U.S. stocks are a great way to boost your portfolio returns. Here’s why.
In my experience—over 40 years of advising investors on how to build wealth—too few fellow Canadians have diversified their stock holdings into U.S. stocks.
Unfortunately, most Canadian investors still believe—falsely— that it’s too costly or too much hassle to buy U.S. stocks.
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Most importantly, these investors have also ignored U.S. stocks’ tremendous safety and profit advantages to Canadians.
I believe that up to 30% of every Canadian stock market portfolio should consist of U.S. stocks, for the following three reasons:
- U.S. stocks give you risk-reducing diversity. Canadian stocks are great, but so many are focused on natural resources—so when such commodities sink, so do your returns. U.S. stocks are spread across far more industries, giving you a broader cushion during market volatility.
- U.S. stocks give you international opportunities. Top U.S. stocks are multi-national revenue earners, so you benefit from booming international markets. It means your portfolio is safer and stronger than just relying on Toronto exchange stocks.
- Investing in U.S. stocks is easy and extremely profitable. Don’t worry: Buying U.S. stocks through your regular broker is as easy as buying Canadian stocks. And no matter the dollar exchange rate, when you get good returns, the currency exchange costs are insignificant.
If your portfolio has no U.S. stocks—or if you’re not satisfied with the performance of your current U.S. stocks—I recommend you take a free look at Wall Street Stock Forecaster.
Here’s how to spot the best U.S. stocks
Now is a particularly good time to follow our three-part Successful Investor investment approach — including for U.S. stocks:
Rule #1: Invest mainly in well-established, profitable, dividend-paying U.S. stocks.
Our first rule in the most successful investment strategies will help you stay out of high-risk, low-quality investments. These investments are always available, in good and bad markets. They come with hidden risks due to conflicts of interest and other negatives. Every year, they lead many inexperienced investors to substantial losses.
Recent standout losers include bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies; a disappointing crop of new issues (IPOs), which tend to come to market when it’s a good time for the new-issue company or its insiders to sell, but not a good time for you to buy; and slapped-together promotional stocks that hit the market thanks to the SPAC phenomenon, which offers a short cut to IPO status.
Instead, focus on well-established, profitable, dividend paying U.S. stocks. But, when looking for dividend-paying stocks, you should avoid the temptation of seeking out stocks with the highest yields—simply because they have above-average yields. That’s because a high yield may signal danger rather than a bargain if it reflects widespread investor skepticism that a company can keep paying its current dividend. In short, high dividend paying stocks can come with pitfalls. Dividend cuts will always undermine investor confidence, and can quickly push down a company’s stock price.
Above all, for a true measure of stability, focus on stocks with a high dividend yield that has been maintained or raised during economic or stock-market downturns. Generally, these firms leave themselves enough room to handle periods of earnings volatility. By continually rewarding investors, and retaining enough cash to finance their businesses, they also provide an attractive mix of safety, income and growth. A track record of dividend payments is a strong sign of reliability and an indication that investing in the stock will be profitable for you in the future.
Rule #2: Spread your money out across most if not all of the five main economic sectors.
This is our key to successful diversification and the widely disparaged resource sector saw some major winners last year. On the other hand, if you had disregarded resource stocks with the intention of doubling down on tech stocks, you might have wound up with excessive holdings in tech stocks just as they entered a plunge.
The proportions should depend on your objectives and the risk you can accept. The Finance and Utilities sectors involve below-average risk. Manufacturing and Resources tend to be riskier, and the Consumer sector is in the middle.
Rule # 3: Downplay or avoid stocks in the broker/media limelight.
We’ve recommended a handful of tech stocks and other broker/media favourites in the past few years, but we always advised against concentrating on them.
Rather than zero in on broker/media favourites, we prefer to apply our first and second rules. If you build a balanced, diversified portfolio of high-quality stocks, it’s hard to go too far wrong, even in a challenging year.
How do you decide when to invest in U.S. stocks, and when not to? Share your thoughts in the comments.