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A strong moral compass hasn’t hurt this investor’s returns Add to ...

Mary Dixon, 76


Retired author and publisher

The portfolio

Canadian Pacific Railway, Toromont Industries, Tim Hortons, Home Capital Group, Bank of Nova Scotia, Research In Motion and about 20 more stocks in various accounts.

The investor

Many seniors do crossword puzzles to keep their minds active. Mary Dixon, an avid traveller and gardener, finds that following the stock market also provides mental stimulation.

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Ms. Dixon began investing some 20 years ago with an adviser but later decided to invest on her own through an online account with Credential Direct. Over the past three years, her registered retirement income fund has “grown 11.6 per cent, even after taking out the required withdrawals.”

How she invests

“My investment approach is idiosyncratic,” Ms. Dixon discloses. “I feel fortunate to have some extra funds that can be [allocated] both to work for me and to do some small good for the companies I help capitalize.”

Some companies she doesn’t want to “help capitalize,” notably those profiting from gambling, tobacco, “dirty oil” or the “exploitation of foreign resources – human or otherwise.” Also, all her stocks are Canadian because she feels that – unlike the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and other large investors – foreign companies shouldn’t be aided “while Canadian industries go begging for capital.”

Ms. Dixon once subscribed to several investment newsletters but found they needlessly complicated investing. Like Warren Buffett, she tries to keep things simple with a buy-and-hold approach.

She still subscribes, though, to Pat McKeough’s Stock Pickers Digest. One recommendation that she bought several years ago was Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., an expanding chain of convenience stores whose stock price has more than doubled during the past two years.

Bonds are not in her portfolio because of their low yields. However, her portfolio derives some stability from a concentration of holdings in the stable, consumer products industries. And most of her stocks pay good dividends.

Best move

Several holdings have more than doubled in value in recent years, including Paladin Labs Inc., North West Co., Pason Systems Inc., and WestJet Airlines Ltd.

Worst move

“Sino-Forest!” she exclaims. Such things happen – "it’s just hard to get one’s head around it.”


“Be aware of what’s going on. Hold on to good stocks. If you can, be generous to family and to good causes.”


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