What is the benefit of investing in shares?

Quality shares (and managed share funds) are expected to generate higher returns than most other asset classes over the long term. The return from quality shares comprises a growing income stream as well as capital growth.

How do shares generate a growing income stream – and capital growth?

Quality shares (and managed share funds) generate a growing dividend stream for investors. As you can see in Chart 1*, the annual income generated by a $100,000 investment in shares since 1983 (with income not re-invested) started off low, but then gradually built up. In fact, last year’s income was $49,078, or 49% on the initial $100,000 investment.

The reason for the increasing dividends from shares is that quality businesses do not distribute all of their profits to shareholders. They retain some of their profit each year and use it to invest in the business – to help it grow.

If this is done well, it means they’ll have more profit the next year – from which they can afford to pay shareholders a higher dividend than they did the previous year. Plus they will again retain some profit for re-investment. So the next year their profits will hopefully be higher again, allowing the company to distribute an even higher dividend while still retaining more profit for re-investment. And even more the next year. And so on.

Of course, the more the value of the company grows as a result of the re-investment of the retained profits, the more the market will recognise this and people will pay more to buy their shares. Hence the capital growth.

Compare the income stream from shares to a well known income producing investment – the term deposit. As shown in Chart 1, a $100,000 investment
in term deposits since 1983 did well while interest rates were at historical highs, but then income dropped away to just $3,200 or 3.2% in 2016. Compare that to the $49,078 income from shares last year.

Shares C1

In fact, since 1983, the $100,000 investment in term depo sits generated a total income of just $236,250 compared to $1,180,404 from shares. Add to that the $1,287,713 in capital growth from shares – as at 1 January 2016 – and you have a total return of $2,468,117 from shares, compared to $236,250 from term deposits, as shown in Table 1.

Shares T1

What is the risk of investing in shares?

All shares and managed share funds experience volatility. Their values all go up and down – on a daily basis. That’s because shares are easily traded on the stock exchange. You can buy and sell shares almost whenever you want. The trade-off for that liquidity and convenience is a bumpy share price.

However, with quality shares (and managed share funds) you’ll notice that over time their prices go up more than they go down. And the magnitude of the price rises are generally greater than the price falls, as shown in Chart 2 of annual sharemarket returns.

As a result, over time your shares should generate solid capital growth. In fact the longer you hold your shares or managed funds the less likely you will have a negative return, as you can see in Chart 3.

Shares C3

These graphs are for illustrative purposes only. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Any advice in this document is general advice only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You should obtain financial advice relevant to your circumstances before making investment decisions. Where a particular financial product is mentioned you should consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making any decisions in relation to the product. Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of this information, Australian Unity Personal Financial Services Ltd does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information. Australian Unity Personal Financial Services Ltd does not guarantee any particular outcome or future performance. Australian Unity Personal Financial Services Ltd is a registered tax (financial) adviser. Any views expressed are those of the author and do not represent the views of Australian Unity Personal Financial Services Ltd. If you intend to rely on any tax advice in this document you should seek advice from a tax professional. Australian Unity Personal Financial Services Ltd ABN 26 098 725 145, AFSL & Australian Credit Licence No. 234459, 114 Albert Road, South Melbourne, VIC 3205. This document produced in March 2016. © Copyright 2016