My dividend investing strategy entails purchasing dividend growth stocks that meet qualitative and quantitative entry criteria. The goal of my dividend growth portfolio is to purchase stocks that will raise dividends for years, without me having to reinvest anything back. The stream of dividend income will be used to fund my retirement, while the dividend growth will provide protection against inflation. I do not plan on selling, unless one of these three situations occur.
My strategy relies on companies which grow dividends over time. However, I do expect that I will experience dividend cuts and eliminations. Despite the fact that I own more than 40 individual stocks, a few rotten apples could lead to flat or lower dividend income for me. One of the three reasons that cause me to sell a stock is when it cuts distributions. However, I do end up replacing the cutter with a company from a similar sector, which meets my entry criteria. For example, when I sold the financial State Street (NYSE:STT) in 2009, I replaced it with AFLAC (NYSE:AFL).
While I can calculate the ratio right now, once I initiate a position, I realize that things can change afterwards. A company that raises dividends faster than earnings, will eventually be in a position where it might not be able to reinvest sufficient amounts into the business. This could lead to dividend cuts, which are to be avoided. Another item to note includes structural changes. Banks such as U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) used to be darlings for dividend growth investors. However, the events of 2008 led to steep dividend cuts. An investor who purchased these stocks in the 1990’s could not have foreseen the events that led to the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009. Only those who monitored their portfolios closely and weren’t “married” to their stock holdings would have been nimble enough to dispose of the stock after the first dividend cut in 2008.