LAWRENCE CARREL | Author of Investing in Dividends for Dummies

· Podcast Episodes
Dividend Trap #1 don't buy a stock just because it has a high yield. Lawrence Carrel Author of Investing in Dividends for Dummies

How can you earn predictable returns and cash payouts from dividends? I’m pleased
to welcome back to the podcast Lawrence Carrel the man who has written the book "Investing in Dividends for Dummies".

"A dividend is a way for a company to use its profits. It's basically a profit sharing plan with its investors. This gives investors an opportunity to share in the profits without having to sell their shares. Most of the time you buy a stock and the only way you could capture any of the gains from the stock is selling the shares and then, once you've sold it, you're out of it. You don't have it anymore. But with dividends you can hold onto the shares and watch their share price keep going up and getting a dividend every quarter for a certain percentage of money, and your dividends grow. Your investment grows with it. So dividends are a great way to invest."

Lawrence Carrel is a regular contibutor to the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, He offers invaluable insights into the intricacies of dividend investing. We kick off with an easy-to-understand breakdown of what a dividend is, how it functions, and the frequency of dividend payment. Ever heard of the dividend yield metric? Lawrence illuminates us on its significance in evaluating a company’s worth and cautions us on the possible implications of a high yield.

We also covered looming concerns about a potential US government shutdown, the debt ceiling and the ripple effects of a shutdown triggered by political disagreements. How would a shutdown impact social security, welfare, and US bonds? Tune in as we explore these implications and ponder over the Federal Reserve's stance on interest rate hikes amidst weakening economic reports. Here's a link to Here's a link to Larry's podcast Two Questions Tuesday


Investing in Dividends for Dummies Second edition by Lawrence Carrel


0:00:01 - Chloe

Stocks for beginners. Phil Muscatello and Finpods are authorized reps of Money Sherpa the information in this podcast is general in nature and doesn't take into account your personal situation.

0:00:12 - Larry

If the government shuts down, then people don't get their social security checks, people don't get their welfare checks. Every state park closes down, every tourist joint closes down and, of course, the people who come to work every day and make the government run are not going to be coming to work and they're going to get their pay late. And of course, the big thing is that people buy US Treasury bonds because of the full faith and backing of the US and people say, well, the US is never going to go broke, they're never going to default on a bond, they're never going to have troubles with that. And the potential is that you're essentially setting yourself up for defaulting on Treasury bonds if the shutdown were to last a long time.

0:00:49 - Phil

Hi and welcome back to Stocks for Beginners. I'm Phil Muscatello. How can you earn predictable returns and cash payouts from dividends? I'm pleased to welcome back to the podcast Lawrence Carrel, the man who has literally written the book on dividends. Hello, larry.

0:01:05 - Larry

Hello Phil, how are you? Thanks for having me back.

0:01:08 - Phil

Yeah, thanks for coming back on. Lawrence Carell is a finance and investing journalist and contributor to publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, barron's Hard Assets and many others. You can also find him on the Two Questions Tuesday podcast, which I highly recommend. Larry, your latest book is investing in dividends for dummies. How long has it been out for now?

0:01:30 - Larry

Maybe a month or two, and here it is with a big pink cover. Fantastic, it's been out, I guess, about a month. So yeah, it just came on the market. We're trying to get some people to pay attention to it and pick it up, and it's a good time for dividends. When the market falls in price, you can see yields on good stocks going up Fantastic.

0:01:50 - Phil

Let's go back to the basics. What's a dividend?

0:01:53 - Larry

A dividend is a way for a company to use its profits. It's basically a profit sharing plan with its investors. This gives investors an opportunity to share in the profits without having to sell their shares. Most of the time you buy a stock and the only way you could capture any of the gains from the stock is selling the shares and then, once you've sold it, you're out of it. You don't have it anymore. But with dividends you can hold onto the shares and watch their share price keep going up and getting a dividend every quarter for a certain percentage of money, and your dividends grow. Your investment grows with it. So dividends are a great way to invest.

0:02:30 - Phil

And it's a way of deploying capital as well for a company, isn't it? Because a company can either reinvest that money in trying to make more money or they can do a buyback, for example. What's the advantage of a dividend over those other capital allocation methodologies?

