Weekend Reading – High-Yield Stocks Are Not So Bad

Weekend Reading – High-Yield Stocks Are Not So Bad

Hi Folks!

Welcome to a new Weekend Reading edition – high-yield stocks are not so bad edition.

Before some details on that, a few reminders and some recent publications:

I shared some modest changes in how I intend to post all future monthly dividend income updates, and why. 

I posted why most Canadians will never need $1.7 million to retire, despite what some think unless you’re a bigger spender…

I recently shared an investor profile who is Living The Dividend Dream, making nearly $100,000 per year USD in passive income. Incredible. 

Weekend Reading – High-Yield Stocks Are Not So Bad

For the most part, consistently chasing yield is not a good idea. That approach is flawed with poor market timing, higher transcation costs and downright bad investing behaviour considering other investing alternatives. 

So, are high-yield stocks a bad thing?


In fact, investing in such stocks as part of a responsible overall portfolio could make you very wealthy. 

Don’t take my word for it. Follow the research. 

Highlighting a recent article in The Globe & Mail (paywall), by expert Norm Rothery, some excerpts:

“If you read my recent exploration of the poor returns generated by stocks with extremely high yields, you might be surprised at the 13.7-per-cent average annual return of the high-yield portfolio.”

Why does buying and holding higher-yielding stocks, tend to work?

For the same reasons the BTSX portfolio does most years. 

Beat the TSX

Good, stable, dividend paying companies are purchased at good valuations.

By default, in buying such companies with a higher yield each year via the BTSX strategy, you are seeking and buying value.

This is because of the relationship between dividend yield and stock price. Because yield is calculated as the dividend/stock price, as the stock price declines, your yield increases. So, via BTSX, you are essentially buying shares of large stable companies when their share price is (temporarily) depressed.

Norm’s research also highlighted something similar. From the article:

“The good returns are partly the result of a large number of solid dividend payers making up for a few dividend duds. Prof. French’s portfolios are also weighted by market capitalization, which means they invest more in large stocks than smaller stocks. As a result, the returns of the large stocks tend to dominate, which helps to weed out depressed stocks.

That is, stocks usually get extremely high yields after their share prices have fallen a great deal due to weak business results or worries about bad times to come. A falling share price directly pushes down a company’s market capitalization, which is calculated by multiplying its share price by the number of its shares outstanding.”

Weekend Reading – High-Yield Stocks Are Not So Bad, Right?

Of course not. 

Yet a reminder that higher-yield stocks can signal trouble too, as in the inability to sustain the dividend or distribution to shareholders. Recent evidence of that, with mounting debt on the books, was Algonquin Power (AQN). This will not be the last company that cuts their dividend or distribution this year…it happens. 

So, too much of an investing good thing is not always, well, not good!

Besides, on a practical note, investors should also consider growth.

I liken dividends and capital gains as part of total return as two sides of the same investing coin.

While both are great, it’s hard to get lots of each, there is usually a tradeoff:

  • Either you get lots of dividends / distributions and little capital gains, OR
  • You get more capital gains and less dividends / distributions. 

A great visual reference below, honest 🙂

Dividends (and distributions) are therefore one very important part of an investor’s total return. 

Honest Math - Dividends

Source: Honestmath.com

An investor could technically create their own dividend (income stream) by timing the sale of their stock shares. I’ve had that sentence on my Dividends page for 15 years now.

This may or may not appeal to some investors.

Ultimately total return matters to most. 

Can you invest in higher-yield stocks with less risk?

You bet.

There are a few Canadian index funds and exchange-traded funds that invest in high-yield stocks.

One I like in particular, is VDY (the Vanguard FTSE Canadian High Dividend Yield Index exchange-traded fund) but not without some caution. 

This fund holds 50 Canadian dividend stocks (give or take) with above-average yields (based on expected dividends). The fund has an annual fee (or MER) of 0.22 per cent, which is quite good.

