The Final Richard C. Young’s Intelligence Report

After meeting monthly strategy report deadlines since 1978, I have decided it’s time to switch gears.

The name Intelligence Report will survive, but with no contribution from Richard C. Young.

Instead, I am transitioning aggressively to full-time research on behalf of private clients of our family investment management firm, Richard C. Young & Co. Ltd.

In this expanded venture, I will completely shift away from common stock mutual funds. I will concentrate laser like on Dividends Around the World from domestic and foreign common stocks with track records of increasing dividends for at least the last decade.

The Return of Young’s World Money Forecast

Supporting my international intelligence gathering and research efforts will be the return, after nearly a four-decade hiatus, of Young’s World Money Forecast (YWMF). I will be using YWMF techniques, gathered on Wall Street in the late sixties and early seventies, to provide breaking trends years ahead of the crowd. Here I am looking at a mix of inference reading and anecdotal evidence gathering based on my annual over 15,000 domestic miles on the road as well as at least two research forays to Europe each year.

Although I will not be making my portfolio management and specific dividend stock advice available at youngsworldmoneyforecast.com, I will be presenting regularly updated and customized information on all the dividend-paying stocks I’ve advised on over the years as well as input on every stock in the DOW 30. (Check back here regularly for date of site opening.)

A veritable treasure trove of intelligence will be at your fingertips daily—thanks to our unique $30,000/year database. You’ll feel as if you have arrived at a private investment club after all the years you have spent with me and the “monthly printed word.” Among the plethora of improvements you will experience with YWMF online is an enormous timing advantage. You’ll be able to access ongoing regular and actionable dividend stock updates from me in real time, rather than wait for the archaic snail mail. That’s one of the forward looking conclusions I came to when deciding to shut down my monthly deadline and dated in-the-mail effort.

My concentration will continue, as it has been over the decades, on strictly dividend-paying, dividend-increasing stocks. I, however, am making a clean break from the common stock mutual fund universe that I have been deeply involved with since the early sixties. Many of my long-time favorites have become too big for their own good or for that matter anyone else’s. Many funds have failed to keep up on many fronts, including expenses. I abhor the stupidity and self-serving interest of multiple portfolio managers. This dreadful and obfuscating transition has everything to do with dinosaur status and size limitations rather than you the investor. I will continue researching fixed-income and balanced portfolios, where I continue to find great value in individual manager input.

Ben Graham (the all-time dividend maven) was fond of stating: “One of the most persuasive tests of high quality is an uninterrupted record of dividend payments for the last 20 years or more. Indeed the defensive investor might be justified in limiting his purchases to those (stocks) meeting this test.”

The Road Ahead in Real-Time

Well there you have it—my transformation from delayed and printed monthly copy to a rapid-fire, digital presentation (not in audio or books, of course) is now in the exciting kickoff phase.

As my online dividend intelligence program develops steam, I will be able to refine and improve upon my efforts since I am no longer constrained by a once-per-month communication. What was especially frustrating was the obvious, but perhaps not fully recognized, 10-day delay from the time I finished writing Intelligence Report to the time you, as a subscriber, received my finished report.

Today and in the future, any time I have a breaking idea, it will be available for your use immediately at YWMF. That has to have a pretty good sound to you. It sure does to me.

Thank you for your years of loyalty. I have worked diligently for over five decades on behalf of private client investors just like you. It is exciting that we can all transition together to a whole new and powerful world of compounding, (more here on compounding) profiting and sleeping soundly investing in the high-octane power of long term Dividends Around the World.

Warm regards,

Richard C. Young

P.S. I wrote in the May 2015 issue of Intelligence Report about Ronald Read, who despite working as a janitor was able to use the power of compounding to amass an $8 million fortune by the time he passed at the age of 92.

Pumping Gas to the Tune of $8 Million

Hard to even comprehend, but this great story, courtesy the WSJ’s Anna Prior, recounts how Ronald Read accumulated an estate valued at almost $8 million. Mr. Read, who passed away at the age of 92, made a modest living pumping gas for many years at a Gulf gas station in Brattleboro, Vermont.

A Five-Inch Stack of Stock Certificates

How did Ronald Read manage to become a multi-millionaire? Mr. Read invested in dividend-paying blue-chip stocks. As Ms. Prior writes, Mr. Read took delivery of the actual stock certificates and “left behind a five-inch-thick stack of stock certificates in a safe-deposit box.” At his passing, Mr. Read owned over 90 stocks and had held his positions often for decades. The companies he owned paid longtime dividends. And when his dividend checks came in the mail, Ronald Read reinvested in additional shares. Apparently Mr. Read was the master of the theory of compound interest. Not surprising, his list of stock holdings included such dividend payers as Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), J.M. Smucker (NYSE: SJM), and CVS Health (NYSE: CVS), all names I write about for you here. No high flyers for Ronald Read, and certainly no technology names.

