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Investing for Gains vs. Income

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Sometimes it's hard to believe I'm 58. I feel great, I love my work and I am more productive than ever.

But the white hair doesn't lie. I'm closer to the end of my career now than I am to 50.

So my investment scheme should be changing.

For decades I've been focused on capital gains. I would buy technology stocks, or any sector where prices were moving up. I defined that bottom line by the top line, the total value of my portfolio.

Stocks like Google (GOOG) and even Amazon.com (AMZN) have been great for young investors because they delivered price appreciation. Especially Amazon -- it's up 264% over the last five years. Wish I had some.

Sometimes I have made mistakes. I fell in love with stocks and lost money. I lost money on Apple (AAPL) that way. I fell in love with the market and lost money through the Great Recession. But I hung in and, overall, I'm ahead.

Still, the tech sector is changing, just as my own investment goals are changing. A lot of tech stocks are no longer good ideas for young investors. They're for greybeards like me.

Take Microsoft (MSFT), for instance. Please.

Lots of people are dumping on the stock, but given its dividend of 23 cents a share, that just means the yield is rising. When I last checked it was at 2.95%. That's better than what you will get on many 10-year bonds.

Microsoft needs to earn about $2 billion/quarter to make that payout. It earns more than twice that, consistently. It's a safe dividend.

If you bought Apple at its April bottom you were getting a similar yield, about 3%. Now, with Apple having risen in price, that yield is down to 2.44%. But you've got a nice fat capital gain, about 24%, as well. Tech stocks you bought for gains in your 30s are those you can buy for yield in your 60s.

You can see this even more clearly in the oil patch, which I watched closely at my first job, way back in the 1970s, at the old Houston Business Journal. (The picture of me above appeared in one of their ads.)

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