The income from VDY is very appealing but not without some concentration risk in Canadian banks. Here are the top-10 holdings at the time of this post:

Weekend Reading - High-Yield Stocks Are Not So Bad

Source: VDY/Vanguard Canada.

In looking at this image, you can likely appreciate now as Canadian big banks go, so will this fund. It will be up to you to decide whether that is wise long-term or not?!

Yet, it’s hard to ignore the historical results.

I compared a few of my favourite Canadian ETFs below so you can see how the past played out.

Rather impressive and aligned to Norm’s research. 

Weekend Reading - High-Yield Stocks Are Not So Bad - Image 2

Source: https://www.portfoliovisualizer.com/backtest-portfolio

Should an investor buy and hold higher-yielding stocks? 

Depending on your investing risk, investing timeline and need for income, I personally don’t see a problem with part of your portfolio invested this way whatsoever. 

Go for it as you wish!

As always, personal finance is personal.

Besides that mantra here on my site, I will offer up another one I’ve used:

the same things that could make you wealthy might be the same things that make you poor.

Like Norm, while some Canadian stocks with some generous yields have thrived over the past few decades (and I hope they continue to do so since I own some like Norm does) I would also anticipate some lows amongst the highs in any long-term investment strategy.

Buyers must remain aware.

What say you? Do you invest in higher-yield stocks? What’s your take on the investment risk vs. reward?

More Weekend Reading…

Like my friend Rob Carrick read this past week, I also read Mr. Tako’s blogpost entitled:

Related to my high-yield stock theme above, I liked Dale’s post on Cut The Crap Investing about owning a few defensive stocks in defensive sectors for any investing age but he also focused on retirement.

Are you still hoping for a massive crypto rally in your portfolio? Looking for crypto to go to the moon?

Well, let’s just share you won’t catch billionaire investor Charlie Munger ever owning any of that stuff. 

Swearing below on national TV no less. He’s 99 folks. He can say what he wants 😉

I’ve written about cashflow being king a few times on my site over the years…so, how to make the most of your investments in retirement?

Read on: why a long-term, cash-flow driven approach to your retirement portfolio is key to success.

From Morningstar:

“The ongoing debate about an income approach versus a total-return approach continues, but in our mind it misses the point. Aftertax cash flow is most important—not necessarily how you achieve it. Specifically, retirees want to make sure they can generate enough cash flow to meet their short-term needs and any emergencies while preserving their capital base. It shouldn’t matter whether this cash flow is generated from an asset that delivers high levels of income or by reducing the capital of an asset. In both instances, the capital base remains broadly the same (a dividend reduces the price of the share by the amount of the dividend). This dynamic only changes when the tax treatment is different for income and capital.”

Our Life Financial is changing her blogging model. I look forward to staying in touch regardless. Here is her 2022 year-end update that’s worth a read for any investing inspiration in 2023 for you.

From her post, impressive:

Our Life Financial - 2022 Update

Vibrant Dreamer included a worthy Canadian dividend income roundup for January 2023. This stuff always inspires me for this simple reason: there are so many investors saving and investing on their terms to financial freedom…

A reader recently asked me how long I’ve owned Telus stock. Here is part of that answer:

Then and Now – Telus

Save, Invest, Prosper!

Save, invest, prosper and more with partnerships and active Deals on this standing page here!

Have a great weekend and thanks very much for your readership.


My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

17 Responses to "Weekend Reading – High-Yield Stocks Are Not So Bad"

  1. Nice one

    Please do a book review of this book :
    The Rees Approach: A beginner’s guide to making money in the stock market Paperback – Jan. 23 2023

    I picked this up from a recent G&M article about DIY investor and this DIY investor has a track record of 18 per cent for the past 31 years.