Protect, Preserve, Patience, Perspective

Obviously Ronald Read had been a staunch practitioner of my PPPP theme, featuring the basics—Protect, Preserve, Patience, Perspective. This WSJ feature article hit the press at the perfect time for me and you, as I’ll now explain. For the first time since I created my Monster Master List—well over a decade ago—I have given the Master List of common stock names a complete overhaul. I have spent weeks in the process with the goal of giving you not only a roster of dividend payers but also a list where every core company has increased its dividend for a minimum of 10 consecutive years. I have rounded out the core list with a handful of special situation dividend payers.

Originally posted on August 14, 2017.

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Dividends Then and Now Are the Answer

I learned from Ben Graham nearly six decades ago that there’s no better way to assess an investment than the cold hard cash it returns to you in the form of dividends or interest. In September of 2012 I wrote:

While at Babson College, I studied Ben Graham’s Security Analysis. I still return to it regularly. In Chapter 35, Ben Graham writes, “For the vast majority of common stocks, the dividend record and prospects have always been the most important factor controlling investment quality and value…. In the majority of cases, the price of common stocks has been influenced more markedly by the dividend rate than by the reported earnings. In other words, distributed earnings have had a greater weight in determining market prices than have retained and reinvested earnings.” Graham concludes with, “Since the market value in most cases has depended primarily upon the dividend rate, the latter could be held responsible for nearly all the gains ultimately realized by investors.”

Always Keep It Simple

Made sense to me in the sixties and continues to make sense to me today. In fact, I attribute most of the success I have had in the investment industry to what I learned from Ben Graham nearly five decades ago.

If you haven’t already included dividends and interest as central planks of your investment strategy, I suggest you do so today.

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My Battle-Hardened Stock Market Strategy for the Worst of Times

In September of 2014, I explained to readers my battle-hardened strategy for dealing with the worst of times in the stock market. My strategy was inspired by Ben Graham, and I have used it throughout my 55-year career in investing. Here’s how it goes:

Ben Graham’s The Intelligent Investor was first published in 1949. I came in a little late in the game with my 1973 edition, which I have in front of me as I write. It is important to me that you and all of our management clients are able to sleep well, even during the periodic stock market busts that we all have to ride through from time to time. I never get out of the market; thus, I require a battle-hardened strategy to stay the course during even the worst of times. Ben Graham wrote, “An investment operation is one which, upon thorough analysis, promises safety of principal and an adequate return. Operations not meeting these requirements are speculative.” From day one, I have stuck to Ben’s foundation principle to the benefit of all our subs and clients.

Primary Concern: Conserve Principal

Ben built on his foundation principle by writing that truly professional investment advisors are quite modest in their promises and pretensions. As he noted, “The leading investment-counsel firms make no claim to being brilliant, but they do pride themselves on being careful, conservative, and competent. The primary aim is to conserve the principal value over the years and to produce a conservatively acceptable rate of return. Any accomplishment beyond that—and they do strive to better the goal— they regard in the nature of extra service rendered. Perhaps the chief value to clients lies in shielding them from costly mistakes.”

The Defensive Investor

I like to think that it is just this approach that allows our subscribers and clients to sleep well and remain comfortable that we are all on the same team. Part of the complete program is your portfolio balance. Ben Graham wrote, “We have already outlined in briefest form the portfolio policy of the defensive investor. He should divide his funds between high-grade bonds and high-grade common stocks. We have suggested as a fundamental guiding rule that the investor should never have less than 25% or more than 75% of his funds in common stocks, with a consequent inverse range of between 75% and 25% in bonds.”

With market volatility increasing, it’s time you reviewed your own strategy. You should consider a battle-hardened strategy that will protect you in the “worst of times.”

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Retirees Still Cannot Afford a Walloping

With securities markets in a heightened state of volatility, it’s a great time to ask yourself how exposed your portfolio is to risk. Most investors, if asked, would be able to provide little detail about the risks to their portfolio. If you find yourself unable to answer, that’s ok.

It’s Not Too Late, Yet

Now is the time to begin assessing the risk in your investment portfolio. If your holdings are not balanced to help you achieve your goals, you should begin shifting them as soon as possible, because, as I wrote in April 2017, retirees cannot afford a walloping.

