As my 20s wind down I would like to give those in their 20s and younger some advice. First, if you are in your 20s or younger and you invest and keep up with economic news and read sites like SeekingAlpha then you are to be commended. I believe you are on your way to retiring in the future as a millionaire. The most powerful thing in finance is not how much you invest or save, it's when you start investing and saving. Someone who invests and saves modestly in their 20s and younger will come out ahead of someone who invests and saves heavily who starts in their 30s.
The way to financial independence is to really just follow Benjamin Graham’s philosophy with an update for those under 30 which we will get to later on in this article. The crux of Graham’s philosophy is to maintain a mix (75%-25%) of stocks and bonds. When stocks are fundamentally cheap they should be 75% of your portfolio. When stocks are fundamentally expensive they should be 25% of your portfolio. The stocks you choose should be good companies with a history of earnings and dividends. Then automatically reinvest those dividends through a DRIP in those companies that you have chosen. Over many years this will dramatically reduce your average cost per company invested in while compounding your shares owned. The hardest thing about this strategy is controlling your emotions. You cannot be fearful when the economy is bad. You cannot be exuberant when the economy is good. You must remain even keeled, rational, and above all else you must have patience.
Below is my list of companies that make great investments for your retirement accounts along with their current yields. If you choose a basket of these companies you will also have a diversified portfolio.
Consumer Staples: McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) (2.8%), Yum!Brands (NYSE:YUM) (2.2%), Pepsi (NYSE:PEP) (3.4%), Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) (2.7%), Johnson and Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) (3.6%), Kraft (KFT) (3.4%), Proctor and Gamble (NYSE:PG) (3.3%), Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) (2.6%), Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) (4%), Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) (2.8%), Walgreen's (NYSE:WAG) (2.5%), General Mills (NYSE:GIS) (3.2%), Kellogg's (NYSE:K) (3.3%)
Integrated Oils: Exxon-Mobil (NYSE:XOM) (2.6%), Chevron (NYSE:CVX) (3.3%), Conoco Phillips (NYSE:COP) (4.1%), Total S.A. (NYSE:TOT) (3.2%), British Petroleum (NYSE:BP) (4.6%), Transocean (NYSE:RIG) (5.6%)
Financials: JP Morgan (NYSE:JPM) (3.3%), US Bancorp (NYSE:USB) (2.2%), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) (2%), First Niagra Financial Group (NASDAQ:FNFG) (6.6%), M&T Bank Corp. (NYSE:MTB) (4.1%), Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK) (2.7%)
Utilities: Exelon (NYSE:EXC) (4.8%), Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) (5.1%), Sothern Company (NYSE:SO) (4.4%), Consolidated Edison (NYSE:ED) (4.2%), American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) (4.9%), PP&L Corp. (NYSE:PPL) (4.8%)
Here is where I have upgraded Graham’s philosophy for modern day investing for those under 30. They should speculate. While, Graham said if you speculate you should keep it in a separate account that is only for speculation, but he did not believe it prudent to speculate. I think someone under 30 should have some speculation because they have more than enough time to make that money back if that investment does not pan out. If that investment does pan out, however, it could mean early retirement. For those under 30 you should not have more than 5% of your portfolio in speculative stocks in my opinion and the older you get the less you should speculate. Here are some industries and companies you can speculate in and the catalysts that could bring enormous growth.
Three of these companies are established global gaming companies, but all of them will benefit if the U.S. legalizes, regulates, and taxes online gaming. PYGMF.PK (PartyGaming) is the riskiest as it is an overseas online casino, but would probably be bought out quickly by a casino operator who does not want to take the time to develop their own site from scratch and rather enter the market immediately.
Solar, wind power and geothermal energy will have a future in a future America. Picking individual winners in this sector will be very difficult, so sticking with the ETFs or a mutual fund is probably the safest bet.
Holds promise of new and better treatments, if not cures, for diseases that have and do not have current treatments would transform health care and give those early investors big smiles if successful. For example ACTC.OB is conducting phase I/II trials for SMD and AMD in the US and Europe. Both have no treatments available are would be a $30 billion market in the U.S. and Europe alone. GERN is conducting phase I trials for spinal injuries. Paralysis currently has no treatments and would represent a $20-$30 billion worldwide market.
Fallen angels are once mighty companies that have serious doubts by investors about future profitability. An example would be Apple in the 1990s. Two current day companies that fit these criteria are HPQ and BBY. One day HPQ is leaving the PC business to be more like IBM, the next they are not leaving the PC business. The CEO was recently fired and replaced by Meg Whitman. BBY is having decreasing sales and no new hot tech product on the horizon to sell. I, however, do see longer term growth drivers for the company in the form of a new retail PC cycle, the new generation of motion sensor gaming devices, and 3D TV when the networks eventually support the technology like they did with HD TV. The beauty with these companies are that they are still profitable, cheap, and still pay a dividend, so they might not be as risky as investors think they are right now.