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Avoid this high-dividend stock that just got hit with a ‘double whammy,’ market watcher says

Keris Lahiff

In the hunt for high dividend yields in the S&P 500 , there are winners and losers. Philip Morris lives in the second camp, according to one market watcher.

"The stock has broken down badly," Matt Maley , equity strategist at Miller Tabak, told CNBC's " Trading Nation " on Tuesday.

Recent sell-offs in the stock have pushed it to break below critical support levels, he says, and its technicals suggest more downside ahead.

"It made a key lower low [Tuesday], breaking below its 2016 lows. But not only that, it has broken below its trend line going all the way back to the credit crisis lows back in 2009. So this is a double whammy for the stock," said Maley.

Philip Morris gapped sharply lower a week ago after missing quarterly revenue estimates. The tobacco industry as a whole has been under pressure since mid-March when the Food and Drug Administration floated setting a cap on nicotine levels in cigarettes.

Its sharp pullback could set up a near-term bounce, but Maley says to avoid those alluring shows of strength.

"It's a little oversold on a near-term basis so it might bounce," he said. "But, this is a broken chart and this would be one I would sell on any kind of strength, any kind of near-term strength."

The tobacco company's 22 percent drop for the year has pushed it into oversold territory. Its relative strength index has dipped to a reading of 20, below the 30 level that delineates normal and oversold conditions. A reading above 70 implies overbought levels and below 30 implies oversold.

Philip Morris aside, there are some solid picks among the highest-yielding stocks in the S&P 500, according to Maley. BP , for one, looks to have some upside ahead.

"The stock has seen a nice rally, a series of higher highs and higher lows, and made an important higher high above its January highs of this year," Maley said. "More importantly, it's above its trend line going all the way back to 2007, so you break a 10-year trend line and make a nice higher high, that's a very bullish sign."

This year's rally in oil prices has supported BP and its energy peers. BP shares have increased 4 percent in 2018 and currently sit 11 percent above a 200-day moving average.

"A little overbought near term but there's a stock I'd want to buy on weakness, rather than sell on strength," said Maley.

Judging by activity in the options market, both Philip Morris' and BP's dividends look like a safe bet for now, said Stacey Gilbert, market strategist at Susquehanna Financial Group.

"There does not seem to be any concern right now, at least in the going out a year within the options space, that these companies are going to cut their dividends," Gilbert told "Trading Nation" on Tuesday. "We're not seeing, at least anything in terms of market positioning, currently that these yields are at risk for the actual dividend payments themselves."

Philip Morris has a dividend yield of 5.2 percent, higher than the S&P 500's average 1.9 percent. It has increased its dividend five times over the past five years. Meanwhile, BP's dividend yield is 5.4 percent and the company has raised it three times in five years.


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