Growth or income: what should my SIPP target?

Should our writer concentrate his SIPP on growth or income shares, or buy a mixture of both? Here he considers some possible approaches.

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A Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) can be a vehicle that ticks over quietly in the background for decades before an investor reaches pensionable age. That means it could be ideally suited for the long-term approach to investing I take.

That timeframe may mean I have enough time to invest in a promising growth story today and see it ultimately emerge as the next Amazon or Tesla.

It also means I could invest in some high-yield shares, compound the dividends over decades, and let the money hopefully pile up in my SIPP.

So which would make more sense for my investment strategy, growth or income?

Two approaches or just one?

The answer could be one or the other. It might be a mixture of both. Or it might be something else, namely a recognition that one share could be both a growth and income share.

Take Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) as an example. The parent of Google and YouTube has spent several decades as a growth stock. I think it has certainly delivered on that front. Over the past five years alone, the Alphabet share price has almost tripled.

The growth story was not just about revenues, although they have certainly shot up and topped $300bn last year. It has also come in the form of profits. Last year, Alphabet reported its highest net income ever, of $82bn.

All that spare cash sloshing around means that the company has now announced plans to start paying dividends.

In that sense, Alphabet has now moved from being a pure growth stock to one that may offer the prospect of both growth and income.

Going for growth

Initially, the dividend may be fairly modest relative to the Alphabet share price. Over time though, I think it could grow.

Investing in carefully-selected growth shares that end up generating large sums of excess cash could mean I ultimately end up getting the best of both worlds.

But lots of growth shares are unproven businesses and can make losses for years before turning a profit – if they ever do.

Even now, Alphabet faces risks such as AI tools eating into the market for its core search products. That could hurt future revenues and cash flows.

Proven income generators

By contrast, many blue-chip income shares have long since proven that their business models can and so make sizeable profits.

If I owned them in my SIPP, I could hopefully earn dividends years after year. I could keep compounding those dividends to try and boost my income.

For example, if I put £1,000 into Legal & General shares today and compounded the 8.2% yield annually for 30 years, at the end of the period my initial £1,000 ought to be earning me £872 every year in dividends.

Getting the balance right

That presumes a constant dividend though. In reality, dividends are never guaranteed. Past performance is no guarantee of future success.

So whether I chose to focus on growth or income shares – or combine both, as I currently do in my SIPP – my focus would actually be the same.

I would be looking for companies I thought had strong potential, not fully reflected in their current share price.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. John Mackey, former CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. C Ruane has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Alphabet, Amazon, and Tesla. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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