O'Shaughnessy: Keep It Simple With Shareholder Yield

You don’t need complicated strategies to beat the market. That’s what James O’Shaughnessy says in a recent column discussing shareholder yield (dividend yield plus buyback yield).

“Sometimes, a really simple approach to investing works remarkably well,” O’Shaughnessy writes in a Yahoo! Finance column. “Between January 1st, 1927 and November 30th, 2013 … an investor starting with $10,000 who simply bought the ten percent of stocks from our All Stocks Universe (All stocks with an inflation-adjusted market capitalization greater than $200 million) with the highest shareholder yield would have a portfolio worth $33,028, 684! That’s an after inflation return of 9.77 percent over nearly 87 years. Compared with someone who simply bought the All Stocks Universe, where the final portfolio value was $5,476,926, or a 7.52 percent real average annual return.”

The strategy even produced outsized returns in the 2000-2013 period, which was the worst decade for stocks in over a century. “$10,000 invested on January 1st, 2000 would grow to $40,523 (by Nov. 30, 2013), a real average annual return of 10.58 percent and nearly double $10,000 invested in All Stocks, which grew to $20,583, or a real average annual return of 5.32 percent,” O’Shaughnessy says.

O’Shaughnessy also talks about why more investors don’t follow the shareholder yield strategy. While the simple approach has produced great returns, he notes that many of the stocks it selects are either relative unknowns or controversial picks — not the high-flying glamour stocks most investor target. “It’s very difficult for non-rules based investors to willingly pony up to the bar and buy names that can be scary, yet all of the evidence shows that it is an extremely profitable way to invest,” he writes.