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Four years ago, in September 2011, I created a model portfolio for investors who did not want to take a lot of risk with their money. As the name suggests, it was never intended to be a big winner. The goal was to preserve capital while earning a target return of two percentage points more than the yield on a five-year GIC from the major banks. The current RBC rate is 1.5 per cent so at present we are aiming for 3.5 per cent per year.

Here is a look at the securities we hold with some comments on how they performed in the six months since my last update in mid-March. Prices are as of the afternoon of Sept. 16 except for the PIMCO fund, which is at the close of trading on Sept. 15.

iShares 1-5 Year Laddered Corporate Bond Fund (CBO-T). This short-term corporate bond ETF was chosen because of its low-risk profile and regular monthly cash flow. Because of the low-risk nature of the fund, we don't expect much of a return. However, it has been weak recently, with the trading price dropping from $19.74 in March to $19.25 now. We received distributions of 38 cents per unit that almost offset that price slippage but the bottom line was a small loss during the period. We are in the red by 0.9 per cent since this ETF was added to the portfolio.

iShares DEX Short Term Corporate Universe + Maple Bond Index Fund (XSH-T). This is another short-term ETF. It was added to the portfolio in the fall of 2013 to provide some exposure to Maple Bonds, which are Canadian-dollar bonds from foreign issuers such as Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs. The unit price is down 31 cents since March, but we received monthly distributions totalling just about the same amount so the net result for the period is a wash.

iShares Convertible Bond Index ETF (CVD-T). We added this ETF to the portfolio a year ago. It invests in bonds that are exchangeable for common stock in the issuer at a predetermined price. This gives investors regular interest payments plus an opportunity to earn a capital gain if the price of the underlying stock rises. Unfortunately, it has not gotten off to a good start for us. Over the past six months the market price fell from $18.72 to $18.23, due mainly to the weakness in the price of some of the underlying stocks. We received monthly distributions totalling 44 cents so the net result for the period was a small loss.

PIMCO Monthly Income Fund (PMO005). We added this global fixed-income mutual fund in October 2013. It offers monthly cash flow and places a strong emphasis on capital preservation. Since the last review, the unit value has slipped by 14 cents but that was more than made up for by distributions totalling about 26 cents per unit. We have a total return of 11.1 per cent so far on this one.

BCE Inc. (BCE-T, BCE-N). BCE shares bucked the downward trend in the market over the summer and moved ahead by $1.06. As well, we received two dividends of $0.65 each, giving us an overall gain of 4.5 per cent for the period. This was the only security in the portfolio to make a meaningful advance.

Enbridge (ENB-T, ENB-N). The weakness in oil prices continued to spill over into other energy related stocks and Enbridge shares lost $6.69 during the latest period. We received two dividends for a total of 93 cents per share but we are still down 9.8 per cent for the six months.

Brookfield Infrastructure Limited Partnership (BIP.UN-T, BIP-N). This Bermuda-based limited partnership invests in infrastructure projects in stable countries around the globe, including Australia, Chile, Great Britain, and the U.S. It has been a great performer for us in the past but, like the rest of the market, it has retreated recently, losing $5.15 since March. We received two dividends totaling $1.06 (U.S.) during the period.

We also received interest of $3.10 on the cash in the high-interest savings account.

Following is a summary of where we stood on the afternoon of Sept. 16. The initial book value was $10,000. At the time of my last review, the value of the portfolio, including dividends/distributions, was $13,442.32. Brokerage commissions are not factored in and the Canadian and U.S. dollars are treated as being at par (which, obviously, they are not but we do this to remove exchange rates from the performance data).

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Comments: This portfolio had been performing well beyond expectations. The past six months have brought us back to reality. The total value of the portfolio now stands at $13,193.77, including retained income and cash. That's down 1.8 per cent from last March. Over the four years since inception, we are ahead 31.9 per cent, which works out to an average annual compound rate of return of 7.2 per cent. That's well down from 8.8 per cent in March but more in line with what we might realistically expect from a portfolio of this type.

The decline in the value of our shares in Enbridge and the Brookfield Infrastructure LP has reduced the equity weighting of the portfolio to 38.6 per cent, based on market value, and boosted the bonds/cash position to 61.4 per cent.

Changes: CVD is not performing to our expectations so we will sell that position for total proceeds of $1,144.43 including retained income. We will replace it with 35 units of the iShares Canadian Universe Bond Index ETF (XBB-T). It was trading on Sept. 16 at $31.37 so our investment is $1,097.95.

We will also add 10 shares of XSH for a cost of $197.60. We'll pay for that by using the fund's retained income of $132.46 plus $65.14 from cash. Our cash reserve at the end of these transactions will be $44.30.

Readers are reminded that small trades are for portfolio modeling purposes only. Do not emulate them if commissions are involved. The best way to add small positions to a portfolio is through dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPS).

We will invest the retained income plus cash of $636.47 in a high interest savings account paying 0.8 per cent.

Here is the revised portfolio. I'll review it again in March.

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Gordon Pape is Editor and Publisher of the Internet Wealth Builder and Income Investor newsletters.