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Smith Manoeuvre Portfolio – April 2008

Since the beginning of MDJ, I have talked about the Smith Manoeuvre. For those of you just joining us, The Smith Manoeuvre is a wealth strategy that utilizes a home equity loan to invest in income producing assets. The result is a tax deductible loan and portfolio that increases as you pay down your mortgage.

There are quite a few Smith Manoeuvre strategies out there. The plain jane SM strategy involves investing the small credit line increases into tax efficient mutual funds. For me, I’m doing a slight twist where I’m going to use the credit line increases to fund the investment loan, thus giving me a larger lump sum to start with. Along with that, I’m going to invest in purely strong dividend paying stocks which meets the CRA “income” requirement and giving me tax efficient income to boot.

The dividends will then be used to further pay down the mortgage. If this strategy works out, according to the Smith Manoeuvre Spreadsheet, I should have my $150k non-deductible mortgage paid off in under 10 years. At that time, hopefully my dividends will have grown to the point where they can service the underlying investment loan in addition to buying me steaks when I’m feeling carnivorous.

Onto the portfolio. With the markets in it’s current state, who knows where the financials are going. I’m a little bit on the nervous side, so I’ve been simply dabbling in stocks that appear cheap to me. As you can see from the portfolio below, it’s extremely overweight in financials. I plan to diversify into energies and utilities as they (hopefully) come down in price.

StockSymbolSharesAvg Buy PriceTotalDiv/ShareAvg Yield
Royal BankRY.T50$47.23$2,361.25$24.24%
CIBCCM.T45$67.14$3,021.25$3.485.18%
Power FinancialPWF.T50$35.57$1,778.50$1.253.51%
Scotia BankBNS.T25$44.85$1,121.25$1.884.19%
Manulife FinancialMFC.T25$38.78$969.50$0.962.48%
Fortis PropertiesFTS.T50$27.30$1,365.00$13.66%
TransCanada CorpTRP.T25$36.74$918.50$1.443.92

You might be thinking that I’m crazy for buying such small lots, but since I have a bunch of free trades to use up, why not?

Hopefully, these updates are interesting to you. If there is something that you would like added to the table above, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

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FT About the author: 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.

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • The Financial Blogger April 29, 2008, 8:23 am

    I’m glad to hear that you are almost ready to start your SM :-D. Mine is going well for a few months now even though the market is not incredibly good ;-)

    That’s an interesting way of doing it. Banks dividends are so high that you will almost be able to pay your SM interest with them already.

    How much are you going to put in per month afterward? Since your buying stocks, how you going to buy them only once a year?

  • FrugalTrader April 29, 2008, 8:40 am

    Hey FB! Right now, I only have about $25k of my $60k heloc invested. I plan to buy stocks as they appear cheap, this current dip may be the best opportunity we’ll have for a while. But only time will tell.

    As to how much I plan on investing, I plan on fully investing the heloc balance. The principle paydown of my non-ded mortgage should be enough to service the heloc interest.

  • Four Pillars April 29, 2008, 9:07 am

    Interesting – my leveraged portfolio is as follows:

    500 BMO
    140 BNS
    190 CIBC
    200 IGM

    100% in financials although I have the rest of my portfolio (non-leveraged) to help balance out. I’m not planning on buying more financials though – like you I want to buy other industries.

    It’s hard to diversify in Canada…

  • FrugalTrader April 29, 2008, 9:22 am

    FP, holy smoly, i’m only a small fish compared to your portfolio!!

  • Acorn April 29, 2008, 10:12 am

    I’m sorry… I didn’t get it. This strategy have been discussed to the death already… Am I missing something new in it?

  • FrugalTrader April 29, 2008, 10:19 am

    Hey Acorn, this is simply my monthly update of my holdings within my leveraged portfolio.

  • David April 29, 2008, 10:42 am

    FT, keep giving updates. If I’m not interested in reading it, I can skip over the post. But it’s nice to be able to read along as you figure out whether this strategy works as well as Smith suggests in his book.

    I have a few questions on the dividend stocks if I may.

    1) Do trusts count? I get a form to fill out for my income tax and it says “other income”.

