As you may know, I’ve been investing in stocks for about 13 years. I surely love it when my stocks provide outperforming returns. Of course, there are laggards, too.
What more can stock investing be about if it’s not just about returns? Every stock investor wants to get rich, right?
I discuss below why earnings quality and dividend income could be important to you.
Since I delved into growth investing, including in small caps, I’ve become more deeply appreciative of stocks with underlying businesses that have superb earnings quality.
I hate to break the news. Stocks with high earnings quality won’t give you the greatest returns. However, they give you something else — a defensive, low-risk holding. These kinds of stocks should provide reassurance to any stock investor when the macro environment is in turmoil.
The more conservative you are as a stock investor, the bigger percentage of these types of stocks you should hold in your stock portfolio.
There are so many investing mistakes an investor can make. So, it’s helpful to see the mistakes others have made and learn a lesson or a few.
One investing mistake I’ve made time and time again was booking profits on solid stocks. Some investors believe it’s not wrong as long as you make money. I agree there’s some truth in that but not the whole truth. (I’ll elaborate at the end of the article.)
There was a number of reasons why I booked profits, and I’ll illustrate with the examples below why I was wrong.
The Stock Got Too Expensive?!
I sold out of Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY)(NYSE:RY) in August 2016. At the time, I thought the top Canadian bank was close to fully valued and I expected to be able to buy the stock back at a lower price.
From my selling point, the stock went on to deliver total returns of about 12%. What’s more? Fast forward three years, RY stock looks fairly valued to me right now trading at about 11.6 times earnings at about CAD$102 per share.
Lesson Learned: In your lifetime of holding quality stocks, for sure there must be times in which they become undervalued, fairly valued, or overvalued. If your goal is to build a solid portfolio and use stocks, such as Royal Bank, as stable foundation stocks, you should aim to buy when they’re fairly to undervalued and hold for a long time.
The U.S. market has been led by the bull for pretty much 10 consecutive years. So, it’s better to take a more defensive stance to prepare for attacks from the bear. A core component of a defensive portfolio is it can utilize conservative dividend stocks as its foundation.
Here are some tips for choosing your foundation conservative dividend stocks.
Earnings or Cash Flow Stability
Healthy dividends are paid from earnings or cash flow. So, stable earnings or cash flow generation improve the dividend safety of a stock.
Typically, utilities, REITs, the big Canadian banks, the big Canadian telecoms, and energy infrastructure stocks are good places to search for businesses that generate stable earnings or cash flow.
When checking for dividend safety, the first 2 things to look at are the payout ratio and dividend track record of the company. Typically, the lower the payout ratio, the safer the dividend.
However, certain industries like REITs and utilities tend to have higher payout ratios. So, it’s best to compare a company’s payout ratio to that of its industry peers.