2 stocks with dividend upside during market downturns

It’s fair to say that no investor truly enjoys a sea of red appearing next to their portfolio holdings as markets take a tumble. And if you were holding Australian shares in January (which I’m assuming you were since you are here reading this), chances are you know the feeling I’m talking about all to well. Year-to-date, the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) is down nearly 5%, but has staged a bit of a recovery in the past tfew days.

Successful investors are able to train themselves to view volatility as an opportunity. And with the significant fall in the ASX to bring in 2016, there are high-quality names that are trading at levels that have brought the dividends they pay to very attractive levels.

Here are two to consider.

Perpetual Limited (ASX: PPT) is a well-known fund manager that has experienced weakness alongside the broader financial sector to begin 2016. However, at current levels, the grossed-up dividend yield is above 8%.

Perpetual is supported by a strong network of brokers who recommend its products, high name awareness and an established brand history free from major scandals. In addition, the business is responsible for many billions of investment dollars, which means that the best and brightest are naturally drawn to work for the company. Local stock picking stars like John Sevior and Anton Tagliaferro have passed through its halls, while competition for places in the firm is fierce, if the small number of job postings and the high number of applicants are any guide.

Perpetual has also been named Fund Manager of the year by Morningstar in recent years. However, it is not without challenges, with some arguing that the business is overly focussed on the Australian share market and does not have enough expertise in growing international markets.

However, a strong level of funds under management, a burgeoning retirement savings pool in need of investment and a history of breeding winners are all in favour of the business both now and in the future.

Ardent Leisure Group (ASX: AAD) is exposed to different forces to Perpetual but has been similarly dragged down by market weakness. Ardent operates theme parks and bowling centres in Australia, as well as dozens of gyms nationally under the Goodlife brand. It also has a strong growth engine in the strengthening United States economy with the rollout of its family-focussed Main Event entertainment centres well under way.

Critics of Ardent cite an incredibly competitive health clubs and gyms landscape in Australia as a negative factor for the company, however, Ardent has moved to neutralise the threat of 24-hour gyms be converting its own centres to the 24-hour model, which has shown good traction. Ardent has also shown its ability to grow members when acquiring gym portfolios from other operators such as Fitness First.

In addition, the market for gyms in Australia is close to being saturated, and, therefore, marginal operators, especially those operating under new franchise models, will come under pressure. Any closures as a result of competitive pressures in the industry should benefit incumbents like Ardent who have strong marketing and favourable gym locations.

With beneficial exposure to increased tourist visitation to Australia’s theme parks and a falling Australian Dollar through Main Event, Ardent appears to have the building blocks in place for a sustainable dividend, especially as management recently quashed media speculation about a capital raising. At current levels, Ardent is yielding just over 6% for income-seeking investors.

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Motley Fool contributor Ry Padarath has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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