Investing in a bank’s stock remains one of the most popular and lucrative investment options in the country. From investing in penny stocks like the marijuana penny stocks to putting money in high profile stocks of some of the country’s biggest financial institutions, stock investment is definitely a mainstay in Canada’s investment ecosystem.
Besides being one of the largest countries in the world by landmass, Canada is more than just its size. It is more than South Park, Wayne Gretzky and hockey, poutine, free healthcare and immigration. Much more.
Like Canada’s immediate neighbours to the south and a lot of other countries, Canadians are not different from anyone else. They work, make money, and like others seek to invest that money wisely to secure a financial future for themselves.
As of February 2020, Canadians had invested a total of $1.82 trillion. This accounts for a whopping 38 percent of financial wealth in Canada. Investment options are numerous in the country: ETFs, bonds and much more. This avails Canadians many ways to diversify their investment portfolio.
A Brief History of Stock Trading In Canada
The Toronto Stock Exchange, which is Canada’s primary stock exchanges, only became recognized as such in 1999. The TSX has undergone many iterations in the past leading up to its current structure. And it has certainly broken some records that have helped its reputation in its 150 years of existence.
The beginnings of this exchange trace back to the mid-1800s. It was put together by 12 Canadian businessmen who were known back then as the Association of Brokers. Nine years after its formation, in 1861, a resolution was passed formally establishing it as a stock exchange. At the time, the exchange could only handle 18 stocks trading in half-hour sessions and pitiable volumes.
A decade later, the exchange had 14 companies listed that each paid a $250 entry fee for the privilege. That entry fee would continue to rise over the years. As stock trading gained more clout, the entry fee got to $12,000 in 1901 and trading volume had burgeoned to almost a million shares daily. By 1955, it was $100,000 and three years later, the exchange added formal disclosures to the requirements for firms to list on the exchange. In its time, the TSX has changed location about five times before setting up shop at the Exchange Tower on King Street West, Toronto.
The exchange has also had its hiccups, like when it had to close its doors in 1914 due to the instability of the financial markets in the first world war. Remarkably, TSX survived the harsh realities of the stock market crash of 1929 and didn’t drop a single firm listed on its platform.
Fast forward to 1977, Toronto Stock Exchange was the first in the world to introduce computer-assisted trading. In the late 1990s, it led the way again in being the first exchange to switch from fractions to decimal trading.
The exchange also became a for-profit organization in 1999 as it obtained assent to become a public company. It has been trading its own shares since 2002 and transferred regulatory responsibilities to Market Regulation Services Inc and the Investment Dealers Association. The company has since diversified its product lineups, trading stocks like ETFs, investment funds and income trusts. It is wholly owned by its parent company TMX Group which is also home to other subsidiary exchanges like the TSX Venture Exchange.
How To Place A Stock Trade In Canada?
If there’s one place where surface analysis of an investment opportunity does not work, it is in stock trading. There is a fair amount of assessment that needs to go into picking winning investment strategies and navigating the stock market. If you do everything right, you’ll ultimately bring in more profit than you would have going it without informed knowledge or giving your money to a bank to invest on your behalf.
To be fair, the days when investing in Canada was a reserve of the wealthy are long gone. Today with as little as $500, you can start your own trading journey. You can access stock prices at the touch of a button through an online brokerage (no ticker tapes here). Commission costs have plummeted heavily over the years and now the street level investor can put money down on stocks at the price of a penny per share, thanks to Canada’s many discount brokerages such as Questrade. And you can even transit your money to USD and save heavily on fees using the famed Norbert’s Gambit strategy.
So if you’re planning to buy stock in Canada, here are the five core tips you must note to maximize your chances at success.
Open A Brokerage account
Brokerages are not a new invention; they’ve been around since the beginning of stock trading. But they’ve evolved over time to the point where anyone can trade stocks all day, every day, without ever having to leave their computer.
Strictly speaking, you don’t need a brokerage to be able to invest, but it is much harder going it alone that it just makes sense to go with one. Thankfully, Canada has a fine array of brokerage options to choose from.
Some of the more popular online brokerages like Wealthsimple Trade, Wealthbar, TD Direct Investing, Questrade, and QTrade Investor. Depending on your budget, investment portfolio and objective, your preferred brokerage could be any of these or others not mentioned here. These brokerages are majorly differentiated along the lines of annual fees, minimum investment amount, and basic trading fees.
