The new federal budget raised the cap on tax-free savings accounts and this virtually guarantees that investors will be avidly searching for perfect investment vehicles to hide from capital gains tax. So what are they?
The ideal TFSA investment is a speculative "10-bagger" stock – one that doubles in value every year until it's worth 10 times what an investor paid. But, if I could routinely pick 10-baggers I'd be living in Connecticut and commuting to work by helicopter.
For me, global health-care stocks represent a "death and taxes" investment strategy that is an ideal option for TFSA investors. With all of the global economic uncertainty at the moment, one of the few things we know for sure is that the average age of developed world populations – particularly Canada's – will rise and this will steadily increase demand for prescription drugs, medical equipment and health-related software.
Rising demand in the health-care sector is almost guaranteed but that doesn't mean there's no investment risk. Domestically, the government will do everything it can to keep costs low and this includes squeezing suppliers and reducing their profits. Investors should adopt a diversified approach through exchange-traded funds. (Investors with higher risk tolerances looking to "shoot the lights out" in their TFSA should feel free to look at the underlying holdings of the ETFs.)
There are many ETFs offering exposure to health-care stocks. I'm particularly optimistic about orthopedic devices (for reasons I explored online here), but investors should be aware that while potential returns rise with more narrowly focused portfolios, the more volatile the ETF will be.
It's tempting to pick energy-focused ETFs as a promising TFSA option but I'm not going to. It's true, on one hand, that shale resources deplete rapidly and a scarcity of oil could reappear as soon as five years from now. But I'm not convinced the corporate financial pain from sharply lower commodity prices are fully reflected in stock values at this point.
The global technology space is the other area that appears to provide the long-term growth potential making a capital gains tax shelter such as TFSAs a good idea. Specific tech themes – the Internet of Things or cloud computing, for example – may fade but broad technological advancement has so much momentum, with so many benefits, that a major slowdown appears unlikely in the coming years.
Global markets have been struggling for organic revenue growth for a number of years but health care and technology have, so far, been largely immune from this issue and have grown strongly. The trends underlying this growth look sustainable, which makes investments in the sector ideal for TFSA investors.
Two TFSA-friendly sectors
Health care and technology ETFs are ideally positioned to benefit from the sustainable growth outlooks in their sectors, and the profits are tax-free using a TFSA.