2020 proved to be a disaster for many UK share investors as dividends toppled like dominoes. 2021 could throw up more unwanted surprises for share pickers as the Covid-19 crisis rolls on. But this doesn’t mean I’ll stop buying for my own Stocks and Shares ISA this year. There remain plenty of top dividend shares to make big money this year and beyond.
A FTSE 100 contender
Property giant Land Securities (LSE: LAND) gave dividend investors some palpitations in 2020. But glass-half-full investors might be tempted to think the FTSE 100 firm has turned the corner.
It reinstated dividends back in November after suspending them following the Covid-19 outbreak. And now City analysts suggest that annual payouts will begin growing again after slumping in the last fiscal year (to March 2020). This means Land Securities boasts chubby yields of 3.5% and 5% for financial 2021 and 2022 respectively.
I fear UK share investors are taking a mighty gamble investing in this Footsie firm however. Back in November, it said trading conditions had begun to improve in more recent months. But tightening Covid-19 lockdowns since then, and in particular the national clampdown announced in recent days, surely puts paid to such a recovery.
Plenty of problems
Land Securities saw pre-tax losses balloon to £835m in the six months to September, from £147m a year earlier. This reflected the retail, leisure and hotel sectors being put into mothballs. The probability that current lockdowns will remain in place until the spring gives the FTSE 100 firm and its investors plenty to worry about.
Also, Land Securities can expect no relief to come from its portfolio of office properties either. It’s not just the threat of a cyclical slowdown that could pressure the UK share’s rent rolls. It’s that the rise of homeworking could also push up vacancy rates in the near term and beyond.
All of this explains why Morgan Stanley predicted recently that “market rental value trajectory will be sideways at best” across the broader office sector. It even said rents will actually drop “in weaker locations where supply is looser.”
I’ll be buying other UK shares!
City analysts expect Land Securities to bounce from a 32% drop in annual earnings in this financial year to a 17% rise in financial 2022. Clearly though, the fresh national lockdown puts figures for this year and next in severe jeopardy. So I won’t be buying this UK share for my ISA any time soon.
Besides, Land Securities’ share price doesn’t even reflect its broad range of colossal problems right now. Today, the FTSE 100 business trades on a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 20 times. I’d expect a reading much closer to (or even below) the bargain-basement benchmark of 10 times.
There are many other UK shares in much healthier shape to choose from today. And experts like The Motley Fool can help you to dig these out.
Royston Wild has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Landsec. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.