We would recommend Questrade because of their years of selfless customer service and affordable to free investment packages. But still, the others are worth checking out.
Understand The Kind Of Stock’s You Want To Buy
There are more stock options available on the TSX and TSX Venture Exchange than most investors know what to do with. You’ll find everything from choice single stocks to ETFs that consist of only choice stocks such as the ETF built exclusively for Canada’s Big Six Banks.
But to know which stock to go with you need to ask yourself two pertinent questions:
Preferred stock or common stocks?
Limit order or market order?
The main difference between preferred and common stocks is that common stocks are much more available than preferred stocks. Also, preferred stock prices experience less volatility but a more assured, albeit lower returns. Common stocks are more volatile (higher risk) but have much higher returns.
Conventionally, an extreme majority of retail investors like yourself generally gravitate towards common stocks. Preferred are usually not even issued to individual investors; they are usually the reserve of institutional investment outfits, partly because of the tax benefits they have over common shares.
The two most basic and popular trading terminologies are market order and limit order. With a market order, you’re basically telling your brokerage to buy or sell a stock with no regard for its current price. This means it is much faster to execute than the limit order, however, liquidity can be a real sticking point in this scenario. Generally, a market order is safer if the stock being traded is a high-volume dividend stock, say like Royal Bank. Its high volume of daily trades means there are enough demand and supply to allow you to play in the waters and potentially make money. If the stock has a low trade volume, you can easily lose your investment in one fell swoop if just one trader pegs his price at a value significantly higher or lower than the current trading price.
Most of the time, you will be served better with a limit order. As the name implies, a limit places a ‘limit’ on the price you’re willing to attribute to stock during sale or purchase. In order words, you can own a $30 stock and set a sell limit on the price of $29.50 or a buy limit on the price of $31. This means your stock won’t be sold if the current trading price is below $29.50 and it won’t buy if the trading price is above $31. This helps you control the parameters of your trading, prevent unnecessary losses and improve chances of profiting.
Do Proper Stock Analysis Using The Best Metrics
Many stock investors have fallen into bad investment choices a lot of times because they do not understand the right metrics to use in evaluating a stock. In truth, stock analysis is a skill that usually takes a long time to perfect, but knowing the right metrics to look at is at least a huge step in the right direction when choosing the right stock.
P/E ratio – The price to earnings ratio is simply the result of dividing a company’s stock price by its actual earnings. This metric basically exposes how cheap or expensive a stock is.
PEG ratio – This ratio is an upgraded and more pointed version of the P/E Ratio. This metric also considers a company’s projected growth. It is gotten by dividing a company’s P/E ratio by its expected earnings growth rate. Generally, a firm with a PEG of around 1.0 is a good bet.
Debt-to-Equity – This ratio helps you to determine how much a company relies on debt to help fund its business operations. It is determined by using the shareholders’ equity to divide their total liabilities. Generally, a firm with a debt-to-equity ratio of less than 0.5 is worth considering.
Return on Equity (ROE) – This metric is gotten by dividing a company’s earnings by its shareholder’s equity. The ROE indicates how badly or well a firm is managing its shareholders’ money to generate profit. An ROE of 10% or more is considered ideal.
Earnings-per-share (EPS) – The EPS is simply the monetary value a company ascribes to its common stocks. If a company profits $200 and has 100 outstanding shares, its EPS would be $2.00. If the company lost $300, its EPS would -$3.00.
Institutional ownership – This is the number of a company’s shares (preferred stock) that is owned by pension funds, large investors, hedge funds, mutual funds etc. If institutional ownership is high, it means big analysts are confident about the company’s growth prospects, but this also prices out the retail investor. So ideally, institutional ownership of 50% is the ideal spot.
Price to book (PB) – This is gotten by dividing a firm’s market value per share by its book value per share. If a firm’s price to book is under 1.00, the firm’s stock may be undervalued.
Develop An Investment Strategy
Next thing is to decide the kind of investor you want to be. There are three major investment strategies you can fall into depending on your investment goals and risk tolerance.
Value investing – This is for the passionate investors who really want to invest in company stocks below their intrinsic value. It is very challenging and requires a robust understanding of a company’s fundamentals and exhaustive of its balance sheets, annual reports, and quarterly earnings statements. Value investing is relatively more rewarding than other investing strategies.
