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Volatility is the Real Price of Income

Stocks in this article: INTC HPQ WTR

Remember, the large Wall Street money managers play a game where the score is kept quarterly. Main Street investors should not keep score this way. When they do, they get spooked by volatility and make poor decisions.

Like Intel, venerable Hewlitt-Packard (HPQ), another Dow component, has seen its price swoon by nearly 35% for the year to date. But also like INTC, the cash flow it offers investors, a now healthy 3% yield, has not changed.

This income-amid-volatility is not confined to tech issuers. Even "stable" utilities have shown volatility. Take Aqua America (WTR), a water utility.

After an uneven run-up over the past year, the stock is falling again and is 6.4% off its recent highs. But since 2002, WTR has raised its dividend from 32 cents to 63 cents, nearly double. Who can say they have doubled their income in the last 10 years?

I don't think investors and retirees enjoy the volatility in the market. Unfortunately, I fear it's a fact of life for the foreseeable future.

In fact, it seems as if withstanding the volatility is the price investors must now pay to earn stable cash flows that outpace inflation.

However, I believe and recognize that this is half the battle. Because once investors understand that sustaining income is more critical than portfolio valuation, volatility is reduced to little more than a frightening nuisance.

At the time of publication the author did not own shares of INTC, HP or WTR directly. However, customers may hold these stocks indirectly through ETF, mutual fund or indexed holdings.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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