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Entrepreneur boosts her dividend income with options

Crystal Lozowchuk, 43



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The portfolio

Baytex Energy, Canadian National Railway, Cenovus Energy, Enbridge, Keyera Corp., Pembina Pipeline, RioCan REIT, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Tim Hortons, Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald's, PepsiCo, and Exxon Mobil.

The investor

After investing in mutual funds for years, Crystal Lozowchuk opened an online brokerage account in 2008 and began buying individual stocks. "Stocks are my passion," she now says.

How she invests

Ms. Lozowchuk takes a conservative, income-focused approach to investing. She invests in mid- to large-capitalization companies with "a history of paying regular dividends that increase over time." Of these, she singles out companies with relatively low dividend-payout ratios, manageable debt and good earnings growth. Dividends are reinvested.

The crash of 2008 brought on an attitude change. "I began to focus more on patient long-term growth and short-term dividend income and ignore the volatility of the market," she explains.

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There is a twist to her dividend investing. To boost income, she'll sell put options on stocks she wants to accumulate. The proceeds from the sales augment her dividend income, and if the market price of the shares dips to the option strike price, she'll pick up some bargain-priced shares that were on her buy list.

She also sells call options against her overvalued stocks. The sales bring in extra income and if the share price rises to the strike price, she'll unload some stocks on her sell list.

Best move

"My best investment move was to create my own unique investment style rather than following generic advice provided by people in the financial industry."

Worst move

"My worst investment move was to invest in products that I did not understand. ... I was unaware that many so called 'experts' serve their own best interests at the expense of their clients."

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"Prior to investing, I would advise a person to spend a large amount of time on research. If you are too busy or do not enjoy doing your own research, just buy the index, as there is a greater degree of risk in owning individual stocks."

Special to The Globe and Mail.

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