story (Norwegian oil rigs).

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