Matching Investment Risks to Goals

Wall street ended the week of Thanksgiving and Black Friday with another record high as consumer staples and technology stocks lead the way. Companies such as Proctor & Gamble and Coke gained on Friday as energy stocks fell overall. Since the U.S. election, all three major indexes have hit new intraday highs and closed at record levels many times in the past few weeks. Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey explains that, “people are looking for value in the market. While many stocks have risen quite brusquely, investors are looking for some forgotten names in the rally.”

Although it’s good to see high stock prices, paper profits are not guaranteed. Unless investors sell some of their holdings and lock in some gains, their portfolios could just as easily drop in value in the next market correction. So the highest point in the stock market is also the riskiest point in a way. Since no one can accurately time the top of the markets investors should use their personal financial goals to help them decide what to do during these unprecedented times of record high stock prices. For example, they can take a look at their portfolio to determine if the sector or asset allocation is right for their personal situation.

For someone who is in his thirties, growth may be his biggest priority and his goal is to match the index of growing equities around the world. Putting money in an index fund that tracks the Russell 2000 or emerging markets ETFs may not be a bad idea. He would assume a higher degree of risk than other investors but his principal is also likely to gain the most. There may even be some room for trading and speculation to significantly increase the value of his investments by assuming a significantly higher risk. Speculation should only be done on a small scale that won’t jeopardize the entire portfolio.

But for someone in her fifties and getting ready to retire soon, investing in dividend stocks and preferred shares is probably a better strategy. Her primary goal is to generate dividend, interest or other types of income rather than seek out portfolio appreciation. Companies such as Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) would be a good candidate to add into a dividend generating portfolio. The stock inched up 0.8% rise after the company confirmed media reports that it was in talks to buy Swiss biotechnology company Actelion. JNJ has been increasing its dividends for 54 years in a row so far. JNJ is currently distributing $3.20 of dividends per share annually. With the stock price around $114 each, the yield comes out to 2.80% which is better than the 10 year U.S. government bond right now. Not only that but the stock also has a lot of growth potential as an added bonus because it’s a very profitable blue-chip company. Dividend growth and earnings growth are some of the most important metrics that investors look at when they analyze a company. The stock price is currently up 12% year to date, compared to the 6% return of the broader S&P 500 index.

And finally for someone in his sixties or seventies, the main priority might be capital preservation. This means going after safety and security. For someone who can’t afford to lose a big chunk of their net worth and are still heavily invested in stocks today, taking profits now and redirecting capital to lower risk investments like government bonds would be more appropriate. By understanding personal goals and priorities, investors can adjust their risks accordingly and better manage their portfolios at any stage of their lives.

This author is long 8 shares JNJ as of writing this post.

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