Every now and then, a reader will want to know what kind of formula can be easily plugged in to figure out what stocks to buy. I can think of useful approximations to get the process started. If a newbie investor only considers companies that have been raising dividends for 20+ years with earnings per share growth of at least 5% annually over the past ten and then selectively removes the financial and tech companies from the list, he will put together a pretty darn good portfolio. It’s not a perfect test—companies like Dr. Pepper and Hershey would be great lifelong holds even though they don’t have the dividend history due to buyouts and a two-year dividend freeze. And I would much rather own those companies than something like Vectren that has been raising its dividend every year for decades.