Retirees Cannot Afford a Walloping

Back in 1989, I said, “let capital appreciation come as it will.” Unlike dividends, capital gains don’t show up every year. Since 1960, the S&P 500 has recorded 17 down years, with one of those down years coming in at a stomach-churning 38%, two in the 20%–30% loss range, and seven additional years that recorded double-digit losses. Retired or soon-to-be-retired investors simply cannot afford to get walloped with double-digit losses without a steady stream of dividend income to soften the blow. The last thing you want in a bear market is to be forced into selling shares at the bottom to fund living expenses. Steady, increasing dividends provide the cash flow and comfort necessary to ride out down markets. Investors who bail at the bottom decimate their portfolios and are forced into playing a game of “catch up” to get back to even.

You can see on my chart the return necessary to break even after incurring a loss. Losses act like reverse compound interest on your portfolio. A big loss requires an even bigger gain just to break even. To recover from the losses shown in black, an investor’s portfolio must produce the return directly to the right in blue. As you can see, a 5% loss requires a 5.3% gain to get back to even, while a 50% loss requires a 100% gain.

If you need assistance in rebalancing your portfolio, fill out the form below. You will be contacted by a seasoned professional from my family run investment counsel firm, Richard C. Young & Co., Ltd. who will perform a free, no-obligation review of your current portfolio.

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Most Investors Fail to Learn This One Thing

Through more than half a century of guiding investors in their efforts, the greatest failure I have seen is an inability to learn from history. Repeatedly market participants set unrealistic goals, use overly complex strategies in an attempt to achieve those goals, and inevitably fail. In February of 2013 I explained this phenomenon, writing:

The Needy Investor

Most investors, I’m sorry to say, are greedy, lack perspective and even a modicum of patience, and simply will not embrace the ultimate power of compound interest. I have found that too many investors fail to learn from history and attempt to use projected portfolio appreciation to make up for past beatings or to meet unrealistic spending targets. These investors are what I refer to as needy, and hope is used as their strategy. They eschew common sense and reality, and are always reaching and grasping at thin air. I have found it impossible to influence this group of investors and have long since given up the effort. Both a former Harley mechanic and my current Harley mechanic have told me that they were breaking down Harleys since they were little guys. I have watched what they do with amazement, much as I do with the many jazz musicians I have studied over the decades. Whether a Harley mechanic or a jazz musician, it’s an aptitude one is born with. The same is true for the intuitive investor. Investors like you have the propensity to do the right thing. Investors who are needy will never get on the right track.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

Your next step is on the fixed-income front. You want short maturities and short portfolio duration. On the equities side, you want solid, blue-chip dividend payers with a propensity for increasing dividends. You want entrenched blue chips featuring a high barrier to entry. You never deviate from such companies. You do not guess market swings and market-time. You swear you will be patient and not greedy. Am I clear here? You may be a genius or know a genius that has a better master plan than mine. Great. But four decades ago, Ron Hoenig hired me to work at his institutional research and trading firm where he told me that he specialized in the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle. Ron turns out to have been correct at every turn, and today, on your behalf and mine, I continue to stick with the SIMPLE approach.

In your efforts to invest successfully, I can give you no greater advice than to 1) don’t be a needy investor who sets unrealistic goals, and 2) keep your investing strategies simple and understandable. It should not be difficult for you to explain your investment strategy to your 10-year-old grandchild, let alone your spouse.

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My Answers to Two of the Most Common Investment Questions

During my 55 years in the investment business, two of the questions I have received most often while talking clients and customers, are “Should I get out of the market?” and “How should I weight my portfolio?”

The answer to the first question is easy, no. Stay invested. Jumping in and out of markets will only make you miss days you’ll wish you hadn’t.

The answer to the second question is straightforward but might take more discipline on the part of the investor to implement. It is balance. You should always aim for a portfolio that works to counterbalance risk. Here’s how I explained balance and staying invested in September 2013:

Harleys, Records, and Winchesters

It was 1957, and I owned all three. Today, 56 years later, I still have a Harley. The very same Winchester sits on a rack four feet from where I am writing to you. And my record collection could fill a closet. My current Harley is not the same old oil dripper from 1957, and my portable RCA record player has been replaced by an AR/Dyna system from the ’60s (still pretty vintage). On my desk is the single investment book I have ever relied on, Ben Graham’s Security Analysis, published 51 years ago. So a lot has stayed the same for me for over 50 years, since I first entered the investment business. There has been no reason for me to change my basic approach. I continue on making timely adjustments depending on the economic and investment climate at the time. Here is my approach in a nutshell.

