In today’s investing world, there is no shortage of criteria to choose from when picking a stock. Investors can select to build portfolios based on a variety of factors from growth to momentum, or management quality to industry competitiveness. In particular, dividend portfolios are one type you may often see within investing media. Many of them have performed remarkably well, especially in Canada.
But performance should not be your only focus in building a portfolio. As you may well know, with the uncertainty and volatility in the stock market, investors should also be concerned with minimizing risk and preserving capital.
In an effort to produce a portfolio with potential for outperformance and lower volatility, I used Morningstar CPMS*, which comprises of about 98% of the investible market cap of stocks in Canada, to create an equity strategy that picks stocks with a history of increasing dividends and also have a low beta. Lower beta stocks are less sensitive to stock market movements.
- Expected dividend growth (higher values scored better)
- 5 year normalized dividend growth (higher values scored better)
- Dividend yield of at least 1%
- Beta of 0.75 or lower (a value below 1 would indicate the stock is less volatile than the market)
To test the validity of this approach I back-tested the strategy from February, 2007, to April, 2017. During this process, a maximum of 15 stocks were purchased and equally weighted with a maximum of four stocks per sector to ensure a degree of diversification. Annually, the portfolio would be reselected based on the strategy’s criteria. Over this period, the strategy produced an annualized total return of 13.6% while the S&P/TSX composite total return index advanced 4.8%. Equally as noteworthy, downside deviation (a measure for volatility of negative returns) for the strategy was 5.5% vs. 9.8% for the S&P/TSX Composite. The lower the downside deviation indicates a lower history of “bad” volatility. You can find a list of the 15 stocks that meet our criteria below.
A Word of Warning
The results of this strategy are impressive, but I should remind you that they are based on a back-test, which comes with its own assumptions. For example, this test assumed trading with closing day prices and only at the last business day of the year. In reality you would likely trade at a different price and may transact at more frequent intervals. Also this strategy uses only quantitative data based on the factors above. I recommend that you should also regularly pay attention to news on stocks that you own and ensure that conditions of those companies are worthy for investment based on your own research.
As always, past performance (back-tested or real life) may not be indicative of future results. Nevertheless, I believe this strategy and the current list of stocks is a worthwhile consideration if you want to build a strong performing portfolio with reduced risk.
Dividend growing stocks with low beta
|Rank||Company||Sector||5-yr. dividend growth rate||Dividend yield||Expected dividend growth||BETA||Market cap ($mil)|
|1||Gildan Activewear (GIL)||Consumer Discretionary||28.7%||1.4%||18.3%||0.57||$8,601.1|
|2||Maple Leaf Foods Inc. (MFI)||Consumer Staples||27.6%||1.3%||15.8%||0.60||$4,442.9|
|3||Enghouse Systems Ltd. (ENGH)||Information Technology||24.8%||1.1%||18.5%||0.07||$1,632.4|
|4||Brookfield Inf Partner (BIP.UN)||Utilities||21.7%||4.4%||15.9%||0.67||$14,378.2|
|5||Stella-Jones Inc. (SJ)||Materials||32.7%||1.1%||10.0%||0.28||$2,890.7|
|6||Hardwoods Dist. Inc. (HWD)||Industrials||30.4%||1.4%||9.9%||0.38||$371.7|
|7||Metro Inc. (MRU)||Consumer Staples||18.9%||1.4%||11.6%||-0.15||$10,600.3|
|8||Algonquin Power Corp. (AQN)||Utilities||17.8%||4.7%||11.8%||0.44||$4,987.4|
|9||Brookfield Asset Mgmt (BAM.A)||Financials||18.8%||1.5%||10.7%||0.52||$51,195.4|
|10||Exco Technologies Ltd. (XTC)||Industrials||18.9%||2.7%||10.3%||0.59||$497.1|
|11||Agrium Inc. (AGU)||Materials||59.8%||3.9%||2.9%||0.66||$17,161.5|
|12||Enbridge Inc. (ENB)||Energy||18.6%||4.1%||10.0%||0.52||$93,157.3|
|13||Supremex Inc. (SXP)||Materials||21.2%||4.8%||6.7%||0.20||$142.1|
|14||Jean Coutu Group, A (PJC.A)||Consumer Staples||15.7%||2.3%||8.3%||-0.13||$1,784.1|
|15||Brookfield Renewable (BEP.UN)||Utilities||15.7%||6.1%||8.1%||-0.07||$7,006.4|
Source: Morningstar CPMS as of May 4, 2017
* Morningstar CPMS includes all stocks in the TSX Composite Index and the BMO Small Cap index. It also includes other stocks based on request with at least 3 analysts of coverage and 5 quarters of earnings. Currently the universe has 722 stocks in Canada.
Michael Pe, CFA is an Institutional Product Specialist at Morningstar Research Inc.