Just like practicing skills in any field, Dividend investing takes time to learn. It takes most people several years in college and grad school in order to become good teachers, lawyers, accountants etc. It is no surprise that dividend investing then takes a lifetime of practice to learn and perfect to one’s individual personality.
The first trait of successful dividend investors is realizing why one wants to be a dividend investor. It requires that investors be exposed to other trading strategies, such as market timing, index investing, daytrading, swing trading, options etc. While traders in big banks like Goldman Sachs (GS) can successfully daytrade the market and earn a profit every day, this strategy might not be suitable for a person that just retired and started managing their money. By learning about market strategies, investors could develop a better understanding in formulating their trading plan. By educating themselves about how the market works, investors will develop the hunger for knowledge which would eventually bring them profits. Most important of all is to have the independent thinking to make the decision for yourself. The beauty of dividend investing is that once the perfect dividend stocks have been selected, one can basically collect the rising stream of income with little portfolio maintenance, leaving more time to other activities.
The second trait of successful dividend investors is formulating a strategy which, much like a business plan, outlines how investing should be done. The strategy should be realistically tailored to the investor’s personality, in order to increase the odds of sticking to it. I mention the word realistically, because a strategy whose goal is to generate 20% yields in one year while possible, would be impractical and unrealistic. Sticking to a strategy requires discipline, which would essentially make or break the dividend growth investor’s performance.
The strategy should discuss the following items: (but not limited to them)
- Screening Criteria
- Entry Criteria
- Exit Criteria
- Money Management
The third trait is patience. After an investor has done all the work in screening potential candidates and researching them inside and out, they have a list of stocks to purchase when they trade at attractive valuations. Since not all stocks are bargains all the time, it would take time to build a diversified portfolio of dividend producing investments. It would take a lot of patience to avoid chasing yield, not sticking to your strategy by overpaying for stocks and otherwise avoid any actions that would detract from long-term performance and achievement of investing goals. In the world of dividend investing, sometimes inaction is the best activity for most investors.
In my dividend investing, I have had several examples where not doing anything has paid off. For example, I have been watching shares of Walgreen’s (WAG) for several years. I liked the business; I also like the growth prospects for the business. The problem was that the stock never really yielded much. That was until in 2010 it briefly yielded 2.50%, which is when I loaded up on the stock. Walgreen has essentially been flat over the past decade, with the dividend being a large component of total returns over the period. By having the patience to wait for the right time to initiate a position in the stock, I have avoided several years worth of watching my capital do nothing and earning no income in the process. Check my most recent analysis of the stock.
Another example of having the patience was during the financial crisis of 2008-2009, when stock markets tanked to 12 years lows, unemployment skyrocketed and the overall mood in economies around the world turned gloomy. Many financial stocks cut distributions. Investors who ignored the bleak headlines and held on to those stocks which maintained and even increased distributions should have higher portfolio values than 3 years ago. I was also able to purchase some shares at rock bottom prices:
Chevron (CVX) at 64.35
Aflac (AFL) at 25.24
3M (MMM) at 55
Altria Group (MO) at 14.91
I had researched each of these four companies in detail for many months and years beforehand. Once I saw the low valuations, I immediately loaded up my portfolio with quality income stocks selling at a discount. Unfortunately situations like that are seen rarely, but once they happen, investors need to be able to capitalize on them.
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