How and When to Buy Dividend Paying Stocks


Utilities, which tend to pay high dividends and have a regulated monopoly, meaning that they have predictable earnings and rarely lose money, were once thought of as “widow and orphan” stocks.  These were stocks for those who needed steady income and could not take a substantial risk.  People would give up the potential gains from growth stocks and smaller companies that could provide large capital gains in exchange for the relative safety of a steady dividend.

Companies that pay large dividends tend to be large companies late in their life cycle.  They have already grown as big as they will and now have a steady business that provides a good cash flow.  Because they are not growing rapidly, they are able to distribute money to investors.  They are not acquiring other companies and opening new locations.  Note that even if they continue to grow (Walmart and Microsoft are still expanding, for example), they are so big that they simply cannot grow at the rate of smaller companies.  For example, how much more oil would Exxon need to produce to double their earnings if oil prices remained fixed?

In fact, the pricing of all stocks assumes that someday they will either start paying a dividend or be bought out by another company that will.  If the company were to keep reinvesting all of their earnings in acquisitions and growth, while the company would be getting bigger and earnings would be increasing, the shareholders would never receive anything for their investment.  Eventually the company is expected to reach its elder years and start to pay out a good portion of their earnings in a dividend.  When buying a young stock, the price paid is actually a factor of how large the stock is expected to be, and thereby how much cash it will have for dividends, combined with how likely it is to obtain that size and how long it will take to get there.

So stocks that pay large dividends generally cannot be expected to grow significantly; however, they add stability to a portfolio and (nearly) guarantee a return even when the market is flat.  Those who bought pure growth stocks during the 2000’s may have seen no return at all (at least if they bought enough to mimic the behavior of the whole market, which has been relatively flat).  If they bought stocks with a 4% dividend, however, they would have at least gotten a return of 4%.

Another advantage of dividend-paying stocks is that they tend to be more stable in price.  This is because as long as they are able to keep paying the dividend the yield of the stock will put an effective floor on the price.  If a stock is paying $1.00 per share per year, at $10.00 per share the stock will be paying a yield of 10%.  If it drops to $5 per share but the dividend remains unchanged, it will be yielding 20%.  At some point, the yield will become so big that investors will come in and buy the stock simply for the dividend.

One must be careful, however, when buying stocks with outsized yields.  If the business is suffering along with the share price, the company may not be able to continue paying the dividend and may need to cut it.  When that happens, if people are buying the stock simply for the dividend, the stock may fall in price dramatically.  When looking at stocks, make sure the earnings are substantially larger than the dividends (maybe 2 times as much) and that the company has plenty of cash flow.  Also, see if their peer companies are paying comparable dividends or have cut their dividends recently if they are not.

Finally, dividend-paying stocks aren’t for everyone.  When you are just starting out and have little money to invest, growth should be the primary driver.  Investments should be made in stocks that are likely to grow rapidly and produce large returns.  As one starts to build up a substantial net worth, however, and the focus turns from growth to stability and income, the inclusion of some high dividend paying stocks is a necessity.

Think of it this way.  A portion of your portfolio should be for increasing wealth.  This is the portion that is filled with growth stocks – companies that are small and growing and have great prospects for years to come.  The other portion of your portfolio should be for capital preservation.  This includes high-yield stocks, bonds, and mutual funds that invest in large portions of the market.  These are established companies and the preferred stocks of companies.  These stocks are not expected to provide a significant portion of their return in capital gains (although the price will generally tend to increase with inflation), but they will provide stability and help protect your net worth during downturns.

As time passes and your net worth grows, and as you get closer to needing the money, the growth portion as a percentage of your portfolio will decrease and the income/stability portion will increase.  As you really start to need the money, some stock should be sold and converted to cash to provide even more of a cushion against downturns.  I always hate to hear about people putting off retirement because of a drop in the market.  With proper asset allocation, you won’t be one of them.  This includes allocating a portion of your portfolio to high-yielding stocks when it makes sense.  When they drop, you can sit back and collect the dividends while you wait for them to recover.

Have a question?  Please leave it in a comment.  Follow me on Twitter to get news about new articles and find out what I’m investing in. @SmallIvy_SI

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

Basic Charting Patterns in Stocks


I don’t do a great deal with charting.  While there are some who search through charts for price patterns, I’ve found that charting is useful for telling you where you are, but not that useful for telling you where you are going.  Nevertheless, every investor should know the basics about charting, if for no other reason than to understand what other people are looking at and the predict their reactions. Today I wanted to go over some of the basics.  I’ll expand this thread as time goes on.

