The stock market is selling off again, thanks to still rising interest rates and a Fed that has pretty much said that their only focus is on beating inflation.
I just published an article exploring why stocks are likely to fall about 20% more before bottoming and why this shouldn't matter to long-term income investors.
We're likely headed for a global recession, which will likely mean short-term pain, but incredible long-term gains.
But as I explain in that article, unless you're a creature of pure logic, it's natural to fear a 20% further stock decline.
Especially given the trauma so many balanced portfolios (such as 60/40) investors have experienced so far in 2022.
Through August alone, it was the worst year for a 60/40 since 1931, worse than the Tech crash and even the Great Recession.
After an investing lifetime in which the standard retirement portfolio never experienced a double-digit decline, asking the typical investor to ride out another 20% decline from here is asking more than many can stomach.
Fortunately, bonds aren't likely to keep cratering along with stocks should the market decline another 20%.
And high-yield low volatility blue-chips, especially recession and inflation-resistant ones like healthcare and consumer staples, offer a great way to stay invested and profit from the incredible bull market that will almost certainly begin a lot sooner than most of us expect.
Today I wanted to expand on that article and provide you with X world-beater high-yield low volatility defensive blue-chips that you can safely buy today.
Companies with generous, very safe, and steadily rising dividends in all economic conditions. But also companies that are likely to deliver solid long-term returns. Returns that can, as part of a diversified and prudently risk-managed portfolio, help you sleep well at night during what's likely coming next but still help you retire in safety and splendor in the decades ahead.
Let me walk you through a very simple and quick screen using the Dividend Kings 500 Master List to show how easy it is to find the best low-volatility, defensive, high-yield world-beaters, you can trust today.
I'm using the Dividend Kings Zen Research Terminal, which I use to screen for almost all of my recommendations.
|Step||Screening Criteria||Companies Remaining||% Of Master List|
|1||Select "Low Volatility" DK Watchlist (20% or lower annual volatility)||50||9.92%|
|2||Reasonable Buy, Good Buy, Strong Buy, Very Strong Buy, Ultra Value Buy (Never Overpay For Stocks)||23||4.56%|
|3||Dividend Yield 3+%||11||2.18%|
|4||8+% Consensus LT Total Return Potential||10||2.18%|
|5||81+% dividend safety score (2% or lower severe recession cut risk)||8||1.79%|
|Total Time||1 Minute|
In 60 seconds, I found the eight high-yield ultra-low volatility blue-chips perfect for today's bear market.
I've linked to articles exploring each company's growth outlook, risk profile, valuation, and return potential.
Here they are in order of lowest to highest 15-year average annual volatility.
These aren't just blue-chips they are super SWAN (sleep well at night) blue-chips with some of the safest and most dependable dividends on earth. How do we know? By comparing their quality to the bluest of blue-chips, the dividend aristocrats.
|Metric||Dividend Aristocrats||8 High-Yield Ultra Low Volatility Blue-Chips|| |
Compared To Aristocrats
|Average Recession Dividend Cut Risk||0.5%||0.5%||100%|
|Severe Recession Dividend Cut Risk||1.5%||1.6%||109%|
|Dividend Growth Streak (Years)||44.8||27.5||61%|
|Long-Term Risk Management Industry Percentile||67%||76%||113%|
|Average Credit Rating||A- Stable||BBB+ Stable||NA|
|Average Bankruptcy Risk||3.04%||3.96%||130%|
|Average Return On Capital||105%||89%||85%|
|Average ROC Industry Percentile||83%||77%||93%|
|13-Year Median ROC||89%||104%||117%|
|Discount To Fair Value||5%||14%||280%|
|DK Rating||Good Buy||Good Buy||NA|
|LT Growth Consensus||8.6%||6.2%||72%|
|Total Return Potential||11.2%||10.4%||93%|
|Risk-Adjusted Expected Return||7.6%||6.9%||91%|
|Inflation & Risk-Adjusted Expected Return||5.4%||4.7%||87%|
|Conservative Years To Double||13.3||15.3||115%|
(Source: Dividend Kings Zen Research Terminal)
These Super SWANs compare favorably with the dividend aristocrats with an average historical recession dividend cut risk of 0.5% and a severe recession cut risk of 1.6%.
Their average dividend growth streak is 28 years, making this an aristocrat portfolio.
S&P estimates their average 30-year bankruptcy risk is 4%, a BBB+ stable credit rating.
And according to Joel Greenblatt, one of the greatest investors in history, these are wide and stable moat aristocrats.
That's due to their returns on capital, or ROC, Greenblatt's gold standard proxy for quality and moatiness.