Income investing – This is the most popular of these three strategies and is ideal for investors who want to grow their wealth through payments. Income investing is for investors who want to put money on company stocks that pay dividends, monthly or quarterly. If the company of choice doesn’t just pay dividends but also has an assured dividend growth rate, that makes it even more ideal for investing not to mention it increases your payments. This is usually best with blue-chip companies and ETFs.
Growth investing – This type of investing entails considerable risk, but with careful planning and rich experience, it can be extremely rewarding. It is not the best for newbie investors, however. Growth investing is basically investing in the future. It usually focuses on companies in young industries (think renewable energy and 5G) that have a healthy growth prospect and will likely provide returns above the market average. These companies do not pay out dividends and instead deploy revenue and profit on expansion and acquisition projects.
Develop an investor’s mentality – Most newbie investors are usually caught in the vicious cycle of buying stocks that are performing well and selling them at their lows. To develop an investor mindset, you must be able to live above this “fear investing” syndrome and plan to invest for the long term.
In the stock market, long term investment will usually take decades to reap the full rewards and those rewards are usually worth the wait. To build your wealth progressively, you can set out an amount every week, every fortnight or monthly and add it into your investment account. This method will help you build resistance against impulse/fear investing and build your own success.
Canada’s Big 5 Banks Stock Review & Analysis
For those investors that are drawn more towards investing in stocks in the financial industry, any or all of Canada’s big five banks could be ideal as an investment choice. Here we have outlined the ‘Big 5’ traditional banks in Canada. You’ll also find a bit about their history as well as how their stock prices and the dividend has performed on the Toronto Stock Exchange in the past 20 years.
1. Scotiabank (Bank of Nova Scotia)
Established as Canada’s first public bank in 1832, Bank of Nova Scotia is the country’s third-largest chartered bank while it tops every other Canadian bank in terms of its international presence. Known now as Scotiabank, the institution has a presence in countries Colombia, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Jamaica, Uruguay, Guatemala, Mexico, Dominican Republic and more.
The bank has a number of achievements under its belt. It is the first Canadian bank to establish a presence outside the US and Europe. It was also the first to appoint female branch managers and the first bank to import gold into Canada.
Scotiabank currently operates hundreds of branches and employs over 97,500 people to serve its over 25 million customers. The bank’s strategic growth by acquisition has worked marvellously for over 150 years and has brought big names like CI Financial Income Fund (sold in 2014) and Tangerine Bank, one of the biggest online-only banks in the country.
As of 2018, Scotiabank posted revenue of $28.8 billion and a profit of $9.1 billion. They also controlled $998.5 billion in assets.
How has the Scotiabank stock and dividend performed?
Scotiabank trades on the TSX with the designation ‘BNS’. Since 2000, the bank has done well for itself in terms of stock performance. In 2000, the stock price closed for the year at $13.33 and in 2019, the closing stock price was $56.49. That’s a whopping percentage increase of 323.71% in 20 years. BNS did have some rough years and some really good years. It’s the worst year in the last twenty is 2008. It lost 46.14% of its stock value that year (opened at $49.08, closed at $26.70). The very next year marked its best percentage growth of 71.84% (opened at $26.79, closed at $45.88).
The year 2020 opened at $56.72, but as of March 27, 2020, Scotiabank’s stock price is pegged at $38.74. This is thanks in no small part to a really rough year highlighted by the global economic turmoil brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Scotiabank’s dividend has been increasing steadily over the years. After the third quarter of 2019, the dividend went from $0.87 to $0.90, that’s a $0.03 increase in the dividend. It’s 2019 dividend yield was 6.46% and the annual dividend was $3.54.
2. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
This isn’t the oldest bank in the country, but it is inarguably the largest chartered bank that Canada can boast about. With diversified operations in 36 countries, RBC has threaded a largely successful path since its establishment in 1864.
Like Scotiabank, Royal Bank of Canada was started in Halifax. Back then, it was a private, unchartered commercial bank known as the Merchants Bank of Halifax. It was until RBC received its federal charter in 1869 that it transited to a public company and started massive expansions throughout the rest of the 1800s.
RBC listed on the Montreal exchange in 1893 and established its first international branch in 1882 in Bermuda, and in Havana, Cuba, 17 years later. The official name change to The Royal Bank of Canada happened in 1901 as part of its repositioning and development plans. The early 1900s was a wonderful time for the bank as it finally gained a presence in every province, and made a few strategic merger and acquisition deals, a strategy that it has continued to deploy to this day. In 1929, RBC made history as the first bank in Canada to record assets above the $1 billion mark.
