The simplest way to protect your money from Wall Street scams

From Dr. David Eifrig, MD, MBA, Editor, Retirement Trader: 

“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

Crux note: Dave often shows his readers how to collect the equivalent of a year’s worth of dividends in just a few months. His latest trading strategy is designed for steady returns – and reduced risk. It’s the perfect way to safely position yourself to capture the upside left in this bull market… Click here to learn more.

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