Investing for income
Many global stock markets have moved into the rampant speculation phase of the cycle, whereby nearly all of the focus and talk is about speculating for capital growth.
It will end nastily, as it always does.
But how does one invest for income in the meantime, while patiently waiting for sanity to return to global prices?
Today, a brief look at some of the recent investments we’ve made in line with our 8 timeless investment principles.
Of course, these are not recommendations or advice, because individual circumstances differ; they’re merely examples to demonstrate a few of our thought processes.
At the time of writing the dividend yield on the S&P 500 is close to a record low at an appalling 1.7%, which means that investing for income in the US is very difficult.
Speculation is rife.
To get better results than average, you have to do something different from the herd, so let’s take a look at how that might be done.
Start with our timeless principles of market cycles and mean reversion, and buying low.
A starting point, for example, might be to look at the sectors that have been out of favour.
For those with no ethical filter or boundaries, you might start with the hated tobacco stocks such as Imperial Brands or British American Tobacco…however, these are off limits for many of us!
Energy has also been amongst the worst performing US sectors for 3 years in a row (and for 5 years out of the past 6), while tech has been soaring.
This is not without reason, as the ESG juggernaut gathers momentum, and fundies scramble towards perceived ‘ethical’ investments.
After a relatively barren run since 2010, energy is one such place to begin looking for value (even still, none of the S&P 500 sectors is actually cheap at the present time).
Within the energy sector, oil and petroleum stocks have been unloved, including mature ‘supermajors’..
Managing the risk hierarchy
Now, remember the risk hierarchy.
If you’re concerned about company-specific risk, it may be safer for you to consider a diversified ETF, instead of individual stocks.
If you are going to accept company-specific risk then ideally we like to look for companies that:
-are well established
-have reasonably low and manageable debt
-have a long track record of strong revenues, earnings, and dividends
-are large, systemic type companies
To recap, these are not recommendations, but brief insights into workable ways to invest safely for income, at a stage in the cycle when most people are nervously speculating on a bit of further price growth.
If you’re not comfortable taking on company-specific risk then you don’t need to; you can easily invest in country or sector ETFs instead, for example.
To get better than average results and generate wealth-producing rates of return, you need to jettison the idea of benchmarking yourself against the 12-month returns from any given index.
Such calendar-driven results are meaningless, unless you only have a 1-year timeframe for generating wealth (which you don’t).
See the big picture and remember Rule #1: don’t lose money.
That’s how you become wealthy: by not losing money on expensive investments.
Remember, in cheap markets, you can hoist the mainsail and let the tailwind carry you along.
When markets are historically expensive, you need to protect your capital, and when there’s a headwind this means you’ll need to work a bit harder to generate steady returns.
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