0:02:45 - Larry

Well, share buybacks are mostly to raise the stock price and, granted, that's good for most investors, but it's really good for the CEOs and the other people in corporate who want to cash out their options later. The dividend is a way for you to share in the profit taking. Now you get some money every quarter that you can use to either reinvest in that company, reinvest in the market somewhere else, or just go out and buy a present for yourself, so you're actually able to capture some of the profits immediately with a dividend.

0:03:13 - Phil

How often do dividends get paid out?

0:03:16 - Larry

It all depends on the company. Most companies pay every quarter, every fiscal quarter, some pay monthly, some pay every six months. So you have to definitely check out what the dividend is going to be before you buy the stock.

0:03:29 - Phil

An interesting metric is a dividend yield as well, and that helps you decide whether a company is worth investing in for dividends. Is that the case?

0:03:38 - Larry

The yield shouldn't be the determinant of whether you invest for dividends. The yield is taking the dividend. What they're paying you in dividends. They're paying you two bucks a share at the end of the year and the price of the stock is $40. So $2 divided by $40 is 5%, and so you're getting a 5% yield on that and that yield is analogous to what you would be getting in any other investment that's paying you yield, such as a bond. So you can say I'm getting 2% on my stock every year, whether it goes up or not, and that sort of counterbalances.

When the market goes down, because you're still getting some money even though the actual share price is falling, you're getting cash in your pocket. So the yield a lot of good stocks, a lot of big companies, have yields that are less than 1%. The average yield is 2% to 3%, and then there's a certain couple of categories that have yields that are much higher. So yield should not be the main concern. It should be the company itself. But then yield can be a secondary concern. But you have to be careful because high yields in themselves can be a sign of a problem at the company.

0:04:43 - Phil

Yeah, because yields are backward-looking metric, aren't they? No?

0:04:48 - Larry

the yield is what it is today. So if the stock falls a lot and the dividend remains the same, your yield is going up. So now, why is the stock price falling? Is the price falling because the company is in trouble, it's not making as many profits, it's posting a loss? Or is it falling because the whole rest of the market is falling? And when the whole rest of the market is falling and yields go up, that's a good time to buy. And when the whole rest of the market is not falling and the yield on your company that you're looking at is going up, that deserves more research to find out if, in case they are losing money, if they are having issues in the inventories or whatnot. So a high yield. If the company is in cash flow problems, a company can cut the dividend. So if the dividend is too high and it's out of whack with the rest of its industry, that means that, through the possibility, they may cut that dividend.

0:05:38 - Phil

Where's the best place to start researching dividend paying companies?

0:05:43 - Larry

My book, of course, Of course without a doubt and the book does go into certain industries and sectors that are classic dividend paying sectors like utilities and telecommunications and banks. Technology is not a big sector for getting dividends. You're getting less than 1% from Apple and Microsoft right now, and those are huge companies with a lot of cash. So consumer goods like Proctor and Gamble, banks, as I said before, those are all the areas that are going to have good, steady dividends and that these companies have been doing it for quite a while. But of course, look up the company you want and then find out if they're paying the dividend. Dividend shouldn't be the main reason you're. I mean, it might be the main reason you're buying the company, but there's a lot of other things going on that are outside the dividend that would determine whether you buy the company.

0:06:33 - Phil

Yeah, I don't want to end up in a dividend trap, do you, where you're looking for a good dividend yield but the company's going to end up with a fall in the share price.

0:06:40 - Larry

I mean, a good example is General Electric. General Electric was paying dividends. They were increasing the dividends every year for like 50, 60 years. It was one of those. Buy it and forget about its stock. You just put it away and the dividend will keep growing every year and you'll make a lot more money if you don't sell your shares. Then the fiscal crisis came and they were in a severe cash crunch and they needed cash immediately. The thing with dividends is a company's not locked in. If they authorize a dividend, that means anytime they're desperate for cash, they can cut the dividend and use that and suddenly you, the investor, are out of luck because they needed that money to keep the company going. This is the easiest way. One of the easiest ways for them to get cash immediately. Now, of course, companies don't want to cut their dividend, because then all the people that bought the company for the dividend are going to cash out and sell the stock and push it even lower.

0:07:34 - Phil

What's a dividend reinvestment plan? I believe it's also known as a drip A drip.