As Always, Stay Invested, Stay Balanced

I rely on balance, compound interest, low turnover, dividends, and interest. That’s it. I do not market-time, and I stay invested in a finely tuned and balanced all-weather fashion. I have written in the past that I can be your economic and financial market weatherman, but I cannot be the weather. I tinker with my portfolio based on conditions as I read the daily tea leaves. I add to my portfolio to maintain balance. And I stick to a basic group of dividend- and interest-paying securities that I have followed for a long time. I invest to receive a stream of dividends for compounding. My annual returns show a general pattern of consistency with much less volatility than many other approaches.

Commit yourself to staying invested and to keeping your portfolio balanced. You’ll be glad you did.

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The Fourth—and Most Dangerous—Investment Super Cycle of My Career

I have now been working in the investment industry for 55 years, and over that time I have lived through four stock market super cycles, including the present, and most dangerous one. I explained the four cycles in March 2011, writing:

Stock Market Super cycles

I assure you, I do not plan to get gored on the next angry charge. Here is exactly how to look at things. Read and re-read what I am going to tell you here, and remember this stuff for the rest of your life. Since I got into the investment business, there have been three completed big cycles swings in the stock market. Cycle number four has now begun.

The first cycle featured a nasty run-up in interest rates that ended with the 1981/1982 recession. During this period, the T-bill rate neared 20%, and the Dow ended 1981 below its year-end 1965 level. Not so good for cycle #1.

Cycle #2 kicked off at the outset of the 1981/1982 recession and ended as the decade of the ’90s came to a close. It was a great two decades for stocks and bonds, as interest rates collapsed.

With the new century, cycle #3 got under way. It was a roller-coaster ride in interest rates: rates declined in the early years of the new century, rose in the middle of the decade, and fell back to complete a final cyclical trough. The stock market completed a volatile 10 years right back where it began, with no net gain in the decade. Cycle #3 was a loser.

OK then, in the first three stock market super cycles, we had two losers and one winner. Now what? As cycle #4 is forming, interest rates could not be lower. The cyclical bottom has passed. The rate on Fed funds is basically zero. Savers are being paid squat while the Fed fraudulently subsidizes the Wall Street banks at the expense of America’s thrifty, retired savers. It is a travesty.

That fourth super cycle is still underway. Savers aren’t being paid enough, and interest paid to savers is set to decline before it rises.

In tricky investing times like these, it is important for investors to manage risk. If you are looking for ways to do that, fill out the form below. You’ll be contacted by a seasoned member of the team at my family run investment counsel, Richard C. Young & Co., Ltd. They can conduct a no obligation portfolio review for you, examining strategies to help you avoid risk.

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Four Questions You Should Ask Before Investing in Stocks

Investing wisely demands due diligence. While there are certainly thousands of variables affecting any investment decision, narrowing down your focus with some broad questions can help you get started. In August of 2003, I encouraged investors to start with these four questions. I wrote:

Ask These Four Questions

As I’ve written, the first four questions I ask about a company concern dividend increases, share decreases, debt reductions, and cash accumulations. Many managements decry each of my benchmarks, pleading that the reinvestment of cash is best for shareholders long-term; that actual share increases, as well as the buildup in debt, bring in more capital for expansion; that cash can’t possibly be a productive asset. You and I both know that there are management teams that win with such a strategy, but there are far more that do not.

There is ample historical evidence that investors are better off with dividends. Evidence suggests that managements are far less successful in reinvesting cash than is portrayed. As for debt, Microsoft has been pretty successful sans debt. And, by the way, has a cash horde of over $46 billion (not a typo).

Scrap Growth Stocks

If you stick with my four-part formula, you will bypass most of the hot growth stories. I am not a fan of the growth-stock concept. I’ll take my four-part mini formula any day. I can assure you with great confidence that any company that increases its dividend year after year, steadily reduces its number of shares outstanding, regularly reduces its debt load, and accumulates a healthy cash horde is doing a lot of things right. This progression indicates conservative management. It’s the type of investment that makes sense for seasoned, conservative investors likely to have a strong affinity for my basic investor tenet: diversification and patience built on a framework of value and compound interest.

Learn more about my dividend focused investment philosophy in the monthly client letter of my family run investment counsel, Richard C. Young & Co., Ltd. You can sign up for the letter by clicking here. It’s free, even for non-clients.

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The Simple, Elegant Power of the Retirement Compounders

Long time readers have surely heard about my Retirement Compounders® portfolio (as well as the Dynamic Maximizers®). I don’t publicize the securities included in these strategies anymore, but they are both still integral parts of my family run investment counsel’s planning toolkit.

