Canadian Banks Make Good Foundation For Low Risk Portfolios
After a great to start to the year, the markets have hit a snag over the last few weeks. The global economic data from China to Europe to the U.S. has started to disappoint, which has caused the markets to fall from their multi-year highs in the United States and take the Toronto Stock Market into the negative territory. What should investors be doing in times like these?
The negative data seems to be rolling in daily over the past few weeks. We have seen China GDP slow to 8.1 per cent, which was below analysts' expectations. Europe continues to struggle showing signs of recession. Slow growth, high unemployment and high debt levels continue to plague some of the larger countries in Europe. Closer to home in the United States, we have seen job growth begin to slow with March numbers coming in well below expectations. The question in the U.S. becomes, "Is this a one time disappointing jobs number or a sign of things to come?"
I believe that all this negative data should be watched closely, but used as a buying opportunity until I see more negative data. I do not believe that all investments make sense to buy "on the dip." I have always championed the Canadian financial sector as a solid core holding that I would buy on any pullback. Due to the recent selloff on the Toronto Stock Exchange, most bank stocks are back paying more than a 4 per cent dividend (as of April 13th 2012).
If investors are looking to grow their portfolios in a conservative manor and receive some income (dividend rates at least two times greater than one-year GIC's or short term government bonds), the top five banks are a great investment. Financial companies represent the largest sector in our market and banks in particular have a longstanding track record of growth while increasing their dividends consistently over time. Even when times are tough like most recently in 2008, the banks still maintained their dividend payouts. At the end of this past quarter, most of the Canadian banks increased their dividends.