0:07:38 - Larry

Yeah, the dividend reinvestment plans are a way for you to reinvest your dividends. Obviously, instead of buying a mutual fund and having them reinvested or going through a broker, what you're doing is you're buying the shares directly from the company, say Procter and Gamble, which gives a pretty steady dividend of like 2% to 3% every year, and you give them, you buy, shares through the company and then they will hold the shares for you, as opposed to a stockbroker, and then you also avoid paying stockbroker fees. Every time you get a dividend, procter and Gamble will take that money and reinvest it and buy you more shares of their stock.

0:08:14 - Phil

How do you set up a dividend reinvestment plan?

0:08:17 - Larry

You go on the company's website and they usually have a way to apply for it. Some of them will make you buy the stock and then apply for the plan, and some of them will have you apply for the plan and buy the stock directly from the company. You have to check out the company number one to see if they have a dividend reinvestment program and how it works. So, yeah, you got to do a little bit more research on those to find them.

0:08:39 - Phil

So presumably that's a way of compounding for returns in the future, isn't it? Hopefully, fingers crossed.

0:08:46 - Larry

Any kind of dividend reinvesting is compounding. You're just saving fees by doing it through the company as opposed to going through the stock market and the stock broker.

0:08:54 - Phil

So that's the main thing, just the saving on the fee, so you're not paying brokerage on purchasing extra shares. Yes, so you can also use ETFs to access dividends, can't you?

0:09:06 - Larry

Oh, definitely, much like you can use mutual funds, you can use ETFs to access dividends. There are ETFs that just hold companies that produce dividends and you buy the ETF and then they get the dividends every year and those can be reinvested in their own shares as well, and you can get all kinds of different things. You could buy like a sector, like the energy sector, and they give off a lot of dividends. You could buy, say, the XLE and ETF and that's an energy focused all the energy shares in the S&P 500 and then you buy that and you get the dividends off of that. And it's a good way to not take on the single stock risk of just one stock. If you're buying, say, an energy ETF, you're covering the sector, you're getting all the benefits of being an energy and then if one or two companies blows up, your portfolio doesn't take a massive hit.

0:09:52 - Phil

So, when you were researching the book, was there any surprises for you, anything that you didn't really think about prior to this, or anything that has changed since, because this is the second edition of the book, isn't it?

0:10:03 - Larry

Right, yeah, was there any?

0:10:05 - Phil

changes yeah.

0:10:07 - Larry

A little bit of the tax structure. The Donald Trump tax cuts definitely fed into it a little bit, but the George Bush tax cuts those were in the first edition, so mostly just the taxes and a little bit of updating the sectors. After the financial crisis, the real estate and the banking sectors had some issues, so people were wondering are those still good places to invest right now and 10 years later, 50 years later? And yeah, definitely are. A lot of those companies have come back and they're definitely good investment purchases right now.

0:10:37 - Phil

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0:11:47 - Larry

Yeah, real estate investment trusts are very good for dividends because they have a special structure in which they have to pay out 90% of their cash back to their investors. Most of the profits are paid back to the investors and you get that every quarter of a year. That's a good way to own real estate without actually having to own property, and you get the dividends fed back to you. It's a very good process.

0:12:14 - Phil

That 90% figure. That's the dividend payout ratio, isn't it? Yes?

0:12:18 - Larry

It's how much of the profits the company made that quarter are paid back to the shareholders. Yeah, it's a 90% payout ratio.

0:12:26 - Phil

One thing I've learned making this podcast is that dividends are a lot less volatile than share price or stock prices on the market. Can this provide some sort of comfort when markets are in trouble?

0:12:38 - Larry

Yes, definitely. I think you mean dividend stocks. The companies are actually a lot less volatile. That's because a lot of companies that pay dividends are more mature than your startups and your small tech companies and your small biotech companies. Those companies are taking all of their profits and plowing it back into the company to help it grow and pay off debt and pay off whatever they need to do. They don't have any money to spend giving back to the investors. If you want to be an investor, you're going to have to catch it on the share price increase.

