Investing is hard, and the biggest impediment to success is usually your own emotions. Which is why it can be hard to buy when a stock is cheap, since other investors are selling. There are ways around this difficulty if you focus on good companies with long and strong business histories. Here’s why I bought Unilever (UL 0.19%) this year and why I’m buying more Procter & Gamble (PG -0.55%) and Hormel (HRL 0.13%).
Three big purchases I made
Unilever stock was recently off its highs by around 15% so far this year. While part of that is market-related, given that we are in a bear market, a lot of the downdraft is related to company-specific issues, like slow growth and management missteps (an ill-advised, and failed, acquisition attempt, for example). I bought the stock anyway, noting that the over 4% dividend yield on offer here hasn’t been at levels like this since the Great Recession.
The key for me is that Unilever is an over-100-year-old consumer staples giant that has proven it can stand the test of time. Its business is underpinned by iconic brands, like Dove and Hellmann’s, that consumers tend to buy no matter what’s going on in the economy or the market. And the company isn’t sitting on its laurels as its business deals with weak growth; it is making changes to get things back on track. That includes revamping the management structure to increase accountability and working with an activist shareholder. So not only do I believe Unilever is taking steps to fix things, but I also believe its business affords it ample time to do so.
The key for me was looking past my fear and pulling the trigger, which is where the historically high yield comes in. I use dividend yield as both a valuation tool to highlight cheap stocks and as a way to assuage my worries, since I’ll be getting paid well to wait for better days. This same logic led to my purchase of Medtronic and Texas Instruments this year as well.
Reinvesting my quarterly dividend checks
The thing about my investment approach is that once I’ve bought a full position in a stock, I start collecting quarterly dividend checks. I’m not retired yet, so I simply reinvest the dividends. I’m basically dollar-cost averaging by acquiring more shares at regular intervals. When a stock’s price is high, I buy less, and when the price is low, I buy more. I’m buying these days with holdings Hormel and Procter & Gamble both recently trading off by roughly 12% from their earlier highs earlier this year.
Now, this tactic is powerful, but you can’t always expect to buy more of something just because the market is going down. For example, Kellogg and General Mills, two other consumer product names I own, are both basically flat for the year. So with dollar-cost averaging, you’ll be loading up on some stocks and not on others, but that just highlights another key tool — diversification. It’s hard for me to complain that Kellogg and General Mills are soundly outperforming the broader market.
All in, I’ve got a method for getting myself to buy when others are likely selling (relative dividend yield). I’ve got a method for continuing to buy, adding more when prices are cheap and less when they are dear (dividend reinvestment). And one to ensure I don’t make too large a bet on any one stock (diversification). So I’ve loaded up where I think appropriate, including new positions in Unilever, Medtronic, and Texas Instruments. I’ve been adding incrementally more to holdings that I like that are down during the bear market, including Hormel and P&G. And I’m benefiting as some of my holdings do well while others do worse, notably including food makers Kellogg and General Mills. It’s not a complicated process, and just about any investor could do the same thing.
I’m built for slow and steady wealth accumulation
I’ve tried investing more aggressively, buying and selling in rapid fashion. It just doesn’t work for me over the long term. I’d rather use bad spells in the market to buy great companies with historically high yields, let them dividend reinvest, and spread my bets over a portfolio of 20 or so stocks. There are plenty of opportunities to start on this path today, including with Unilever, Medtronic, and Texas Instruments, among others. It’s even more powerful if you can put those dividend checks back to work so you can take advantage of the market’s ups and downs over time, as well. Basically, slow and steady is the way I prefer to build wealth.