These wide-moat aristocrats have 89% ROC or 6X higher than the S&P 500.
That's in the 77th percentile of their respective industries, and their 13-year median ROC is 104%.
According to six rating agencies, their average long-term risk management is in the 76th percentile, low-risk companies with good risk management.
These 8 Aristocrats' Long-Term Risk Management Is The 95th Best In The Master List (81st Percentile)
|Classification||Average Consensus LT Risk-Management Industry Percentile|| |
|S&P Global (SPGI) #1 Risk Management In The Master List||94||Exceptional|
|Strong ESG Stocks||78|| |
Good - Bordering On Very Good
|8 High Yield Low Volatility Blue-Chips||76||Good|
|Foreign Dividend Stocks||75||Good|
|Low Volatility Stocks||68||Above-Average|
|Master List average||62||Above-Average|
|Monthly Dividend Stocks||60||Above-Average|
|Dividend Champions||57||Average bordering on above-average|
(Source: DK Research Terminal)
These aristocrats' risk-management consensus is in the top 19% of the world's highest quality companies and similar to that of such other blue-chips as
The bottom line is that all companies have risks, and these low-volatility aristocrats are good at managing theirs.
When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" - John Maynard Keynes
There are no sacred cows at iREIT or Dividend Kings. Wherever the fundamentals lead, we always follow. That's the essence of disciplined financial science, the math behind retiring rich and staying rich in retirement.
So now that you see why these are some of the best low volatility high-yield blue-chips you can own, here's why it might be worth buying some or all of them today.
It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price." - Warren Buffett
For context, the dividend aristocrats trade at about 20X earnings and the S&P 500 around 17, both close to historical fair value.
These low volatility defensive aristocrats historically trade at 21.8X earnings and today trade at a 16% historical discount of 18.3X.
Analysts expect them to deliver 18% total returns in the next year, but their 12-month fundamentally justified total return potential is 26%.
But my goal isn't to help you score a quick 18% or even 26% return in a year. My goal is to help you sleep well in this and all future bear markets while earning long-term returns that can help you retire in safety and splendor.
Not only do these high-yield low volatility Super SWANs offer one of the world's safest 4.1% yields in one of the lowest volatility packages, but they are growing at a decent rate of almost 6% and offering almost double-digit long-term return potential.
What might that mean for you?
|Time Frame (Years)||7.9% CAGR Inflation-Adjusted S&P 500 Consensus||8.1% CAGR Inflation-Adjusted 8 High-Yield Ultra Low Volatility Blue-Chip Consensus||Difference Between Inflation-Adjusted 8 High-Yield Ultra Low Volatility Blue-Chip Consensus And S&P Consensus|
|30 (retirement time frame)||$9,732.58||$10,374.71||$642.13|
|60 (investing lifetime)||$94,723.18||$107,634.63||$12,911.46|
|100 (institutional time frame)||$1,968,311.27||$2,435,492.15||$467,180.89|
(Source: DK Research Terminal, FactSet)
Over 30 years, analysts think these low volatility high-yield aristocrats could deliver 10X inflation-adjusted returns. Over an investing lifetime, they are a potential 108X bagger.
|Time Frame (Years)||Ratio Inflation And Inflation-Adjusted KEYUF Management Guidance vs. S&P consensus|
(Source: DK Research Terminal, FactSet)
No, they aren't likely to do much better than the market, but beating the S&P isn't everyone's goal.
The best way to measure your investing success is not by whether you're beating the market but by whether you've put in place a financial plan and a behavioral discipline that are likely to get you where you want to go.” - Benjamin Graham
So let me show you the glory of achieving market-level long-term 10% returns but with incredibly low volatility.
The future doesn't repeat, but it often rhymes. - Mark Twain
In our case, "past performance is no guarantee of future results."
Still, studies show that over time, blue chips with relatively stable fundamentals offer predictable returns based on yield, growth, and valuation mean reversion.
So let's take at how these 8 high-yield low volatility aristocrats performed over the last 26 years when 91% of total returns resulted from fundamentals and not luck.
Analysts expect 10% long-term returns for decades to come from these mature wide moat aristocrats. Just as they've delivered for the last quarter century.
During this time, they actually beat the S&P 500 but with 30% less annual volatility (just 11% per year).
10% to 11% average rolling returns across every time frame. Great returns but with a much smoother ride.
They are down just 10% in 2022 compared to a 60/40's -16% and the market's -17%.
In every major market crisis, they fell significantly less than the market, and in the last three major bear markets, they fell less than a 60/40.
