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The simple 'Dogs of the Dow' strategy topped the market for a fourth straight year

Key Points
  • This classic value investing strategy has outperformed the markets for the past four years straight and seven out of the last 10 years.
  • "Dogs of the Dow" calls for the purchase of the 10 Dow members with the highest dividend yield.
Your personal camera obscura | Getty Images

Not only is it simple, the "Dogs of the Dow" also has a strong track record.

In fact, this classic value investing strategy — simply calling for buying the 10 stocks with the highest dividend yield in the Dow Jones Industrial Average — has outperformed the markets for the past four years straight and seven out of the last 10 years.

The Dow Jones High Yield Select 10 Total Return Index, which is a proxy for the Dogs of the Dow, has an average annual total return of 9.54 percent going back to 2001, versus 7.29 percent for the S&P 500, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The dogs kept investors relatively safe last year, posting a loss of only 1.5 percent, versus the Dow's nearly 6 percent annual decline and the ′s 6.2 percent.

In 2019, investors could use a safer yet effective strategy that provides steady dividend income. While stocks have bounced back from their worst year since the financial crisis with the S&P 500 up 2 percent so far in the new year, the jury is still out if the market can hold up in the face of the ongoing trade battles and the Federal Reserve's rate-hiking agenda.

International Business Machines, Exxon Mobil and Verizon Communications are among the dogs for 2019. General Electric, which cut its dividend to 0.55 percent from 2.75 percent, is the only stock that got replaced in the new year and it's also no longer in the Dow. J.P. Morgan Chase is a new member of the dogs in 2019.

Looking closer at the individual names, BoAML analysts see "bullish setups" for Coca-Cola, Merck, Pfizer and Verizon, while they are more bearish on Exxon Mobil, IBM and JPM.