When you were a child, did someone in your family talk with you about investing in stocks? I remember a grade-school substitute teacher of mine telling the class about how she received a gift of Coca-Cola stock from her grandfather. My teacher recounted that, as a teenager, she felt proud to own the company that made the drink her friends favored when they went out for burgers and fries. I recall her telling us how she held on to that stock “forever.” She also said the value of the stock had grown more than her savings account.
I remember this teacher and her story, even though I was only 10 at the time.
As a longtime proponent of financial literacy education, when it comes to investing, I know that mentorship can be more important than a lesson plan.
That brings me to you.
In these uncertain times, wouldn’t it be nice to trigger a spark of interest in the young people in your life so that they can become investors? It doesn’t take much. It was the gift of stock that empowered my teacher to be a mentor. I heard her message and took it in. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one she influenced.
Since I make my living as a professional money manager, I don’t talk about stocks in my column unless there is a good reason for an exception and I provide a disclosure (I do own the stocks I’m mentioning in this column). Just be sure not to take this conversation as a recommendation to go out and buy any stocks I write about; pick stocks only with your financial adviser’s guidance, or, if you are a do-it-yourselfer, only after careful research.
To develop an interest and love of investing, the stock you pick for a child has to have two important characteristics: 1) The company’s products need to be recognizable by the child and 2) the company’s business needs to be sustainable, since you would want the child to have my teacher’s experience of holding on to it through good markets and bad — that’s a lesson in itself considering where we are now, during the very volatile coronavirus pandemic market.
I’m sure you can think of a few stocks that fit the characteristics I mentioned. For example, if your kids light up when you suggest a visit to McDonald’s (MCD), consider that stock. If your child brushes his or her teeth with Crest toothpaste, consider Procter & Gamble (PG).
Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Procter & Gamble are components of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index, which includes stocks that have increased their dividends for the past 25 consecutive years and have capital appreciation potential.
Studies show that stocks with rising dividends outperform others over time — with an emphasis on “over time.” The total return of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index (-23.3%) is lower for the first quarter of this year (2020) than the usually more volatile S&P 500 index (-19.6%). That can happen.
Start your research online at morningstar.com, a provider of independent investment research. Explore the AAII.com website. AAII (The Association of Individual Investors) is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to educate individual investors. At valueline.com, you’ll be able to explore stock research reports with a free trial.
You’ll find all of the stocks chosen for the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index on the standardandpoors.com website at tinyurl.com/lxk9nxp. To see the actual stocks, you have to go to the S&P 500 Index on the site, click on “Additional Info,” then click on “Indicated Rate Change” to download the Aristocrats spreadsheet.
If you are hesitant to do stock research, mentor a child on how to put money to work with a stock index fund. The oldest index fund for individual investors is the Vanguard S&P 500 Index Fund (VFINX). You’ll want to research Vanguard’s website at www.vanguard.com. Vanguard is one of the world’s largest mutual-fund companies.
There is nothing better than a gift that educates or a story that inspires.