We won’t bury our heads in the sand, 2014 may not be as profitable as 2013. It has become harder to find cheap stocks and good companies are not on sale anymore. However, Im fairly confident that I will be able to beat the market for a third year in a row. In fact, history has showed us that each time the market boomed like it did in 2013, the following year is a good year on the market.

S&P500 30 years history

 

When the market is up for so long, the media and gurus are jumping upaand down the claiming it will all end soon. Their rationale is often based on elementary school thinking such as “everything that goes up must come down”. However, the stock market has always gone up, in the long run. Im pretty sure we are not on the edge of a cliff right now, so lets see what we can do.

Today, Im going to share with you the method I use to manage my portfolio and successfully invest in dividend stocks. This is my way of finding valuable stocks year after year without taking on too much risk. I believe an investor must adapt his investing strategies according to the current market environment. This is what I’m doing right now.

#1 Start From Your Investment Strategy

It’s not because the market is up or down by 30% that you must scrap your investing theory in the first place and start over from scratch. So here are the basic metrics I use when starting my hunt for a new stock:

Dividend yield over 3%

Positive 5 year dividend growth

Dividend payout ratio under 75%

Return on equity (ROE) over 10%

Positive 5 year annual income growth rate

Current price / earnings ratio (PE) under 20

My minimum requirements are defined to show strong companies that have everything under their belt to continue paying a healthy dividend. My thinking is to identify stocks that are able to increase their dividend year after year. If they do that, it means that everything else is going well. After all, no matter how hard a company wishes to increase its dividend, if there is no money in the bank account, it just can’t write those checks!

 

#2 Allow Yourself to Cheat

Who said cheating wasn’t permitted? The key is to cheat only on one or two metrics – not to completely deviate from your investing process. Remember, when cheating, you take higher risk… but with higher risks, can come higher rewards!

In 2013, I cheated three times when I added stocks to my portfolio.

#1 I added AAPL when the company didn’t show a 5 year history of dividends and didn’t pay over 3% in dividend yield. This was because AAPL was trading at a very low price and showed strong dividend payment opportunities in the future.

#2 I added DIS when the company wasn’t even paying 2% in dividends! But the other metrics caught my attention since the company is definitely on a roll to grow its value over time.

#3 I bought shares of WMT when it didn’t pay over 3% in dividend yield. Walmart is one of the holdings I plan to keep for years to protect me during rough markets.

 

As of January 6th, AAPL is up 27.22%, DIS is up 14.44% and WMT is down by 0.18% (excluding dividends, not annualized returns, stocks were not purchased at the beginning of 2013). Therefore, I can say that I didn’t make any bad decisions so far.

 

#3 Review Your Dividend Yield Expectations

In 2014, I will even lower my expectations in terms of dividend yield to 2.5% for new purchases. The reason being I dont want to miss a great company with a lower dividend payment. In the end, the most important point is to select companies that will generate money, regardless if it is true dividend payments or capital gains.

A reader answered my most recent newsletter announcing my 2014 Best Dividend Stocks saying his picks were showing more than double the dividend yield than mine. I didn’t answer his comment right away and I didn’t want to seem cocky or arrogant. And the first thing that crosses my mind was who cares about what yield you getting right now? If that company doesnt increase in value and its dividend stagnates, this is a BAD INVESTMENT.

Just for fun, I pulled a screener with all US and CDN companies with over $1B in market value paying between 7 and 10% dividend yield. Here are a few examples of my find:

2014 bad stock picks

If we forget about EC which is truly a catastrophe, the other 3 stocks are not producing anything interesting either. I could have wasted hours looking at the 82 results the screener gave me but after a dozen, I didn’t find any “stellar” investments. I agree that you are cashing out a high dividend but this is all you get.

Remember, and this is especially true when interest rates are this low, if a stock is paying a high dividend yield, it is usually because there is higher risk attached to it. If not, don’t you think that any bozo who can run the Google Finance stock screener would not build a super high yield dividend paying portfolio and live like a fat cat?

Some people will argue they are after income since they are retired, well it is even more important for you to care about the quality of the companies you buy! I would rather sell a few shares of Disney to compensate for its 1% dividend yield while it went up 45% in 2013 than to cash a 7% dividend of a stock that does nothing.

#4 Make Sure Your Core Portfolio is Solid Before Taking Gambles

If you read this blog for a while, you know that I like to take more risk once in a while. I come from an active trader background and my passion for market dynamics makes me trade more than the usual dividend investors (this is what makes me interesting, yes?).

Over the past 3 years, I’ve worked on building a core of stocks that I plan to hold forever. Then, from time to time, I buy and sell stocks on opportunities. Within my current holdings, I know that I will not hold AAPL forever and it’s probably the case for HSE as well. However, I strongly intend to stick to other companies such as CVX, KO, JNJ, MCD, WMT, DIS, BNS, NA and T (Telus). This is my core portfolio. It is more conservative and I don’t mind. This is why I take more risk with the rest of my money.

In 2014, I will add another $5,000 to my trading account (which should happen any day now). I will combine this new money, my cash and my Altamira US index fund to buy 2 more companies. These, along with AAPL and HSE, will be my “gambles” for the year.