RBC has interests in personal and commercial banking, wealth management, capital markets, insurance, and investor and treasury services. It currently has over 84,000 employees worldwide serving over 16 million customers. And as of 2019, it recorded a revenue of $46 billion, and a $9.67 billion profit while controlling an asset value of $1.49 trillion.
How has the RBC stock and dividend performed?
RBC trades on the TSX with the designation ‘RY’. In 2000, the stock price closed for the year at $16.94 and in 2019, the closing stock price was $79.20. That’s a whopping percentage increase of 367.53% in 20 years. RBC did have some rough years and some really good years. It’s the worst year in the last twenty is 2008. It lost 41.89% of its stock value that year (opened at $50.58, closed at $29.66). The very next year marked its best percentage growth of 80.55% (opened at $30.34, closed at $53.55).
The year 2020 opened at $79.70 but as of March 27, 2020, Royal Bank of Canada’s stock price is pegged at $58.98. This is thanks in no small part to a really rough year highlighted by the global economic turmoil brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. RBC’s dividend has been increasing steadily over the years. It surpassed $1 in the first quarter of 2019.
After the fourth quarter of 2019, the dividend went from $1.05 to $1.08, that’s a $0.03 increase in the dividend. Its 2019 dividend yield was 4.88%, its average dividend growth in the past three years stands at 6.24%, and its annual dividend for 2019 was $4.14.
3. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
The road to greatness for CIBC started is different from the stories of RBC and Scotiabank. CIBC was officially unveiled in 1961, but it was formed by the merger of two of Canada’s largest banks, both of which were founded in the 1800s. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce was a merger of the Canadian Bank of Commerce (formed in 1867) and the Imperial Bank of Canada (formed in 1874).
Both banks experienced periods of massive growth and some low times like during the First World War and the Great Depression. While the Canadian Bank of Commerce grew largely by acquisition, the Imperial Bank of Commerce took the expansion route. CIBC became a reality after the Imperial Bank of Canada approached the Canadian Bank of Commerce to discuss a merger as a way to avoid a foreign takeover. Their merger became the biggest chartered bank merger in the country’s history.
Today CIBC is a massive financial institution with interests and operations in retail and business banking, wealth management, and capital markets across the parent bank and all its subsidiaries. As of 2018, the bank recorded a revenue of $17.8 billion and a profit of $5.3 billion while handling total assets worth $597.1 billion. CIBC employs over 44,000 people and serves a customer base of about 11 million people.
How has the CIBC stock and dividend performed?
RBC trades on the TSX with the ticker symbol ‘CM’. In 2000, the stock price closed for the year at $30.97 and in 2019, the closing stock price was $83.20. That’s a percentage growth of 168.64% in 20 years. CIBC’s worst year in the last twenty was 2008. It lost 41.55% of its stock value that year (opened at $70.50, closed at $41.29). The year 2003 was the bank’s best year in the last two decades in terms of percentage growth (79.86%; opened at $28.06, closed at $49.46).
The year 2020 opened at $83.31 but as of March 30, 2020, the bank’s stock price is pegged at $55.77, largely down to how rough the year has been for the global economy. In the last three years, CIBC’s dividend has gone from $1.27 in the second quarter of 2017 to $1.44 in the last quarter of 2019, and $1.46 in the first quarter of 2020. That is a $0.02 increase from the last dividend. The bank’s annual dividend for 2019 was $5.68 with a dividend yield of 7.19%.
4. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)
TD was formed by a three-way merger involving three Canadian financial institutions that started in 1955 and culminated in 2000. This made TD the second-largest chartered bank in the country. The three-bank merger involved The Dominion Bank, The Bank of Toronto, and Canada Trust. The Bank of Toronto was established in 1855 and the Dominion Bank of Canada was founded in 1867. Both banks were majorly focused on agricultural efforts and enterprises at the beginning.
With the increase in competition from other emerging financial institutions in the country, both banks started talking about a merger in 1954 as a response to meet this competition and to continue their growth curve. It was finalized the following year and in 1956, The Toronto-Dominion Bank had an asset value of $1.3 billion and 463 branches.
The trio was completed in 2000 when TD Bank bought out Canada Trust to help with growth and diversification. This formed an entirely new and separate entity known as TD Canada Trust.
