Investment Help

If you are seeking investment help, look at the video here on my services. If you are seeking a different approach to managing your assets, you have landed at the right spot. I am a fee-only advisor registered in the State of Maryland, charge less than half the going rate for investment management, and seek to teach individuals how to manage their own assets using low-cost indexed exchange traded funds. Please call or email me if interested in further details. My website is at If you are new to investing, take a look at the "DIY Investor Newbie" posts here by typing "newbie" in the search box above to the left. These take you through the basics of what you need to know in getting started on doing your own investing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Teach Your Kids About Stocks - Dividend Yields

In honor of Financial Literacy Month, we continue today with an exercise parents can do with their kids to learn about stocks.

Bonds pay interest and stocks pay dividends. Bond interest is usually a fixed percentage of the principal amount and has to be paid as scheduled - otherwise a company may be forced into bankruptcy. Dividends on the other hand may or may not be paid and they can be increased or reduced.

If we put on the hat of the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of a company we realize that he or she has a choice on what to do with profits earned by the company. They can be reinvested in the company  or they can be paid out in dividends to the owners, that is the stockholders.

As investors we are interested in the dividend yield of stocks for a few different reasons. Dividends act as a cushion when the stock market drops and are therefore stocks that pay dividends are generally considered less risky than non-dividend paying stocks. Dividends provide an income stream to investors who are in retirement and living off of their investments. Many dividend stocks today actually yield more than bonds and have the likelihood of increasing their dividend over time. Simply stated, investors would rather have a stock like Johnson & Johnson (ticker = JNJ) that pays a dividend of $2.28/share to yield 3.50% than the 10 year U.S. Treasury note that yields 2%.

Not only does JNJ have the higher yield but it also has the potential to raise the dividend payout significantly over the next 10 years, Keep in mind, however, that JNJ is riskier than the U.S. Treasury note - what we are describing here is the basic risk/return trade-off.

After reading the posts of the last 2 days it should be easy for you to find the dividend and yield of any stock. Just go to the Yahoo Finance site described in those posts and you'll find, for example, the yield discussed here:

Source: Yahoo
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE  Take the dividend (2.28) and divide by price(64.20) to check the yield calculation. If you follow the procedure to get historical prices that we looked at on Monday you can actually see the quarterly dividend payouts. It would be a good exercise for a young person to write-up the process of getting the actual dividend payouts for a stock (Coca Cola say) for the last 2 years.

Investors, as you might imagine, keep track of which stocks have increased their dividend over a long period of time. These are called "dividend aristocrats".

Today dividend investors are fortunate because there are a number of good blogs devoted to dividend investing. They do excellent research and give the dividend investor good ideas. Here are a couple I follow:

To me one of the best ways for the DIY investor to participate is with dividend exchange traded funds. They provide you with immediate diversification. Some I use are DVY, SDY, and SCH . Using the method described yesterday  find the 5 top holdings in these funds and compare their yields.

Disclosure: I own some of the stocks and exchange traded funds mentioned in this post. It is intended for educational purposes only. Individuals should do their own research or consult a professional before making investment transactions.

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