4 Ways To Boost Yields And Returns

On average, they're yielding 8%. That's more than three times theyield of the S&P 500. Try getting that amount from amoney market orsavings account .

But that's not the half of it. In tandem with those high yields, the capital gains have been great too. The average total return for these forty securities is 28.4%. The best performer has gained 209.1%, yet still yields more than 4.5%.

This isn't the performance of some secretindex or an exclusive hedge-fund's holdings. It's what is currently happening within the portfolios of my High-YieldInvesting advisory.

What's the secret to that sort of performance? How can you build a similar portfolio for yourself? Don't get me wrong -- I do an enormous amount of research and watch my holdings and the market like a hawk. But much of the good fortune comes from sticking to a few simple rules that you can use as well.

Over the years, these rules have proven their value inbull and bear markets. The techniques are not complicated. Anyone can follow them and potentially get the same results. So I wanted to share with you, my fellow income investors, the four basic rules I follow to build my winning High-Yield Investing portfolios. I'm confident these tips can work for you as well:

Look for high yields off the beaten path

To find exceptional returns and yields, I frequently venture off the beaten path. Some of the best yields I've found have come fromasset classes few investors know about. A case in point is Canadian REITs. These REITs delivered exceptional yields this year (some as high as 12%), but many stateside investors have never heard of them.

Other lesser-known securities I look at are exchange-tradedbonds , master limited partnerships and income deposit securities. All of these usually yield more than typical common stocks. In addition, they can also be less volatile and hold up better during market downturns.

If you're not familiar with these securities don't fret. I have -- andwill continue to -- cover them within Dividend Opportunities.

Consider alternatives to common stocks

It is a well-known fact that the vast majority of common stocks simply don't yield much. The S&P 500's average yield is only 2%.

So when I can't find the income I want from common stocks I like, I look elsewhere. My first stop is oftenpreferred shares of the same company, which almost always yield more. Say you wanted to invest in General Electric ( GE ). The commonshares of General Electric currently yield close to 4%, but you can find preferred shares of GE yielding upward of 6.5%. You still benefit from the underlying company's backing, but with a much higher yield.

Similarly, many companiesoffer exchange-traded bonds. While you don't get actual ownership of the business as you would withcommon stock , you will earn a much higher yield and have yourprincipal backed by the underlying company.

Look for securities trading belowpar value

Some of my highest returns have come from buying bonds when they trade below par value. Par value is simply theface value assigned to a stock orbond on the date it was issued. Most exchange-traded bonds (which you can buy just like a share of stock) have a par value of pernote .

But sometimes -- for instance, during a market panic -- investors indiscriminately dump these bonds, pushing their prices down. By purchasing the bonds at a discount topar , you lock in great opportunities for capital gains in addition to higher-than-normal yields.

A case in point was Delphi Financial Group 8% SeniorNotes (which have since been called). I purchased the notes in July 2009 for .27 -- a 23% discount to par value. During the 16 months I held, I collected per note in interest payments while the shares rose to their par value. In total, the notes returned more than 45%.

Sell when it's time

This rule may seem the most obvious, but it is also the most difficult to follow.

Like everyone else, I hate to admit I was wrong about aninvestment . But I find it even harder to watch losses mount as a pick falls further. That's why I'm not afraid to take a loss. I swallowed my pride and closed out several positions for losses during the lastbear market , and I'm glad I did. Continuing to hold these would have greatly reduced returns on my portfolio.

Action to Take --> I t may sound like a cliche, but knowing when to sell is just as important as knowing when to buy. A wise investor knows when to cut losses and move on to the next opportunity. If the security in question is falling with the market, I may not be worried. However, if changes in the company's operationsmean it could see rocky times ahead, then I don't want any part of it.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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