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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

* Your Greatest Wealth Building Asset

You may think your greatest wealth building asset is the Chevron (CVX) stock you purchased 3 years ago. Even though your brilliant purchase has appreciated over 50% in the last 3 years in the face of a bear market, it is not your greatest wealth building asset.
Traditionalist would say your home is your greatest wealth building asset. This is getting closer, but it is not your greatest wealth building asset.

Others would say your income is your greatest wealth building asset. Thought there is a lot of truth to the statement, it is still not your greatest wealth building asset.

So, what is your greatest wealth building asset? Everyone is born with it. Few realize its importance until they lose most of it. The asset is so valuable it can't be bought. Your most valuable wealth building asset is time.

As a value/dividend investor, I have learned that time can cure many mistakes and provide enormous investment leverage. Consider these stocks:

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): Let's say on August 25, 1987 you purchased 1,529 shares of JNJ at $6.539/share or about $10,000 worth. This was JNJ's closing high for 1987. By December 31, 1987, your investment was only worth $7,156 - a 28% drop. It wouldn't be until June 9, 1989 before you closed above your original purchase price. However, if you held this stock and spent the dividends (which I don't recommend), it would have been worth $103,238 at the July 21, 2008 mid-day price of $67.52. This is about a 12% compound annual return, excluding dividends.

General Electric (GE): Same scenario, on August 20, 1987 you purchased 1,821 shares of GE at $5.49/share or about $10,000 worth. This was GE's closing high for 1987. By December 31, 1987, your investment was only worth $6,696 - a 33% drop. It wouldn't be until January 2, 1990 before you closed above your original purchase price. However, if you held this stock and spent the dividends (which I don't recommend), it would have been worth $50,638 at the July 21, 2008 mid-day price of $27.80. This is about an 8% compound annual return, excluding dividends.

Bank of America (BAC): You know the drill. On August 25, 1987 you purchased 1,397 shares of BAC at $7.156/share or about $10,000 worth. This was BAC's closing high for 1987. By December 31, 1987, your investment was only worth $6,025 - a 40% drop. It wouldn't be until August 5, 1988 before you closed above your original purchase price. However, if you held this stock and spent the dividends (which I don't recommend), it would have been worth $40,960 at the July 21, 2008 mid-day price of $29.32. This is about an 7% compound annual return, excluding dividends, for a stock that is currently battered and beaten.

In all three examples above, the stock was purchased at its high before the 1987 crash/panic. Some recovered more quickly than others, but all recovered. The key is to buy good-solid companies, and be prepared to hold them through the good and the bad. All three of the companies above are S&P Dividend Aristocrats, or companies that have increased their dividends in each of the last 25 years. How long should you plan on holding a stock? That's easy, To Infinity and Beyond!

At the time of this writing, I owned JNJ, GE and BAC.

(Photo: peter mueller)

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Tags: [CVX] [JNJ] [GE] [BAC]

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