As of 2019, TD Bank recorded a revenue of $41.06 billion and a profit of $11.68 billion. Its asset value was pegged at $1.41 trillion. Across its parent institution, its divisions and subsidiaries, the bank employs over 89,000 people and serves more than 25 million customers.
How has the TD stock and dividend performed?
TD Bank trades on the TSX with the ticker symbol ‘TD’. In 2000, the stock price closed for the year at $14.50 and in 2019, the closing stock price was $56.13. That’s a percentage growth of 287.1% in 20 years. TD’s worst year in the last twenty was 2008. It lost 48.72% of its stock value that year (opened at $34.38, closed at $17.93). The next year was the bank’s best year in the last two decades in terms of percentage growth (74.85%; opened at $18.08, closed at $31.36).
The year 2020 opened at $56.54 but as of March 30, 2020, the bank’s stock price is pegged at $41.30, largely down to how rough the year has been for the global economy. TD’s dividend for the first quarter of 2020 was $0.79. This marked a $0.05 increment from the $0.74 dividend for all the quarters in 2019. The annual dividend from the bank for 2019 was $2.96, and the dividend yield was 4.94%.
5. Bank Of Montreal (BMO)
BMO is more than just another Big 5 Canadian bank; it should also serve as a tourist center some would argue. There was a time Bank of Montreal was the inky financial institution in the country. Founded as far back as 1817, it also served as the country’s central bank until the formation of the Bank of Canada (BoC) 118 years later, in 1935.
Originally known as Montreal Bank, it was established by a group made of nine influential business figures in the city. The original purpose was to help their business customers to conduct their trades in the city.
Bank of Montreal has come a long way since then, in many ways keeping in step with the country’s growth. Despite losing its biggest customer – the Canadian government – after the creation of the Bank of Canada in 1935, BMO plowed on and surpassed $1 billion in assets for the first time in 1939. As of 2019, the bank operates in the areas of personal and commercial banking, investment banking and wealth management. In the same year, it posted $22.8 billion in revenue, $5.8 billion in profit, and total asset value of $852.2 billion. BMO offers its services to its 12 million customers with the help of its over 45,000 employees.
How has the BMO stock and dividend performed?
BMO trades on the TSX with the ticker symbol ‘BMO’. In 2000, the stock price closed for the year at $26.34 and in 2019, the closing stock price was $77.50. That’s a percentage growth of 194.22% in 20 years. Bank of Montreal’s worst year in the last twenty was 2008. It lost 54.61% of its stock value that year (opened at $55.92, closed at $25.69). The next year was the bank’s best year in the last two decades in terms of percentage growth (106.62%; opened at $26.39, closed at $53.08).
The year 2020 opened at $77.64 but as of March 30, 2020, the bank’s stock price was pegged at $47.87, largely down to how rough the year has been for the global economy. BMO’s dividend is one of the best of the Big 5 Banks in Canada. The last quarter of 2019 and the first of 2020 saw the bank pay its shareholders a dividend of $1.06. The dividend for the second and third quarters of 2019 was $1.03, which shows a $0.03 increase. BMO paid out a total annual dividend of $4.12 in 2019, reflecting a dividend yield of 5.80%.
Stock trading will simply never go out of fashion, but investors will if they do not play their investing cards right. The truth is that investing takes skill, even as a beginner. So you’ll need an online brokerage, you’ll need to know the fundamentals of investing, and you’ll need to develop an investor’s mindset.
The stocks of Canada’s Big 5 banks analyzed above could be a good place to start, given their strong records over the decades and centuries that they’ve been in operation. Most of them have survived two World Wars and the Great Depression, so that’s saying something about their strength, resilience, and longevity.
If you’d like to put money on these financial behemoths, simply try out Questrade or any other reputable online broker and work with them to build your portfolio on these banks and begin to write your own investment story.
If you like the content of this article and found it helpful do share it on social media and help spread the word. Also, do let me know your thoughts and comments below. Thanks for reading!
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Sagar Sridhar is a personal finance blogger from Canada. His genuine passion for personal finance coupled with his unique style of writing is what stands out. Professionally, he is a computer engineer, agile certified and has a master’s degree in Project Management. His writing has been featured or quoted in the leading Canadian publications such as Credit Canada and many other personal finance publications. While he is juggling between his day job and blogging, he is the main author on this blog and has miles to go before making the final pit stop.