    You can read full article here : https://www.theglobeandmail.com/investing/markets/inside-the-market/article-chris-rees-the-self-directed-investor-who-has-outperformed-warren/

    Book link here: https://www.amazon.ca/Rees-Approach-beginners-making-market/dp/B0BSWQP3Y7

    Would be great if you can intervie him. Thanks

  2. Hi Mark: Sure CU was over many decades but FTS was only over one, ’92- ’05. Anyways investing is a long term goal and if you are looking for capital gain only then the dividends will be small or non existent in which case you are a speculator and not an investor. If I am going to invest my hard earned money than I want something in return and stocks like WCN, CNR,CSU, CT and GIB- B are just too high and pay a low yield. Mark, most of the capital gain is on paper and someone in the future will have to look after that. I’m thinking of BN especially as the ACB is around $60000.00 but the market price is $572500.00 roughly at the present. After 5 splits it doesn’t pay much in the way of a dividend but then too you have to take into account the dividend of the Manager (BAM) and the price of the stock is bound to rise also. ENB also falls into this category as the ACB is also low and the price is high but could go higher.

    1. Yes, definitely need to consider valuations/price points when buying any stock. I try and look for 52-week lows myself. I already own WCN and CNR and they should continue to rise in price over time.

  3. Thank you Mark for this great article and I have to thank the readers who comments in here, especially those who are in retirement or semi retirement mode, learning from them and reading how they manage their portfolio gives me comfort that I could also do it ! I know I can but those reassurances that I read here and there are so helpful ! Thank you guys.

  4. Hi Mark: ‘ You either get lots of dividends and small capital gain or you get more capital gain and less dividends.” Well not maybe. I bought CU in the $15- $28 range and it used to raise its dividend by $.10/ year. Soon the dividend is $.80- $1.00 higher and the stock price has climbed so the company splits the shares. This happened four times. Also I bought FTS in the mid nineties at $24.625 and it climbed into the $96.00 range. In 2005 the company split the share 4-1. As you can see you can have capital gains and increased dividends. Lloyd, the stock usually drops on the day the dividend is announced but that can soon rise thereafter. Dividends are paid with the discretion of the board and are usually the last to be paid. In Norm’s chart except for POW, SU, and AQN I have all the rest. A dividend does not reduce the price of the stock, just when the dividend goes x- dividend. I doubt that ENB’s price will drop by $.8875 on the day received. It might fall because all stocks fall but it won’t be because of the dividend. If the stock fell with the dividend then why did the stock split 3x between ’99 and ’11?

    1. Thanks, Ronald. Certainly over many decades you can absolutely earn great capital gains but such great gains really only occur in the rearview mirror. That said, I too own FTS and other stocks that deliver growing dividend income and capital gains – just not as much as you! 🙂

  5. Agreed. Also, when moving from the growth stage of investing to the income stage, shifting over to higher dividend paying holdings works. The more cash that goes to offsetting your auto payments, the better the longevity of your account. 4% in + 4% out = no movement of principal (if no movement in markets)

  6. Hi Mark, In the debate between income vs total return approach above, there should be mention of the danger of selling in down markets (and negative sequence of returns) with regard to the total return approach. As a retired dividend investor living on dividend income, I do not worry about the state of the market, my dividend income doesn’t change when stock prices go down, so this seems like a much safer approach to me.

    1. Totally: “I do not worry about the state of the market, my dividend income doesn’t change when stock prices go down, so this seems like a much safer approach to me.”

      This is where making your own dividends requires a bit of a gut check since sequence of returns risks are very real and must be avoided where possible. This is part of the reason why I want to “live off dividends” per se in semi-retirement. I don’t plan to sell a thing for the first 5-10 years of semi-retirement while working part-time.

  7. FIE looks better then VDY to me but that is personal preference.
    Less expensive to buy in and pays more. Heavily weighted in the banks and insurance companies as well.
    Charlie doesn’t pull any punches and if you think about how highly utilized Bitcoin is in commerce it makes good sense. It’s only value is speculation. For now anyway.
    Glad to see you recently bought some BCE Mark. LOL


  8. “(a dividend reduces the price of the share by the amount of the dividend)”

    In theory. In reality though, I’ve seen the price of a share rise right after a dividend distribution as well. The price of a share is based on what anyone is willing to pay/sell, not necessarily the intrinsic value of said share.


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