Here’s what I wrote about the simple elegance of the Retirement Compounders® strategy in December of 2010:

Durability, Ease of Use, and Reliability

I t was minus 5 centigrade on December first, my 72nd birthday, as we departed Kabul, Afghanistan to be joined by Special Forces ODA 594 in the 2001 hunt for bin Laden. My personal gear included one AK-47 and seven magazines of 7.62 ammo. It would be my final combat mission. So recalls Sergeant Major Billy Waugh in Hunting the Jackal. Delta Force Commander Dalton Fury in Kill Bin Laden refers to Billy (a CIA contractor) as His Majesty Sir Billy Waugh. Russian Mikhail Kalashnikov developed the AK-47 that Billy relied on in the mid-forties. To this day, it is the most popular assault rifle in the world. I have fired one and can see how the durability, ease of use, and reliability of a Kalashnikov would be such a winner for America’s most admired and certainly most senior Special Forces/CIA operator.

The Retirement Compounders Model

Ease of use, durability, and reliability, so vital in a basic firearm, have broad applicability for someone like me who specializes in the keep-it-simple school of thought. The Kalashnikov has been used worldwide for over six decades. The durable, easy to use, and reliable formula I advise for you on common stocks has been my working model for nearly five decades. It also has been the basis for Young Research’s specific Retirement Compounders model portfolio since 2003.

Astonishing Record

Look at my display of the history of the Retirement Compounders. Until this writing, I had not worked out the annual Retirement Compounders’ advantage over the S&P 500. Why not? I do not invest with the thought of beating anyone or any index. I invest to collect a high level of dividend income today and a higher level of dividend income (to offset inflation and maintain purchasing power) tomorrow—period. So in all honesty, I was astonished upon calculating the results. I knew that the RCs had a nice annual record versus the S&P 500 (Young Research posts a display on the comparison at www.youngresearch. com), but the detailed results are indeed stunning. At least I think the results are amazing, especially considering that my approach is so conservative and straightforward—sans bells or whistles. At Young Research, we do not visit managements, attend analyst meetings, participate in management quarterly reviews, or calculate company earnings projections. I, for one, could not give even a wild guess on the probable 2010 earnings for a single company on our list. And yet with our basic approach, the comparative results have been remarkable.

Simple Can Be Elegant

My Retirement Compounders model has been in place for nearly eight years. This eight-year period has been hell for investors, as each of us knows all too well. Throughout the carnage, we have not deviated one iota from our reliable dividend approach. Perhaps this is the reason our family-run investment management company has such appeal for seasoned, discerning, conservative investors. Simple can be elegant, as I have found over many decades of doing the same thing year after year.

Find a simple, elegant plan for your own investing. Avoid complex strategies that place too much emphasis on timing and prediction. Remember that any plan worth pursuing should be durable, easy to use, and reliable.

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Don’t Be a Bettor, Be a Planner

In April of 2011, I wrote:

My job is to help you separate fact from fiction and lay out a game plan for you and your family that will ensure your personal and financial security in the unstable and unsettling times that lie ahead. The broad battle plan that I’ll cover over the next few months will include the complete scope of the energy consumption/investment/personal security issue. Here is what separates what you read from me from most others: (A) I have no financial axe to grind and no ulterior motive. (B) I am not looking to make any new friends or curry favor. I am not, not surprisingly, a politician. (C) I do not work for a Wall Street investment firm with something to peddle. (D) I tell you exactly what I have done for my family and for myself and what I plan to do over the next couple of years.

I do not have all the answers, but I do have some good ones and a battle plan that will make us all more secure financially and personally. I say this to you with the enthusiasm of someone who has been researching and plotting financial strategies for nearly five decades. My strategies are suitable for all investors, but most specifically for my private management clients who are predominately conservative small-business owners and retired, or soon-to-be retired, investors. This group tends to be one that, over many decades, has accumulated substantial capital. Today the goal is to protect that capital and maintain purchasing power through all types of weather.

If you have ever ridden a motorcycle through the Dakotas, Wyoming, or Montana, you know full well that betting on the weather is a bankrupt strategy. Prepare ahead as if you do not know what is ahead, and with plenty of concern for the unknown. Have your foul-weather gear and full-face helmet on from dusk till dawn, because conditions will change without warning and become violent in a flash. Of this I am certain. Do not be a bettor, be a planner.

There is no way gambling in securities markets can prepare an investor for the devastating effects of a bear market like those seen this century. Only a systematic approach, that of a planner, not a bettor, can provide some shelter during hard times in the markets. If you would like to discuss a plan for your investments with a professional who puts your interests ahead of their own, please fill out the form below. You will be contacted by a seasoned advisor from my family run investment counsel firm, who will discuss with you ways to improve your investment plan.

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