Skip to main content

Investing strictly in Canadian stocks wins you no points for diversification, but there are definite upsides.

One is that the companies are familiar and easy to follow, while another is that you avoid the sometimes destructive, sometimes helpful effects of currency fluctuations on returns from U.S. and international stocks.

Can it be possibly be a net win to ignore the 96.6 per cent of the global stock market outside Canada? Maybe if you’re investing strictly for dividend income and are taking advantage of the dividend tax credit in a non-registered account. Otherwise, you want global diversification to contribute returns at times when the resource- and financials-dominated Canadian market underperforms.

Story continues below advertisement

A Globe and Mail reader recently asked about a portfolio that is primarily devoted to Canadian stocks. “I know I should diversify more into U.S. and other global companies, but the currency exchange is holding me back,” she wrote. “Do I need to worry about exchange rates, or should I just ignore them and invest when there is a good buying opportunity? Note that I already own a couple of Canadian exchange-traded funds with U.S. holdings.”

Given that this reader is familiar with ETFs, an obvious way to deal with currency fluctuations would be to buy funds that use currency hedging. These ETFs offer the return of the underlying index, with currency distortions muted. Many investing pros avoid hedging in the belief that currency’s impact on returns over 10-plus years from foreign stocks tends to fade away. But in the shorter term, hedged ETFs remove any worries related to currency fluctuations.

Regardless of whether currency hedging is used, holding ETFs or stocks from outside Canada is a crucial means of diversification. For example, the Canadian market has only trace exposure to vibrant sectors like technology and health care, while the U.S. market is rich in both.

Investors who buy foreign stocks will need to have their Canadian dollars converted to other currencies at unfavourable rates. Forex is a big profit centre for brokerage firms. Still, the diversification benefits outweigh the negatives.

To reduce costs related to currency conversion, consider using ETFs for hedged and non-hedged foreign exposure. The exchange rate applied by the ETF company should be more competitive than the one your broker applies when you buy foreign stocks directly.

-- Rob Carrick

This is the Globe Investor newsletter, published three times each week. If someone has forwarded this e-mail newsletter to you or you’re reading this on the web, you can sign up for the newsletter and others on our newsletter signup page.

Story continues below advertisement

Stocks to ponder

Constellation Software Inc. Constellation has become by far the country’s best-performing tech stock over the past decade-plus by sticking to a rather unglamorous business model – acquiring hundreds of niche industry software providers that are typically too small for private equity firms or venture capitalists to consider. But a healthy level of potential deals at good prices is crucial for any growth-by-acquisition strategy, and Constellation has increasingly faced questions about its acquisition pipeline - especially given its sky-high valuation. Tim Shufelt reports

Automotive Properties Real Estate Investment Trust While the REIT has provided limited capital appreciation to investors since its initial public offering in 2015 (priced at $10 per unit), it offers investors an attractive yield, currently yielding 7.7 per cent with a payout ratio of 82 per cent reported in the first half of 2019. Low but steady earnings growth is anticipated to continue, driven by acquisitions. Jennifer Dowty reports

The Rundown

This indicator suggests U.S. stocks are in big trouble

U.S. equity markets are priced for a sharp recovery in profit growth that at least one leading indicator suggests is unlikely to happen. The end result is a notable increase in portfolio risk, as a continuation in sluggish earnings growth would likely result in a significant market correction. Scott Barlow explains

Story continues below advertisement

Investors, don’t give up on the Big Six

Canadian bank stocks have failed to generate any meaningful gains over the past two-and-a-half years, but don’t give up on them now. One reason to embrace this going-nowhere era: Dividend yields are above 4.6 per cent on average for the Big Six bank stocks, making the quarterly payouts hard to ignore at a time when bond yields are falling. Another reason: The banks’ third-quarter results, which rolled out at the end of August, suggest that these financial giants are doing okay even in challenging times – making the stocks looking curiously cheap. David Berman reports

Others (for subscribers)

The week’s most oversold and overbought stocks on the TSX

Friday’s analyst upgrades and downgrades

Friday’s Insider Report: CEO invests approximately $250,000 in this Big 5 bank stock

Story continues below advertisement

Thursday’s Insider Report: Chairman invests nearly $1-million in this soaring REIT

Of bazookas, bats and Brexit: World market themes for the week ahead

Climate change: These profitable dividend stocks are doing something about it

Number Cruncher: You can still find safety and value in the hot Canadian REIT sector

Globe Advisor

Are you a financial advisor? Register for Globe Advisor ( for free daily and weekly newsletters, in-depth industry coverage and analysis, and access to ProStation - a powerful tool to help you manage your clients’’ portfolios.

Story continues below advertisement

Ask Globe Investor

Question: I am trying to manage the equities mix in my portfolio based on sector. My holdings include Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (BAM.A) and Brookfield Renewable Partners LP (BEP.UN). I assume the latter is a utility but what sector does Brookfield Asset Management fall under?

Answer: As an asset manager, BAM is included in the financials sector under the GICS (Global Industry Classification Standard) system. Brookfield Renewable and fellow BAM subsidiary Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP (BIP.UN) are both classified as utilities. Brookfield Property Partners LP (BPY.UN) falls under real estate and Brookfield Business Partners LLP (BBU.UN) is classified as an industrial. Tip: To find the GICS classification of any stock in the S&P/TSX Composite Index, look up the holdings of the iShares Core S&P/TSX Capped Composite Index ETF (XIC). The list includes the GICS sector for each constituent.

--John Heinzl

Do you have a question for Globe Investor? Send it our way via this form. Questions and answers will be edited for length.

What’s up in the days ahead

Story continues below advertisement

Most investors know they’re supposed to diversify internationally. At the moment, though, that seems like a notion only a daredevil could love. Ian McGugan will take a fresh look at the argument for international diversification in Canadian portfolios.

Click here to see the Globe Investor earnings and economic news calendar.

More Globe Investor coverage

For more Globe Investor stories, follow us on Twitter @globeinvestor

Click here share your view of our newsletter and give us your suggestions.

You may also be interested in our Market Update or Carrick on Money newsletters. Explore them on our newsletter signup page.

Compiled by Globe Investor Staff

Related topics

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies