Dave Van Knapp’s Dividend Growth Portfolio Business Plan

Last updated: May 10, 2018

Primary Goal of the Dividend Growth Portfolio

Build a reliable, steadily increasing stream of dividends over many years that can eventually be used as income for retirement.

Secondary Goal

Deliver total returns that are competitive with the general stock market as measured by the S&P 500 with dividends reinvested.

Portfolio Inception

The portfolio was begun on June 1, 2008 with a starting value of $46,783 funded by the author.

Additional New Money

No new outside money has been or will be added to the original amount.
That simplifies the calculation of returns, because all dividend amounts and growth are generated organically from (1) the initial investment and (2) monies generated by the original investment.

Dividend dollars, of course, enter the portfolio as they are paid by the companies. While these become dollars to reinvest within the portfolio, they are not “new outside money,” because the portfolio generates them on its own.

Dividend History

This is the portfolio’s dividend history through the end of 2017:

The portfolio’s income increased at a compound annual growth rate of 11% per year from 2009 – 2017. (2008 is ignored in the calculation, because 2008 was a partial year.)

Selecting Stocks

1. To select stocks, I use the analytical methodology described in DGI Lesson 19 on grading dividend growth stocks. Practical applications and illustrations of the approach can be seen in the Dividend Growth Stock of the Month series.

2. I purchase stocks with “Fair” or better valuations using the methodology described in DGI Lesson 11 and applied in the Valuation Zone series.

3. It is possible that a dividend-oriented ETF or two may be added to the portfolio. Prior to 2018, that was expressly excluded: The portfolio was confined to individual dividend growth stocks.

Reinvesting Dividends

1. Dividends are reinvested but not dripped.

2. When incoming cash accumulates to $1000, I will select the best candidate at that time to buy. It could be a new stock for the portfolio or more shares to add to an existing position.

3. When reinvesting dividends, I try to improve the portfolio along one or more dimensions, such as yield, company quality, dividend growth, dividend safety, diversification, and the like.

4. Since the major focus is on income and not share prices, the portfolio will usually be 100% invested (except for accumulating dividends awaiting reinvestment). Cash will not be held in efforts to time the market, because un-invested cash does not generate dividends.

Portfolio Characteristics

1. The portfolio will normally contain 20 – 30 stocks.

2. The portfolio will be well-rounded. It is diversified across economic sectors and industries. It is also diversified across a variety of yields and dividend growth rates.

3. The portfolio is meant to be a straightforward illustration of all-purpose dividend growth investing. It will not be unduly tilted either toward fast dividend growth or high yield stocks. The DGP’s yield will usually be in the vicinity of 3.5%. Its annual dividend growth rate is expected to be in the 6-8% range per year.

4. The portfolio will normally hold no more than 10% of its total value in a single stock.

5. Other than the 10% ceiling, the portfolio is agnostic on position sizing. There is no minimum size requirement. The weights of holdings will self-adjust as prices change and dividends are reinvested. Small positions may be built up through repeated dividend reinvestments in the same stock.

6. The portfolio is not rebalanced on any set schedule. However, occasionally a large position may be trimmed, with the money used to purchase or build up other positions.

Selling Guidelines

1. This portfolio is expected to have a low turnover rate. Unless there is a strong reason to sell or trim a position, the default action is to hold. The underlying strategy is to buy, collect, and hold good dividend growth stocks for long periods of time.

2. However, selling or trimming will be seriously considered if any company/stock:

(a) Cuts, freezes, or suspends its dividend.
(b) Bubbles or becomes seriously overvalued.
(c) Is impacted by significant fundamental changes.
(d) Is going to be acquired.
(e) Announces plans to split itself into 2 companies or spin off a significant portion of its operations.
(f) Sees its current yield rise above 9% or drop below 2.0%.
(g) Grows to where it is beyond 10% of the portfolio.

Strategic Reviews

1. The portfolio is reviewed from a strategic level once or twice per year.

2. This business plan is reviewed once per year and amended as appropriate.

Strategies and Practices Not Used

1. Margin.
2. Shorting.
3. Options, futures, or other derivative investments.

Key Changes to the Business Plan for 2018

This 2018 version of the Business Plan makes these changes from the prior plan:

1. The former numerical target of achieving 10% yield on cost in 10 years has been dropped. In the future, more low-yielding but fast-growing dividend growth stocks may be added that might have been overlooked in the past.

2. The phrase “over many years” has been added to the main goal to emphasize the long-term nature of this endeavor.

3. The anticipated characteristics of an overall 3.5% yield and 6%-8% per year in dividend growth have been added. They help illustrate the general-purpose nature of the portfolio.

4. The maximum number of positions in the portfolio has been increased to 30 stocks.

5. The explicit exclusion of ETFs has been dropped.