    2) Could you invest in something like: iShares™ CDN Dividend Index Fund? They invest in most of the same stocks you already own FT, but it may be easier for some people

  • FrugalTrader April 29, 2008, 10:51 am

    Hey David,

    1. I avoid trusts as they pay “return of capital (ROC)”. It complicates the tax deductibility of the investment loan when ROC is distributed.

    2. Yes, you could invest in an ETF that does basically the same thing. XDV and CDZ are two that I would probably look into if I weren’t picking individual stocks.

  • Daniel April 29, 2008, 11:23 am

    I invested in financial and Canadian index ETF’s. I get the diversification and I don’t need to buy large lots

  • David April 29, 2008, 11:40 am

    I hadn’t thought of ROC. I know that in the trusts I own now the ROC is very limited, but I can understand how it could be a bit more of an issue than otherwise. The plus side is they appear to pay more than the dividend rate of the banks. Hmm…

  • Dividend Growth Investor April 29, 2008, 12:18 pm

    You might also want to invest in real estate investment trusts for diversification purposes. I don’t think that they return capital..

  • Marianne O. April 29, 2008, 12:49 pm

    Thanks very much for the update. It’s helpful to watch as we just bought a house today (yippee!) but will be deferring the Smith Manoeuvre strategy until we (a) have more equity in the house (currently exactly 20%), and (b) have maxed out our RRSP contributions.

    A question for your gentle readers: do you hold the view that it’s most efficient to max out RRSPs before getting into non-tax sheltered investments? The new TFSAs may throw a wrench into that theory. Sorry I am not sure that I’ve read ALL of the SM posts & comments, so you may have addressed this question already.

    I have quite a good defined benefit pension plan through the provincial gov’t, but my husband has no pension savings, so we’re thinking of maxing out his RRSP room and then going into dividend stocks in a TFSA. Your $0.02?

  • cannon_fodder April 29, 2008, 1:01 pm

    FT,

    I’m getting close to my mortgage termination and the day I’ll be able to implement an SM. I’m leaning towards reinvesting the dividends (as opposed to apply to mortgage, reborrow and reinvest). The reason is due to 2 main factors: the drag on the performance of my investments because of commissions and the fact that some income trusts also discount the reinvestment of shares.

    I’ve updated my commercial spreadsheet version over the weekend because I was playing with various scenarios. It now includes a periodic snapshot of the cash flow required to embark upon the SM. While in your case it may only show your periodic mortgage payments, I’m probably going to do a ‘big bang’ SM where I have a HELOC that is twice the size of my mortgage principal. In my case I probably won’t be reborrowing principal payments, instead I will be paying down my mortgage to partially mitigate the risk of leverage.

    What took me awhile to figure out (because I was only looking at my own scenario) is that having the dividends paying down the mortgage is a good thing initially but weighs on the potential as time marches on. This is because once the mortgage is paid off you would have identical investment value but you would have a larger LOC which is NOT offset by the reduced cash flow.

    Until I adjusted my calculator to add the cash flow totals I would not have expected this and in fact it has taken me a lot of reviewing to even support this conclusion.

    Thus, the balance shifts from a positive position (during mortgage paydown) to a negative (at some point after the mortgage is paid off).

    I would suggest, then, that if you can find a dividend mix and broker that minimizes the drag from reinvesting outside of a DRIP plan that it might be best to “lock in” the advantage of this approach by discharging the additional LOC taken on by the application of the dividends to the mortgage.

    Feel free to post some numbers for me to plug in to the calculator and I can demonstrate what I mean.

  • cannon_fodder April 29, 2008, 1:10 pm

    Marianne,

    Just off the top of my head I would look at your husband’s marginal tax rate, the likelihood that this will be higher now than in retirement, what non-deductible debt I have and what are the interest rates on that and then I would not lean towards holding dividend paying equities in the TFSA first because they are already treated quite favourably. I would more likely hold interest income paying products. It would definitely have to be a balancing act between what is in the RRSP vs. the TFSA.

    Frankly, I would pay down the mortgage vs. putting money into a TFSA unless I can get guaranteed better returns than my mortgage interest rate or I can get superior returns with very litle additional risk.

