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Me and My Money

Buy-and-hold dividend investor finds peace of mind Add to ...

Steven Zussino, 34

Occupation

Client service representative at a software company.

The portfolio

Mostly dividend stocks including Bank of Montreal, Laurentian Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Sun Life Financial Inc., Exchange Income Corp. and Unilever NV ; rest in cash.

The investor

Steven Zussino began investing in 2005, using an approach that required constantly monitoring stock prices. He also had to get up at 6:30 a.m. since he was based in Victoria, in a time zone three hours behind the Toronto Stock Exchange.

This proved demanding so when a 73-year-old friend, a veteran investor, advised him to “just buy and hold,” he was easily persuaded. Mr. Zussino now has a better balance in his investing, and more time to blog at CanadianPersonalFinance.com.

How he invests

His portfolio consists of well-established, dividend-paying companies with a history of increasing dividends. “To reduce risk, I prefer investing in companies that pay a reasonable dividend and that have been around for decades,” Mr. Zussino says.

He recently bought Unilever because “it is a major consumer-staples stock that everyone is familiar with – they sell everything from Dove soap to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.” In addition to its strong product recognition, he likes the dividend yield, which is close to 4 per cent.

He also bought Sun Life Financial recently. “Even though current interest rates are low and a risk to the company, it has never cut its dividend, which currently yields 6.9 per cent,” he explains. “I am willing to hold onto this stock for the long term.”

A good move was purchasing Exchange Income Corp. in September at $16.80, after hearing about the company, which owns subsidiaries in specialty manufacturing and aviation, on Business News Network. “Having previously lived in Northern Ontario, I was aware of the lack of options for air transportation in remote communities, and saw this company as a good opportunity.” As of mid-February, the stock was trading at $25 and paid a 6.5-per-cent yield.

Best move

“I bought the majority of my financial stocks in 2009 when they were at a low because of the financial crash.”

Worst move

“My worst move was not doing enough research on labour-sponsored funds. I bought Front Street Energy Growth Fund in 2005 because of the tax credit but it has since lost more than 20 per cent of its value.”

Advice

“If you cannot explain what a company does, you should stick to investing in ETFs or low-MER mutual funds.”

Special to The Globe and Mail

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