Dividend investing is more than just selecting the highest dividend stock and then forgetting about it. In fact, investors who simply choose dividend stocks based on yield only, without doing any additional analysis are taking too much risk. This risk could translate into full or partial loss of dividend income coupled with severe losses in principal. As a result, investors who plan on living off dividends for decades should take the time and learn about the business they are investing in. They should also try to purchase quality stocks at attractive valuations, and also hold a diversified portfolio with at least 30- 40 individual securities.
The diversified portfolio will reduce the risk to overall dividend income, should one or two components cut dividends. The detailed analysis of each company should determine whether the dividend is sustainable today, which should reduce the near-term risk of choosing a company that cuts dividends right after purchase.
The analysis of each company should include both quantitative and qualitative characteristics. Quantitative characteristics could include things like trends in earnings per share, dividends, stock prices, and returns on equity. Qualitative characteristics could include any piece of information related to the business that could help you understand the business and where it is going. Strong brands, strong competitive advantages, competitive landscape as well as whether products/services have enough appeal to gain some pricing power for the company are just a few items. In addition, any strategic plans will also add value to the analysis process.
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Full Disclosure: Long JNJ and PEP
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