Investment Strategies II – Active Investing

To continue with yesterday’s article on passive investing, lets go over the basics of active investing.

Active Investing

Active investing is where the investor is more involved with the security/stock picking and when to buy and sell.  This style of investing requires substantially more ongoing research and discipline (emotional and logical).  Although you can simply pick a mutual fund to do the active investing for you, not all active mutual fund will perform well.  In fact, as mentioned before, most active mutual funds will not even beat the index (after fees).

There are many types of active investing styles.  The ones listed below do not account for “trading” strategies, but more along the lines of longer term buy and hold.

Value Investing

Value investing is where the investor purchases companies with strong balance sheets/fundamentals that are selling for under market value for some reason or another.  As a result, the investor purchases the stock at the perceived discount and holds for the long term. This is the style that Warren Buffett uses and has had renowned success.  Note though that very few investors have been able to achieve the same success as Mr. Buffett.

I’ve written a piece on an easy to reproduce stock screen that attempts to replicate Benjamin Graham’s (Warren Buffets mentor) strategy for value investing.

If you aren’t interested in picking your own stocks due to the amount of required research, you may elect to go with an active mutual fund to do the value picking for you.  Note though that for the most part, indexing will beat active management most of the time.

Growth Investing

With this style of investing, smaller market capitalization (small cap) stocks with strong balance sheets and high growth potential are purchased in the hopes that they will experience capital growth over time.  This type of investing is much more volatile than investing in blue chips, but it also has the potential for much greater capital gain.

When I look into individual small cap stocks, I research their “story”, future prospects, current financial condition along with current valuation.  Even after extensive research, there are no sure bets, which is why I only allocate a small portion of my portfolio to small caps.

If you’re not interested in actively picking small caps, but would like to have exposure to the sector, you can look into small cap ETFs like, the Russell 2000 index ETF, IWM or even the Canadian small cap ETF, XCS.

Dividend Growth Investing

Dividend growth investing is a popular long term strategy which focuses on buying strong dividend paying blue chips which have a history of increasing their dividends.  The goal is to generate a growing income stream (and capital gain) from your portfolio that is tax efficient.

This is the strategy that I use for my leveraged portfolio where I pick my own dividend paying equities.  As the dividend achievers list is based on this strategy, you can simply purchase an ETF, like CDZ (CAD) or VIG (USD), that serves the same purpose.

Final Thoughts

I’ve only scratched the surface of active investing with the strategies above.  If you are interested in actively investing a portion of your portfolio, I would suggest that you learn how to read balance sheets along with key financial ratios.  One book that does a great job of explaining how to properly pick stocks, which I highly recommend, is One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch.

I hope you enjoyed the series on passive and active investing.  Feel free to leave your comments on the investment strategy that you use.

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FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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Canadian Finance
12 years ago

DGI, I too would lead towards dividend growth investing as more of a passive form of investing.

I think FT means it’s active in the way you analyze the stocks and are taking responsibility for your choices, as opposed to putting your money on an index fund.

Dividend Growth Investor
12 years ago

Hmm I always considered dividend growth investing a “passive” strategy. You select 30+ stocks with solid fundamentals, wide moat business, rising earnings, cashflow and then rising dividends, and you wait and reinvest your dividends.
One think I wouldn’t do is buy dividend growth ETFs or Mutual Funds, whose portfolios are pretty slow to adjust for dividend cutters or eliminators.

Oh and I also consider myself a value investor, since I do not like to overpay for companies. I also enjoy a modest “growth” in my portfolio so that my companies can sell more products, make more money and ensure a stable rising dividend payment.

Canadian Finance
12 years ago

My goals for active investing are to pick Canadian, dividend paying stocks within a Smith Manouvre.

The second form of somewhat-active investing for me will be to pick the top 4 REITs and hold the within a TFSA.

Penny Pincher
12 years ago

posted in the wrong place…

Ms Save Money
12 years ago

I think it is hard to be “Active” on investing in stocks since it’s more for people who do a lot of short selling. Most common people are passive stock traders.

Thanks for the suggestion – one up on wall street. :) I’ll check it out sometime.

Rajeev Kumar Singh
12 years ago

Very well written article explaing the various investment startegies.The best strategy in my opinion is the one that suits your investment horizon and goal. For someone like Warren Buffett, value investing is the way to go. He loves picking up stocks which have inherent value and are expected to do well consistently over a long period of time. His investment horizon is usually in decades and not in years.

12 years ago

The dividend stratgey is a good/more reliable option because you are targetting companies that are successful now rather than potentially successful in the future. These companies don’t need to be blue chips, just ones that generate healthy profits and dividends.

Of course the potential rewards are probably lower as well.

J.Chu |
12 years ago

Hi FT,

I used to active at stock trading before the global crisis killing all my portfolio down.
Now, just wait for it to recover slowly.

For long term investment, we need to see the stock which be sold under it exactly value, and for play short-term, traders prefer to play the active stocks, and of course it is very high-risk.

For choosing the devidend-stock, mostly it makes correction on market after the devidend payment.

Investing in stock is good, but we must keep learning, and well educated about it, otherwise it’s like gambling.

12 years ago

If I value the growth of dividends, what strategy do I use? ;-)
12 years ago

– an imperfect hedge, with cash-settled options, like index options, instead of ETF options or single stock options would do the trick.