But companies like car companies or motors, telecommunications companies, utilities and energy companies these companies and manufacturers like I said Procter Gamble, kimberly Clark, any companies that are mature, that are a little bit beyond their growth stage they're still growing, hence worth investing in them. They're not having these huge jumps in growth of 20% to 30% every year. These mature companies. They're not reinvesting so much of the money back into the company for it to grow. They already have grown a lot and now they have all this excess cash. What should they do with it After they've paid down the debt? And if they want to do buybacks, do buybacks. They give dividends. We have a steady profit. We know how the company works, we know how to run the business and we know that we can guarantee we're going to have enough money to pay dividends every year.

These companies are less likely to do crazy projects. Another thing about dividends is by having guaranteeing you're going to pay out this money every quarter, it limits the corporate officers from just going off and doing their crazy projects with the company profits. It definitely hinders them from just buying any acquisition they want to buy to make their name or to do any crazy project they want to do to make their name by putting into writing that they're going to pay dividends. They want to keep that going. Once they do that, they don't pay one year and then skip the next year and then pay one year and then skip the next year. They're guaranteeing they're going to pay it unless extenuating circumstances like the cash crunch. These are more stable companies. If you invest in these stable companies that have dividends, you're less likely to see a huge crash in the price of those companies.

0:14:47 - Phil

Yes, because often those huge crashes come from crazy CEOs, like you say, going into crazy projects looking for an acquisition, because often acquisitions are more about the ego than actually adding anything to the company's bottom line.

0:15:00 - Larry

Definitely, definitely, definitely. Growth stuck A lot of these tech companies. They're trying something out or they're in visionary things, but they're still highly risky and they don't have a lot behind them yet. They haven't built their foundation, they haven't built a reputation that shows they can survive through bad periods. Often, those companies take a big hit when the market goes down.

0:15:23 - Phil

When you're looking for dividend-paying companies, what are the traps to look out for?

0:15:27 - Larry

Definitely yield. Do not just buy because it has a high yield and say I'm going to be guaranteed 10% for the rest of my life when bonds are paying 5%. You need to be very careful when you're looking at the yields that you compare it to other companies in the industry. Like I said, if it's out of whack with the industry, then it's much too high. If it is high, then you need to research and say why is this company too high compared to its competitors and its peers? It could be because they have too much debt. It could be because their profits are falling, their revenues are falling.

There's definitely some kind of issue going on with the company if it's outrageously high yield compared to its peers. That's one big thing. The other thing is you need to find out whether the company has enough to pay off its debt and enough to pay off its costs, because if a company starts taking on debt to pay off the dividend, then you know they're in trouble because that's not sustainable. How would you look for that? You'd have to dig into a 10K.

0:16:28 - Phil

If you're interested enough, go into the 10K. Otherwise, maybe an ATF might be the best answer.

0:16:34 - Larry

I don't know what's your favorite business news website in Australia. In the United States, CNBC is a big one or Yahoo. You go there and you type in your stock and of course you can get all the latest news on that company. Of course, take a look at the headlines and see if they're having any issues. You can also find basic financial data. On Yahoo Finance you can get an idea if the trend is going down on the revenues or if the trend is going up and the value line. Those are good places to look if you don't feel like digging into an actual SEC document.

0:17:08 - Phil

How are dividends traded tax was Larry.

0:17:11 - Larry

They are treated similar to capital gains and if you are in the two lowest tax brackets, you're charged a 5% tax rate on the dividends, and if you're in the higher tax brackets you pay a 15% tax rate, as opposed to say, like a 39% tax rate, which would be for ordinary income. So it's 5% or 15% depending on how much you earn, what your tax bracket is.

0:17:37 - Phil

What are dividend aristocrats?

0:17:40 - Larry

Dividend aristocrats are a subsector of the dividend universe created by S&P, and what they are is these are companies in the S&P 500 that have increased their dividends consecutively every year for 25 years in a row. So you know that these companies are strong companies, they're stable companies, they're mature companies and that they've been consistently paying out a dividend. Even when times were tough over the last couple of market crashes, they still paid because it was very important to them that they knew people were buying the stock for the dividends. So you want companies that increase their dividends every year so you can afford to buy, like Walmart, which pays a 1% yield, but Walmart increases their dividend every year. So after 5 or 10 years you're probably making a 10% yield on your original investment because they keep increasing the dividend payout. And so that's what the US are all the stocks in the S&P that have been paying consecutively for 25 years and increasing not just paying, but increasing for 25 years.

0:18:41 - Phil

Trevor Burrus. Can you just blindly follow that as an investing methodology, daryl?

0:18:44 - Larry

Lundberg yeah, there actually is an ETF that holds all those stocks and the ticker is NOBL, so that's the dividend aristocrats ETF. There's also the dividend achievers, which are all the stocks that have paid 10 years, increase their dividends consecutively for 10 years, so it's not as hard of a company to get into.

0:19:04 - Phil

Trevor Burrus. So you're also a co-host of the Two Questions Tuesday podcast. What is the Two Questions Tuesday podcast? And it seems to have quite an Italian flavor. With your co-hosts Daryl Lundberg, you're surrounded by Italians.

0:19:19 - Larry

Daryl Lundberg.

Yes, I noticed that.

Yes, I'm working on this podcast that comes out of a financial investment manager, wealth manager, called Finet focused wealth management, and they're based in Newburgh, new York, and so I am hosting the webcast for the two principles there.

And what we do is we get questions from their clients every week and we use two questions, and what it was when, originally during COVID, they were getting the same question over and over all the time from their clients that they just like said we're going to make this podcast and that way, when people call us, we can just tell them go, look at the podcast and if that doesn't answer all your questions, then call us back. So it's a good way to answer directly, communicate with the investors without having to be on the phone with them, and so what we do is we pick the two most relevant questions of the week things people are asking about and we answer them, and usually most things. There aren't too many questions that have to be brought up each week and sometimes we keep going over the same thing, like the Federal Reserve, so it all depends on what's been going on in the market the previous week and what we see coming in the next week, like right now, we're talking about the possibility of the US government shutting down.

0:20:28 - Phil

Is there a possibility that the US government will shut down?

0:20:32 - Larry

I think there's a 50-50 chance it will shut down.

0:20:35 - Phil

Is that because of the debt ceiling or because of the problems with the increase in debt?

0:20:39 - Larry

It's because, well, the debt ceiling issue is over. No, they have to make a budget for the year. And the Republicans, who run the House of Representatives right now, they have a group inside their caucus that are very extreme and they want to do a lot of cuts to the government and they want to do a lot of extreme policies. But the Senate, which is right now the majority of Democrats, that's not going to make into a law, because you've got to get both sides into a law, but they are trying to get these very radical positions passed and they're not getting a lot of consensus either from their own side or from the other side. So unless they can get enough votes to actually pass it, then they're not going to have any bill, and if the bill doesn't come by November 17th, then there's going to be a shutdown.

0:21:24 - Phil

What's the concern with that?

0:21:25 - Larry

What's the concern with the shutdown?

0:21:28 - Phil

I like to ask the stupid questions, Larry.

0:21:31 - Larry

Well, I mean, if the government shuts down, then people don't get their social security checks, people don't get their welfare checks, every state park closes down, every tourist joint closes down and, of course, the people who come to work every day and make the government run are not going to be coming to work and they're going to get their pay late. And, of course, the big thing is that people buy US Treasury bonds because of the full faith and backing of the US and people say, well, the US is never going to go broke, they're never going to default on a bond, they're never going to have troubles with that, and the potential is that you're essentially setting yourself up for defaulting on Treasury bonds if the shutdown were to last a long time. So, yeah, it has severe implications and bond rating agencies are downgrading US debt, which is not good, considering most of the world revolves around the rating of US debt.

0:22:21 - Phil

Okay, so I wanted to cover the questions that were in last week's episode of Two Questions. Tuesday, I think there's going to be another one tomorrow as we're recording, but these are the ones as far as I know of the latest one, and that is is the Federal Reserve done raising interest rates?

0:22:37 - Larry

Well, the market consensus is that it is and they believe that it's done because of weakening economic reports. The October ISM report showed that manufacturing are contracted during that period and that's a negative. And then the US jobs report came in much weaker than expected and in addition to that, there's been some weakening beneath the payrolls that most people are not seeing. One of the crazy things that's been happening is that the payrolls for the last nine consecutive months we've seen the prior month revised downward, so they would come out with a big number and then a month later they would revise it to lower. So I think last month they revised it down 670,000 in a month over month comparison. But the last time we had nine consecutive monthly revisions downward was right before the financial crisis.

