The Importance of Dividends and Owning Dividend-Paying Companies

In an era where technology companies dominate headlines, the allure of the new economy—driven by data, internet, and the cloud—can often overshadow what’s been the backbone of growth and stability for decades: dividends. But why should modern investors consider something as seemingly old-fashioned as dividends?
The answer involves more than just immediate cash returns; it encompasses a holistic approach to smart, stable financial planning. Let’s turn back the clock, don our bell bottoms, and hop onto the American Bandstand to delve into the 1970s, an era of high inflation and valuable investing lessons. We’ll also explore the government’s shifting focus toward investing in traditional sectors and why you might want to do the same.

The Significance of Dividend-Paying Companies

The 1970s wasn’t just a time of disco and Star Wars; it was a decade that spotlighted the value of dividends in your investment portfolio. During that period, a whopping 72% of returns came from dividend-paying companies. Fast-forward to today, and dividends account for only 16% of investment returns. This shift has largely been influenced by low capital costs, fueling growth in tech sectors with high capital requirements.

The Trap of Narrow Allocation

Currently, technology accounts for nearly half of the Russell 1000 Index, highlighting how investments have become overwhelmingly tech-focused. This prompts a significant question: Are you too heavily invested in the technology sector? Being over-leveraged in technology isn’t just a missed opportunity; it’s also a risk, especially with rising interest rates and capital costs.

Value Companies vs. Dividend-Paying Companies

Another crucial aspect to consider is the distinction between value companies and dividend-paying companies. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t synonymous. One-third of companies in the Russell 1000 Value Index, which is considered value-oriented, don’t actually pay dividends. So, if you’re looking for that robust dividend yield, ensure your portfolio includes companies that pay dividends, not just those labeled “value.”

Balancing Your Portfolio with Old and New Economy Stocks

As investors, it’s tempting to chase the “next big thing” in technology or emerging markets. However, achieving a balanced investment portfolio involves considering how new economy sectors can’t evolve without the foundational support of the old economy—everything from electricity production to roads and bridges.

The US government’s focus on infrastructure development, as seen in recent laws such as the Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, is expected to inject significant capital into the old economy. An estimated $50 billion per year is set to go toward utilities, infrastructure, construction, and other traditional sectors between 2025 and 2031. This is a reminder that the old economy serves as the backbone for all the shiny new tech to operate effectively. By following where the government’s capital flows, investors can identify strong, stable companies that promise growth and reliable dividends.

The Evolving Market Landscape

In the end, the more things change, the more they stay the same—at least in terms of what drives the market. In an era of higher capital costs, rising inflation, and increasing interest rates, the market is likely to shift from being driven by a narrow subset of companies in the technology sector to a broader base. Well-run companies with solid business models are expected to emerge as the new leaders, many of which are likely to be dividend-paying entities in older economy sectors.

So, when evaluating your investments, consider the overall dividend yield, the proportion of value companies in the mix, and the sectors you’re invested in. Knowing that one-third of the companies categorized as “value” don’t actually pay dividends, you might want to reevaluate. The aim is to ensure that your investments align with your long-term financial goals and can withstand varying economic cycles.

Contact Nelson Financial Planning

The journey through the 1970s isn’t just a nostalgic trip down memory lane; it serves as a vital lesson for today’s investors. The key takeaway is to balance the glitz and glamour of tech with the reliability and dividend yield of traditional sectors.

Nelson Financial Planning understands that achieving financial stability is a multifaceted process. If you’re interested in diversifying your portfolio in light of the government’s shifting focus toward infrastructure and older economy sectors, we’re here to guide you. We can help you change your life with a successful financial plan that provides peace of mind for the future.

Ready to get started? Contact our office in Winter Park, FL, at 407-629-6477 for more information.