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The Simplest Way to Protect Your Money From Wall Street Scams

By Dr. David Eifrig, editor, Retirement Trader
Friday, September 22, 2017

"Dividends don't lie."
It's one of my favorite Wall Street sayings. Accountants can mess with a company's books in all kinds of ways, but they can't fake a cash payment. And if a company can pay a dividend, it's almost always making money.
In the past 20 years, we've seen Merrill Lynch's Henry Blodget touting stocks he privately dismissed as crap (actually, his term was worse)... Bernie Madoff mailing phony account statements to hoodwink clients ou­t of $18 billion... corrupt lenders building a multibillion-dollar firm based on worthless "liar" loans... and that's just a sample. There's nothing new about accounting fraud.
The irony is, protecting yourself from these convoluted shell games is simple... Demand a cash dividend from your investments. It's hard to pay shareholders year after year if you're cooking the books...
A dividend is money a company pays its shareholders. Every quarter, the company counts its earnings and pays out some portion to its owners (the shareholders). Essentially, it's your cut of the profits.
Focusing on dividend-paying stocks is one of the great secrets to building wealth. I've covered this many times... But it is just as important today. That's because, fortunately, the market is giving us a rare chance to load up on some of the world's greatest dividend payers at good prices.
Many investors dismiss dividends. In fact, some alleged professional stock pickers refuse to even consider companies that pay a dividend. After all, they argue, the company should be plowing all the money back into the growing business. If the company reinvests the cash in itself, the company can grow even bigger, right? Wrong.
Here's what investors who only focus on capital gains are missing: Nearly half of your total long-term returns from investing in stocks come from dividends.
Sure, you want the company to use some of its earnings to grow... But you also want to get your money back along the way. In fact, among the most important rules to investing (along with asset allocation and position sizing) is defining your exit strategy – how will you get your money back?
When you invest in a small startup, you're happy to let your money grow as the business grows. But what happens when the growth slows? Do you sell the stock?
Not if it's still a good business. You don't want to lose out on reaping the success of the business as it evolves into a larger, steadier company.
Dividends are a simple way to pay back owners who've invested in the business. By keeping some of the money and paying the rest to shareholders, dividend-paying companies can continue their growth while rewarding shareholders at the same time.
Right now, I love those rewards. We have a rare moment in modern history when the yield on dividend-paying stocks matches the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes...
As investors reach for income and safety, they've bid down the yield for 10-year Treasury notes to historic lows – now about 2.25%. I understand the rush to safety. But giving $1,000 to the government to get $22 a year for 10 years is a poor choice, especially when there's no upside.
If you want to wait to earn $220 over 10 years, so be it. But you can do better by looking at other securities paying that same 2.2% yield or higher... investments that can offer you all the capital-gain potential of a stock and a growing income stream.
For example, last month, I recommended real estate investment trust Realty Income (O) to readers of my Income Intelligence advisory. We locked in a 4.3% annual payout. Realty Income has raised its dividend for 79 quarters in a row... nearly 20 years. It's almost impossible to have a business better managed than that.
When companies like Realty Income establish a decades-long history of paying out money to shareholders, it reflects their commitment to managing the value of the business through down times and up times.
The No. 1 fear of retirees is that inflation will erode the value of their money. If you're on a fixed income like Social Security, it's imperative to own securities that will keep up with future prices and pass some of that growth back to investors. Dividend growers are your best answer here. And as I mentioned, they have a built-in safety mechanism...
In the past 30 years, I've seen Wall Street lie and cheat... from Blodget to Madoff. The simplest, most effective way to fight back is to demand a dividend. Companies that pay dividends are sending you real money – and dividends don't lie.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig

Further Reading:

"Most people never consider how they'll get their money back," Dave writes. Dividends are just one way to get paid from your investments. Learn more here: The No. 1 Question Most Investors Forget to Ask.
To some investors, today's rising valuations might look even scarier than Wall Street fraudsters. But high valuations aren't enough to signal a crash... Read more in Dave's recent essay: When Stocks 'Just Can't Go Higher'.

Market Notes


With exposure to some of the most popular technology niches, one high-tech firm is flourishing...
Regular readers know one of our favorite ways to profit from any trend is through "picks and shovels." These companies provide the tools, products, and services vital to the success of long-term trends. Today, this $108 billion tech giant is fueling several booming developments in its industry...
Nvidia (NVDA) is a leading maker of semiconductors. These little processing chips power most of the devices we use today – for example, Nvidia is the largest maker of graphics chips used for video games. But they also have other uses... Today, Nvidia's artificial-intelligence technology – which the company calls "deep learning" – is used to teach self-driving cars to see, think, and learn. The technology is even being used in cancer research.
As you can see in the chart below, Nvidia's innovations have sent its stock on a tear. Shares have soared around 185% over the past year alone. It's more proof that in the field of cutting-edge tech, picks-and-shovels businesses can make great investments...

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