The Basic Needs Portfolio

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In May, I announced my intention to create a portfolio that embodied life's basic needs. Understandably, many of the truly basic needs in our everyday lives have transcended far beyond just the need for water and shelter. To that end, over a period of 10 weeks I detailed 10 diverse companies that I think will outperform the broad-based S&P 500 over a three-year period because of their ability to outperform in both bull and bear markets, and command incredible pricing power in nearly any economic environment.

If you'd like a closer look at what my reasoning was behind each selection, you can do so by clicking on any, or all, of the following portfolio components:

Let's look at how our portfolio of basic needs stocks fared this week.


Cost Basis


Total Value


Waste Management 










NextEra Energy















Select Medical










American Water Works





Procter & Gamble





AvalonBay Communities 









Dividends receivable




Total commission




Original investment





S&P 500 performance



Performance relative to S&P 500



Sources: Yahoo! Finance, author's calculations.

It was a generally light week when it comes to news for much of the Basic Needs Portfolio, save for one aspect -- dividends!

Dividends, dividends, and more dividends!
There's little I enjoy more than reporting that a bunch of companies in this portfolio distributed their quarterly dividends over the past Labor Day-lengthened week. As you'll notice, that previous goose egg in the dividends receivable column is now sporting nearly $33 in fresh payouts.

Intel was one such company, distributing $0.225 per share to shareholders on Sept. 1. The knock against Intel has been its need to spend heavily by pushing its focus away from PCs and moving its product line into mobile applications and cloud-based hardware. While looking like an early success, skeptics fear that increased spending will curb Intel's cash flow and hurt its profitability. Based on its history of dividend increases, as well as a timely upgrade to buy from research firm Argus which placed a $28 price target on Intel, I don't see any cause for concern.

Hospital operator Select Medical , the highest-yielding stock of this portfolio, also divvied out its quarterly payout to shareholders this past week of $0.10 a share. A big test is coming up for Select Medical in 2014 when the individual mandate portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act kicks in. If a good chunk of currently uninsured individuals sign up for health insurance, Select Medical could see its doubtful revenue fall, and it may be able to pass along these extra earnings as a meatier dividend or utilize its extra cash flow to purchase new equipment and differentiate itself from its peers.

Continuing with our theme of dividends, Ford put the pedal to the metal and delivered $0.10 a share to shareholders as of today! Ford CEO Alan Mulally doubled Ford's payout earlier this year to its pre-recession levels and the company -- minus Europe, which has been a struggle for practically all automakers -- has been firing on all cylinders globally. With growth outpacing its peers in China and its EcoBoost engine turning heads because of its fuel-efficiency without sacrificing performance, Ford's payout and profit growth seems like its back on track thanks to Mulally.

Water utility American Water Works also paid out its quarterly stipend of $0.28 a share as of today.

Going ex-div
Perhaps the next best feeling of getting your dividend placed into your stock account is the anticipation of knowing you have a payment coming. That's the feeling NextEra Energy shareholders experienced this week with the company going ex-div and $0.66 (the amount of the payout per share) was removed from the share price. Shares of NextEra have been the weakest performer thus far within the portfolio as skepticism over whether it'll get its requested price increases continues to cloud near-term growth. Based on my history of following utilities, I can say with a near certainty that NextEra will eventually get what it wants and the cash flow will continue to stream in! Shareholders can expect their $0.66-per-share payout on Sept. 16. 

Another flash crash?
Of the 10 companies comprising the Basic Needs Portfolio, I consider none safer and less volatile than consumer-goods provider Procter & Gamble . However, that notion was challenged last week, when a mini-flash crash was witnessed in P&G's share price where 175 trades were executed within one second, causing P&G's share price to fall about 5%. Although the trades were allowed to stand, P&G's share price normalized very quickly. If anything, moments like these remind us how valuable it is to buy companies you believe in and not worry about trading from one day to the next.

Back to basics
With red across the board, this certainly hasn't been a start to write home about, but this portfolio of basic needs and necessity stocks is more or less doing what I anticipated it would do prior to its inception. Over the past week this portfolio yet again outperformed the benchmark S&P 500 and we added even more upcoming dividends to the mix. While we're unlikely to see any of these 10 companies double overnight, they provide the type of stability and steady income that'll let an investor sleep better at night.

Check back next week for the latest update on this portfolio and its 10 components.

If there's one thing you'll notice about basic-needs stocks, it's that most pay a dividend -- and dividend stocks can make you rich. It's as simple as that. While they don't garner the notability of high-flying growth stocks, they're also less likely to crash and burn. And over the long term, the compounding effect of the quarterly payouts, as well as their growth, adds up faster than most investors imagine. With this in mind, our analysts sat down to identify the absolute best of the best when it comes to rock-solid dividend stocks, drawing up a list in this free report of nine that fit the bill. To discover the identities of these companies before the rest of the market catches on, you can download this valuable free report by simply clicking here now.

The article The Basic Needs Portfolio originally appeared on

Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong. The Motley Fool owns shares of, and recommends, Ford, Intel, MasterCard, and Waste Management. It also recommends Chevron and Procter & Gamble. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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