So there's a little bit going on beneath the surface there that could have implications. So it looks like the economy is weakening and there's no need for the Fed to keep raising rates because they're basically getting what they want, so inflation to come down and the economy to weaken a little bit. Otherwise, it's going like gangbusters huge demand and the huge demand is running up inflation. But unless we get an upward inflation surprise in the next month or two, the data is beginning to show that the economy is slowing, and so it's most likely that the Fed will stop raising rates.

0:23:52 - Phil

So we keep on hearing about hard landings and soft landings. What do you think Is it? We're looking for a soft, hard or somewhere in between kind of landing.

0:23:59 - Larry

I think a soft landing is where you get a severe economic slowdown without an actual recession, and then a hard landing or the recession. So of course, everyone would like to skip a recession, so we want a soft landing.

0:24:12 - Phil

So the other question could the Israel-Hamas war hurt the US stock market? This is one of those kind of questions, isn't it? It's obvious for someone who's a client of the wealth management firm, and this is something that people see in headlines every day. And of course it seems obvious, or it seems it can create nervousness, especially for people's hard earned investments.

0:24:33 - Larry

So a lot of geopolitics don't really enter the fray of investing beyond a day or two of major events and then the day or two after. But the big place where this could have an effect is in oil, because oil comes from the Middle East and all those countries are getting upset over this conflict, so you could see it there. So far there hasn't been any effect on the oil market really, but it could spread and you could see the market declining on that and that's an unfortunate thing. But I think the market is thinking that it hasn't spread to the oil markets. It's not too bad what's going on now and even though this is a big unfortunate event, we don't think this is going to really affect stocks.

0:25:14 - Phil

So basically, unless it hits oil, there's no problem.

0:25:17 - Larry

Probably not. I mean, for the most part, you're seeing defense companies getting new contracts, and how is the Israel-Hamas conflict going to really affect the domestic economy is the question, and I don't see much of it happening and the people would focus well if they don't see much of it happening.

0:25:35 - Phil

Has there been any movement in defense stocks? I mean, some people might look at the story and say, well, this is going to be good for defense stocks.

0:25:41 - Larry

Well, the week after the attack the first attack defense stocks jumped 15%.

0:25:47 - Phil

And have they pulled back a little bit now.

0:25:49 - Larry

A little bit, but they're still higher than they were the day before the attack. So I don't know if the big money has already been made in that area, but they're definitely going to be making more money in the company, so that might be an area of consideration.

0:26:04 - Phil

Yeah, it's amazing how quickly the Ukraine fell out of the headlines, isn't it?

0:26:09 - Larry

You know people get bored. It's all going to be very exciting, it's all going to be new, and even though things continue, people are like oh yeah, I know that story, I heard that before. So we really are a very short attention span people.

0:26:23 - Phil

They're sounding like a cynical journalist, Larry.

0:26:28 - Larry

Well, you know, they're cynical. And then there's reality. I think it's improved, and though we have much shorter attention spans than we used to.

0:26:36 - Phil

Yeah, yeah. So how can listeners find out more about the book? And two questions Tuesday and everything. Larry, we're very similar. I mean, you use the name Lawrence and then we trunk each other at Larry and I'm Felix, if my mother has still calls me Philip.

0:26:50 - Larry

Well, say Lawrence and I mean you can call me Larry through the podcast. You can find me on Forbescom, you can find me sometimes at wealthmanagementcom, baronscom, but the book is easy, it's in Amazon. It should be in most of your local bookstores Definitely Barnes, noble and. But you can go on Amazon, type in my name and C-A-R-R-E-L and you should find all my books. I have a few on dividends and I have one on ETFs. That's definitely where you can get it. It's got a big pink cover, so that should be attractive on your bookshelf. Yeah, I love the pink color. Why pink? I have nothing to do with it. That was the people at Wiley. They are the design geniuses, so I have nothing to do with it.

0:27:34 - Phil

And two questions Tuesday. Is that available? Is it YouTube and LinkedIn? I believe.

0:27:38 - Larry

It is definitely on YouTube and we're also on Apple, so you can find the podcast on Apple and if you want to see the video of us talking, that's on YouTube. If you go to the focused wealth management website, there's the whole archive that we've done. That will be listed there if you want to see them.

0:27:56 - Phil

Fantastic Lawrence Carroll, thank you very much for joining me today. Well, thank you very much, Phil.

0:28:01 - Chloe

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