  • FrugalTrader April 29, 2008, 1:59 pm

    Cannon, you forgot to account for “dividend growth”. The div stocks that I pick have a history of increasing their dividend over time. But you are probably right, I may end up simply reinvesting my dividends also depending on if I have other cash flow to pay down my mortgage.

    Marianne, whether to put money into an RRSP or non-registered/mortgage is entirely dependent on the scenario. For most people in higher tax brackets though, maxing out the RRSP first is a safe bet.

  • Al April 29, 2008, 4:40 pm

    Marianne,

    Don’t forget to keep a liquid reserve when considering what to put into a registered account. If you put most of your cash as a downpayment on the house (and congrats on the purchase by the way), you should build up a cash reserve soonest. After that you can consider where to put your money. If you’ve already done this, just ignore everything but the congrats.

  • Four Pillars April 29, 2008, 4:55 pm

    FP – you’ll have more than I in no time!

    Also – not sure if you want this or not but would it be possible to have each comment numbered? A time stamp would be nice too. This would be useful if you are returning to read comments but don’t want to read all of them again.

    Mike

    • FrugalTrader April 29, 2008, 7:54 pm

      FP, great idea, I will look into the comment numbering thing. Maybe you can send me the php code that does it? :)

  • Four Pillars April 29, 2008, 8:16 pm

    FT – I have no clue how do any php stuff – I can barely make modest changes to my theme.

  • FrugalTrader April 29, 2008, 9:02 pm

    Time stamp added to all comments, working on the numbering.

    edit: comment numbering now functional.

  • JR April 29, 2008, 9:11 pm

    Is that PST, central/mountain, EST or Newfoundland time?

  • DG April 29, 2008, 10:26 pm

    I’ve been doing research lately on ETFs that would be good for SM, and this article would seem to be a good place to deposit my results and ask for feedback. Here it goes:

    Claymore CDN Dividend & Income Achievers (CDZ) – As already mentioned here, a good dividend fund with about 40% in financial instituations.

    Claymore S&P/TSX CDN Preferred Share (CPD) – Good dividend at the moment, and because they are from preferred shares I expect the yield to remain more stable through good and bad times. 81% financial institutions.

    One that almost tempted me was Claymore Canadian Financial Monthly Income (FIE), which currently has a yield of over 7.5%. Upon reading the fine print it has a very high MER at 1.65%, and the dividend is fixed. If times are tough, the dividend will contain ROC. If times are great, excess underlying dividend will presumably be reinvested. Suboptimal in many ways for the SM.

    I also had a very hard time diversifying from Canadian financials because everything else just doesn’t have the yield. To alleviate diversification guilt, I am thinking my portfolio should hold at least some of these:

    Claymore 1-5 Yr Laddered Government Bond(CLF) – Bonds, currently yielding about 4%, but it is all interest (bad for tax)

    Claymore Premium Money Market (CMR) – Money fund, even lower yield, but at least it’s something different.

    iShares CDN Income Trust Sector Index Fund (XTR) Yields about 4.4% of mostly interest. Is about 60% oil/gas and the rest mostly non-financial.

    If any of these look like stupid moves, please tell me. :)

    My intention is collect quarterly revenues from these ETFs and blam them straight into my mortgage. The tax refund on the LOC should cover the tax on the revenues with some to spare (which will also go into my mortgage). I won’t buy ETFs monthly because I don’t want to incur lots of brokerage fees, and my LOC isn’t automatically readvanceable anyway (Credit Union). Maybe once a year I would advance my LOC and buy more ETFs.

    Dan.

  • Sarlock April 30, 2008, 1:03 am

    A tax related question that perhaps someone will know the answer for.

    When deducting HELOC interest against your dividend income, how does the calculation get performed? Dividends (elligible) enjoy a 145% gross up and subsequent reduction with regard to taxes, but I assume this does not apply when using it against an interest expense.

    So, in an example with $1,000 in dividends and $1,200 in interest expense, how does it work?

    Income: $1,000
    Interest: $1,200
    Net income for tax: $0 ?

    or

    Income: $1,000 x 145% = $1,450
    Interest: $1,200
    Net income for tax: $250 ?