In this bear market, they are down half as much as the S&P 500 and 7% less than a 60/40.
In fact, over a quarter century, they have only experienced a bear market once, during the 2nd worst market crash in US history.
Just take a look at what a quarter century of dependable 10% annual dividend growth can do.
And now, behold the power of dividend reinvestment.
|Metric||60/40||S&P 500||8 High-Yield Ultra Low Volatility Blue-Chips|
|Total Inflation-Adjusted Dividends||$1,000.54||$776.34||$2,533.87|
|Annualized Income Growth Rate||3.2%||8.8%||12.4%|
|Total Income/Initial Investment %||1.86||1.44||4.71|
|Inflation-Adjusted Income/Initial Investment %||1.00||0.78||2.53|
|More Inflation-Adjusted Income Than S&P 500||1.29||NA||3.26|
|Today's Annual Dividend Return On Your Starting Investment (Yield On Cost)||10.0%||12.5%||51.3%|
|Today's Inflation-Adjusted Annual Dividend Return On Your Starting Investment (Inflation-Adjusted Yield On Cost)||5.4%||6.7%||27.6%|
(Source: Portfolio Visualizer Premium)
Slow growth high-yield aristocrats? Yes. But thanks to the magic of dividend compounding, they delivered 12.4% annual income growth over the last quarter century.
They delivered 2.5X your initial investment in inflation-adjusted dividends, 3.3X more than the S&P 500. And for anyone investing in 1997, the yield on cost is now approaching 30%.
Ok, these are some amazing companies. But what if even a 25% decline in the Great Recession is too much for you?
In this article, I explain the importance of asset allocation and how combining blue-chip asset buckets can build the retirement portfolio of your dreams.
This article explains why the Dynamic Beta Managed Futures (DBMF) ETF is the Vanguard of hedge funds and my favorite way to hedge stagflation.
And here are three great 5-star rated managed futures alternatives to DBMF, for those who want active management and longer track records in their hedge funds.
So let me show you how to reduce volatility, even more, using the two best historical hedges, bonds, and managed futures.
"Stocks help us eat well, bonds help us sleep well" is a popular adage on Wall Street, and it stems from William Benson's seminal 1994 paper on the 60/40 portfolio, which created the modern 4% rule that's the basis of retirement planning.
Since WWII, 92% of the time, stocks are falling bonds are stable or going up.
That's because negatively correlated assets (vs. stocks) provide powerful hedging and diversification power for most bear markets and corrections.
But what makes bonds so wonderful (in the 82% of times, we're not in stagflation) is that they tend to deliver positive real returns.
In fact, according to a study from Duke, long bonds are the best historical hedges, in most recessionary bear markets. They go up the most during downturns and deliver the best long-term positive returns, unlike options.
So let me show you what kind of low volatility magic we can achieve if we add a 33% allocation of long-duration US Treasuries (TLT) to this high-yield ultra-low volatility portfolio.
Why 33% bonds? Because of the work of Ritholtz Wealth Management's chief data scientist, Nick Maggiulli, who has found that historically 67% stocks and 33% hedging assets are the optimal allocation to deliver strong returns and minimize bear market declines.
|Metric||60/40||Zen High-Yield Ultra Low Volatility Portfolio||X Better Than 60/40|
|LT Consensus Total Return Potential||7.3%||8.1%||1.12|
|Risk-Adjusted Expected Return||5.1%||5.7%||1.12|
|Safe Withdrawal Rate (Risk And Inflation-Adjusted Expected Returns)||2.8%||3.4%||1.21|
|Conservative Time To Double (Years)||25.8||21.3||1.21|
(Source: DK Research Terminal, FactSet)
Even with a 33% allocation to lower yielding and returning bonds (3.5% right now), this Zen High-Yield Ultra Low Volatility Portfolio offers 2X the yield of a 60/40 and nearly 1% higher long-term return potential.
And just take a look at how it helped investors sleep well at night over the last two decades.
In exchange for a little smaller annual return (it still beat the 60/40 and matched the S&P 500) investors experienced just 8% annual volatility and a peak decline of just 16% during the Great Recession.
That's 66% better negative volatility-adjusted returns than a 60/40 and almost double the Sortino of the S&P 500.
How does a 3% dip during the Pandemic crash strike you? Seems pretty SWANy to me.
In fact, in the last 15 years, this portfolio hasn't once experienced a bear market, and it's had just two corrections.
OK, but now that we're in stagflation, bonds aren't working.
18% of the time, the US is in stagflation, commodities, and gold shine. The rest of the time, they underperform or even deliver negative real returns.