Here are some of the basic definitions:

Chart:  A chart is a graph of price over a period of time.  The most basic form of a chart is a line chart, which consists of a plot of the closing prices.  A more useful chart is a OHLC chart, which plots the Open, High, Low, and close for each day (or week or month).  This chart is more useful since it shows where a stock traded during the period, rather than just a point in time, which tells more of the story.  Candlestick charts, which as colored or open boxes depending on whether the stock moved up or down during the day, are another refinement.

time frame:  There are different time frames, which correspond to the length of time represented by each point on the chart.  For example, a chart that plotted a point each 15 minutes, and spanned a day, would be a very short-term chart.  A chart that plotted one point per day and extended a couple of months would be a short-term chart.  An intermediate-term chart would have points that represented a few days or so and cover several months.  Finally, a chart where each point was a week or a month, and covered a few years to a decade, would be a long-term chart.  I’m typically concerned with the long-term trends, so I look at charts of several months to a few years or a decade in length.

(Note, a great book that includes charting is Trader Vic: Methods of a Wall Street Master.  I would recommend picking up a copy if you are serious about technical investing.)

Trend:  A trend is the current movement of a stock.  A stock will always be in an uptrend, downtrend, or drawing lines.  We’ll cover these in a later post.

pattern (Bull or Bear): Certain patterns are commonly seen that foreshadow specific price movements.  One that would indicate the stock is ready to go up would be a “bull pattern”; one that indicated a decline in price a “bear pattern”.

floor or support level:  A price at which the stock traded at for a while before moving higher.  When the stock hits that price, it tends to not move below it.

ceiling:  The opposite of a floor.  Here the stock price is below the ceiling, and it may be difficult for the stock to get above the ceiling.

moving average:  An average in which the closing price for a specified number of days are added together and averaged.  Each day a new day is added and the earliest day in the average dropped.  Moving averages tend to smooth out the price of a stock and provide a clearer picture of what is happening.  Also, a stock above its average may be pricey, one below it inexpensive.  A 90-day moving average is a commonly used average.

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Have a question?  Please leave it in a comment.  Follow me on Twitter to get news about new articles and find out what I’m investing in. @SmallIvy_SI

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

The Evil of Income Taxes


When America was founded, there were no income taxes – just taxes on goods and on trade.  It wasn’t until about 150 years after the country’s founding, there was no income tax.  And there is a good reason for it.

Have you ever really thought about income taxes, and what a country is doing by imposing an income tax?  Most other taxes involve doing something.  You want to buy something, so you pay a tax when you make the purchase.  The tax helps fund the protections that allowed that marketplace to function.  You want to travel somewhere, so you pay a tax when you make the trip.  The taxes help cover the cost of the roads and protections along the route.  In both cases you want something that involves help from the government and use of government services.

With an income tax, you really aren’t doing anything or asking anything from anyone.  All you are doing is producing things.  And you have not even necessarily gotten anything for the items you produced yet – you just have a bunch of IOU’s that will allow you to purchase things later.  People just come to your home (symbolically, unless you don’t pay your taxes), see that you have produced something, and demand that you give up a share of what you have made.

Imagine if you had spent all summer growing corn.  In the Spring you dig up the ground and get everything ready.  You plant the seeds and spread fertilizer out.  All summer long you water, pull weeds, and chase off crows.  Finally, in the fall, you spend hot afternoons and evenings picking the corn and storing it away, until your barn or silo is full.

Then someone comes along and says, “You owe me 15% of that corn.”

Now I’ll agree that part of your money goes towards things that government provides that enable you to make an income.  The government provides the protections that are needed to allow you to focus on running a business or working in a factory.  The government provides roads and infrastructure that allow you to ship goods and travel to and from work.

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And actually, my example isn’t quite right.  If you just grew the corn and then stored it away, I don’t believe you would owe income taxes.  Things you produce for yourself are generally not taxed.  And that’s the really strange thing.  When you do things selfishly for yourself – build a home for yourself, grow food for yourself (and you family), or make clothes for yourself, you pay no taxes.  You could even make yourself a yacht or a private plane, and you would owe no taxes (if you produced all of the materials yourself).

If you do things for other people, however, like grow food for them, build houses for them, or make clothes for them, you are taxed.  And the more you do for other people, the more you are taxed!  If you make a few clothes per week and maybe provide clothes for 100 families during the year, you’ll be taxed at 10%  If you manage a group of people, making clothing for 10,000 families a year,  you are taxed at 25%.  If you run a company that provides clothes for hundreds of thousands of people, you’re taxed at 40%!

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So think about that – the more you do for others, the more you produce, the more you make the lives of others better, the more you are taxed.  Does that sound like a good system?

Please contact me via vtsioriginal@yahoo.com or leave a comment.

Follow me on Twitter to get news about new articles and find out what I’m investing in. @SmallIvy_SI

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Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

Picture Credits:  Kevin Abbott , downloaded from stock.xchng.

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