    And then the reduction applies afterward to the $1,450: 18.9% for Canada tax, plus Provincial amount (which varies by province). This would result in a net tax refund for your dividend investments.

    If the first scenario applies, then it seems you lose the tax advantage of dividends.

    I have set up a SM spreadsheet for use for when I execute the strategy, but I am having difficulty completing the final stage of the computation (the tax part).

  • FrugalTrader April 30, 2008, 5:51 am

    Dan, some of your options seem decent for the SM. I would question the funds that have any ROC distributions and interest as both would reduce the effectiveness of the SM with regards to taxation.

    Sarlock, the dividends do not need to exceed the interest claimed in order for the interest to be deductible. Perhaps try playing around with the tax calc on taxtips.ca to find the specific answer to your question.

    Perhaps a resident tax expert can chime in?

  • Acorn May 2, 2008, 2:22 pm

    Dan, thank you for a good info.

  • DG May 3, 2008, 11:15 am

    Arg, I’ll have to retract some of my ETF picks. According to this (http://tinyurl.com/5s8dga), CPD is about 40% ROC and CDZ is about 10%. Not ideal.

    I think you can still use funds containing ROC, but you just have to keep ROC distributions in the investment or put them towards the investment loan if you do withdraw it. Unfortunately you don’t know what these ETF dividends actually consist of until you see the year end statement or get your T-Slips.

    Dan.

  • Ed Rempel May 19, 2008, 2:06 am

    Hi Sarlock,

    Your 2nd situation is right. Record the dividend income just like you normally would, and then deduct the interest.

    Ed

  • Ed Rempel May 19, 2008, 2:22 am

    Hi Dan,

    I agree with FT that you should avoid funds or income trusts that pay out ROC. This would include the income trust ETF and REIT’s. If you buy any of these, reinvest the entire distribution. Don’t pay any of it onto your mortgage.

    You should also be careful with the bond and money market ETF’s. You should also have a reasonable expectation of profit to maintain your interest deductibility. With these 2, it is obviously unreasonable to expect them to make as much as the interest cost.

    Why would you buy them with borrowed money anyway, since it is essentially a guaranteed loss?

    Ed

  • Josh May 26, 2008, 4:20 am

    I’ve been doing this for over a year now. Here are my personal findings for what it’s worth.

    First, I had a portfolio similar to yours and it got obliterated when the market corrected last year, luckily(?) I did some day trading and recovered my losses.

    Holding individual stocks I’ve found that it’s too much for me to reinvest the dividends as the trading costs reduce my dividends far too much (9.95 @ BMO).

    So I’ve switched to 4 MF’s.
    1. Dynamic Global Dividend
    2. RBC Global Dividend Growth
    3. Saxon High Income
    4. Sceptre High Income

    Hopefully the global will offset any Canadian corrections… which I hear rumblings another is afoot.

    True I’m paying a bit with the MERs there but it allows me to roll the dividends back into the investments at a smaller cost than the trading fees.Compounding is your friend.

  • Blitzkrieg October 24, 2008, 9:23 pm

    I have also been researching different dividend based options for use with the SM. After digging a bit into XDV and CDZ, I found that even though their yields look fairly attractive, the distributions are not 100% dividends. The 2007 distribution breakdown is as follows (approximately):

    XDV:
    71% eligible dividends
    18% ROC
    11% capital gains

    CDZ:
    51% eligible dividends
    10% ROC
    39% income (includes non-eligible dividends)

    I also decided to check RBC’s Canadian Dividend Fund. Since I am an RBC Direct Investing client, the MER on this fund is 1.16% (much lower than the Series A MER of 1.70%) – fairly good for an actively managed fund that has beat its index over the last 10 years. One thing I couldn’t figure out was that the dividend distribution of this fund seems quite low for a dividend fund. For 2007 the distributions were:

    1.93 capital gains
    0.21 dividends

    http://www.rbcam.com/pdf/information/seriesd/drmfdiv.pdf

    Does anybody know if the MER is deducted from the dividends? I can’t figure out how the dividend distribution could be so low otherwise.

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