Wouldn't it be amazing if you could own a blue-chip asset that knows when to go long or short, not just commodities but also stocks, bonds, and even currencies?
That's what blue-chip managed futures funds do, by going long or short these four asset classes to provide any asset's most consistent zero or even negatively correlated returns.
Since 2001 managed futures have delivered about 0.5% higher real returns than bonds (though with higher volatility).
Gold and commodities and options work sometimes but at the cost of negative real returns over decades. Bonds and managed futures deliver positive real returns and are the most effective hedging strategies ever discovered.
So now let me show you what happens when we cut our 33% hedging bucket in half and build the following Zen High-Yield Ultra Low Volatility portfolio.
|Metric||60/40||Zen High-Yield Ultra Low Volatility Portfolio||X Better Than 60/40|
|LT Consensus Total Return Potential||7.3%||8.3%||1.14|
|Risk-Adjusted Expected Return||5.1%||5.8%||1.14|
|Safe Withdrawal Rate (Risk And Inflation-Adjusted Expected Returns)||2.8%||3.5%||1.25|
|Conservative Time To Double (Years)||25.8||20.6||1.25|
(Source: Portfolio Visualizer Premium)
The yield, long-term return potential, and withdrawal rate increased by 0.1%.
In theory, we've just made a wonderful portfolio even better.
Now let's see what the historical results are.
1% higher long-term returns than a 60/40, just as analysts expect in the future. But with slightly lower annual volatility AND a 67% smaller peak decline during the 2022 stagflation bear market.
How are these portfolios doing in 2022?
1/3rd the decline of the market and a 60/40 during this stagflationary bear market.
-3% during the Pandemic, 1/4th as much as a 60/40. And down 1/3rd as much in the 2022 stagflation bear market.
In 11 years, this portfolio has never fallen more than 11%. In fact, it's suffered just one correction in over a decade.
The S&P 500 has suffered 10 corrections and 27 pullbacks, corrections, and bear markets.
Bear markets can be scary. Stagflationary bear markets can be terrifying since we haven't had one in 41 years.
But as hard as it might be to believe, this too shall pass, and the likely reward for avoiding the siren song of market timing is likely to be exceptional.
Even if the Fed doesn't defeat inflation, which the bond market and blue-chip economist consensus are confident it will, guess what? The stock market is still likely to be almost 4X higher in a decade.
It's likely to be up in just three years, a brand new bull market that will make us all feel like stock market geniuses. That is, as long as we avoid the dangerous temptation to time the market.
Trusting high-yield ultra-low volatility blue-chips like KMB, CLX, NVS, VZ, FTS, RBGLY, TU, and UGI is a great alternative to market timing.
Blue-chips like these, alone or combined with bonds and the world's best hedge funds, can help you ride out the current market storm.
But more importantly, they can help you achieve double the yield of a 60/40, while achieving superior long-term returns.
Or, to put it another way, blue-chips like these let you play defense and offense simultaneously. This is how you can generate the kind of income, income growth, and total returns that can help you sleep well today while retiring in safety and splendor in the years and decades to come.
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This article was written by
Adam Galas is a co-founder of Wide Moat Research ("WMR"), a subscription-based publisher of financial information, serving over 5,000 investors around the world. WMR has a team of experienced multi-disciplined analysts covering all dividend categories, including REITs, MLPs, BDCs, and traditional C-Corps.
The WMR brands include: (1) The Intelligent REIT Investor (newsletter), (2) The Intelligent Dividend Investor (newsletter), (3) iREIT on Alpha (Seeking Alpha), and (4) The Dividend Kings (Seeking Alpha).
I'm a proud Army veteran and have seven years of experience as an analyst/investment writer for Dividend Kings, iREIT, The Intelligent Dividend Investor, The Motley Fool, Simply Safe Dividends, Seeking Alpha, and the Adam Mesh Trading Group. I'm proud to be one of the founders of The Dividend Kings, joining forces with Brad Thomas, Chuck Carnevale, and other leading income writers to offer the best premium service on Seeking Alpha's Market Place.
My goal is to help all people learn how to harness the awesome power of dividend growth investing to achieve their financial dreams and enrich their lives.
With 24 years of investing experience, I've learned what works and more importantly, what doesn't, when it comes to building long-term wealth and safe and dependable income streams in all economic and market conditions.
Disclosure: I/we have a beneficial long position in the shares of KMB, VZ, NVS, UGI either through stock ownership, options, or other derivatives. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
Additional disclosure: Dividend Kings own KMB, VZ, NVS, and UGI in our portfolios.