You can be sure I’ll take picks from my 2014 Best Dividend Stock Picks Edition ;-)

 

Readers, what about you is the new year or the performance of 2013 affecting your next trades?

 

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16 Comments   |  

16 Comments

WJE
January 8, 2014, 9:35 am

Mike – great post on your selection for 2014 & core Portfolio. I have 80% my Portfolio in Cdn dividend stocks with balance in US div. names. This year will be looking to expand diversification with an European ETF fund such as VGK that is currently yielding 3% as believe Europe has lagged the NA recovery & should do well.

January 8, 2014, 10:18 am

I’m excited for 2014 and looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. I could see a pullback coming this year but at the same time the market may keep rumbling forward. If we do have a pullback I expect it to be slight before the market then resumes its climb upwards.

As far as changing anything about my investing strategy, I’m still sticking to my guns. Like you, I’ll occasionally cheat against my rules by accepting companies that pay a lower than preferred dividend yield. But I’m not going to accept lower yields if they are due to the company being overvalued. I only accept lower yields if the company generally pays a lower dividend compared to other companies.

All in all, I look for great companies that are growing both earnings and dividends over the years. Over the long term, they will lead to good investment performance.

AL MARTINEAU
January 8, 2014, 11:11 am

Hi

Appreciate what you are doing and the information. I’ve been doing this a long time and whatb I look for are dividend stocks growing their dividends 6-10% per year or more.PLUS pay a current dividend of 5-10 a year. In addition I reach in and buy preferreds when they reach the 9% level. I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years getting caught up in other stuff but the stocks mentioned above have come through big time.

I wish you would put out information that lists stocks growing their dividends 6-10% per year. The S&P achievers and mergent are useless to we retired folks because they dont have a decent yield.

al

DivGuy
January 8, 2014, 11:42 am

Hey WJE,
Any thoughts on adding more US stocks? I think the Canadian dollar will continue to lose steam compared to the USD. What do you think?

DivGuy
January 8, 2014, 11:44 am

Hello Dan,
There will definitely be a few bumps along the road, but that will only make buying opportunities better:-)
Which sector do you think will perform best in 2014? I bet on consumer cyclical and probably industrials too!

DivGuy
January 8, 2014, 11:45 am

Hello Al,
finding high dividend yield that are sustainable is a tough task indeed. What is your minimum divdiend yield for you to consider a stock? that would help putting this list together.
Thx!

Don Klinger
January 8, 2014, 12:16 pm

I lowered my dividend to 2.5 early last year and will stay at that for now.

DivGuy
January 8, 2014, 1:07 pm

Hey Don,

I find it interesting that you have used the same metodology as I did with the dividend yield. Most dividend invetsors focus on higher yielding stocks and I think it’s a mistake.

Joe
January 8, 2014, 1:46 pm

I need to figure out which stocks are my core holding. I know I won’t hold on to AAPL that long. I’ll probably sell most of my holding at the next upswing. I need to reduce my INTC holding too.
Can I get some feedback on my portfolio?
http://retireby40.org/dividend-growth-portfolio-passive-income/
Which stocks should I get rid of this year?

Mark
January 8, 2014, 2:32 pm

Will continue in 2014 as I have in previous years: Build up my positions in my core stocks, trying to buy the most undervalued among them when money is available. Stick with DIG investing philosophy – it has worked for me for decades, building a nice portfolio over time. Continue reinvesting all dividends, as the extra shares sure compound over time.

dom
January 8, 2014, 8:15 pm

I lowered my dividend stocks research to 2%

Chuck
January 9, 2014, 1:06 am

I only invest in dividend paying stocks. I have been
looking at some European stocks, such as Banco Santander (SAN:NYSE). It is a great international bank and expanding into the US. Its yield is impressive.

DivGuy
January 9, 2014, 7:40 am

Hey Joe,
I’ll gladly take a look at your portfolio and give you my thoughts. I’ve bookmarked your link.

@Mark,
If you are able to stick to DIG investing philosophy, it pays great dividend over the long haul. Congrats on never panicking!

@Chuck,
I like international stock I can buy on US markets, it makes them easier to trade. How’s SAN payout ratio?

January 9, 2014, 1:17 pm

I am mostly adding to my positions as I already have 35 stocks. I like to see the companies I own have an oligopoly as it means the business has very little competition. There won’t be any spectacular growth either but that’s my way of thinking my capital is safer.

I put more weight on dividend growth these days than the initial yield. Some companies like CNR grow their dividends at a 10% rate and yet never reaches the 2%. It simply means capital growth. In some cases you can find a gem like Enbridge but there aren’t a huge amount of them.

All sectors have their standards though so it’s important to compare oranges with oranges. My filters usually steer me towards large cap so I have very little small cap companies.

Bob
January 11, 2014, 1:03 pm

long time reader…love your analysis on dividend stocks… would it be possible for you to update your dividend holding so we can see what you hold now?

DivGuy
January 11, 2014, 4:12 pm

Hello Bob,
the current holdings are up-to-date. Not in terms of value but I don’t hold any other stocks. I will buy more in the upcoming weeks/months as I just put $5K in my account. Just waiting to have a few minutes to manage my own portfolio, lol!

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