In recent weeks, I’ve been struggling with the idea of whether to sell my shares of Toronto Dominion Bank (TSX:TD)(NYSE:TD). I have held the shares for quite some time and have loved the dividend growth coming from this company. It’s been a great performer in my portfolio, so the decision isn’t an easy one.
The reason I’m looking to sell the shares isn’t due to the short-selling thesis that’s been expounded in recent weeks, nor is it even due to the fact that the bank is exposed to the expensive Canadian housing market. In fact, my decision to sell is focused entirely on the fact that I am personally disappointed in TD as a customer.
A few weeks ago, I opened an account with TD Bank. I’m familiar with the company’s earnings power and its well-run business, but haven’t been a customer for a long time. However, I had to address a particular issue, so I decided to open the account.
But I had a number of problems with the bank during the process that caused me a lot of frustration, making me disillusioned with TD as a company. All in all, the experience of opening the account wasn’t a pleasant one.
The problem is…
As an investment, TD certainly appears to be an excellent holding. After a number of dividend increases, including the 10% increase announced earlier this year, the current yield sits at just under 4%. With a payout ratio of around 50% of earnings, TD will be able to support this dividend even if there’s a rough patch in the economy.
Its U.S. business is just one of the reasons I’ve been holding this stock. As the Canadian retail business hasn’t been not doing terribly well, net income was down 22% year-over-year in Q1 2019, it has become increasingly dependent on growth from its U.S. businesses.
The U.S. has been a major driver. U.S. retail net income is now about the same as Canada. Retail income grew significantly in Q1, increasing 30% over the same quarter of the previous year.
These results make me hesitant to sell my TD shares on the basis of my own retail banking experience. Besides, I’ve made the mistake of selling shares in a company I personally do not like before, which didn’t work out too well.
A few years ago, I was having issues with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) as a company. I sold my Apple shares for a small profit at around $110 a share. After I did that, the shares took off, at one point doubling in price from my selling price.
I watched in horror, filled with regret, as the reasons I had bought the stock in the first place, such as its cash, dividend, and earnings power, were still intact.
What to do?
It’s not a good idea to make emotional decisions based on the small sample size of your personal experience. The retail portion banking segment is only a portion of its business, and this could be an isolated incident.
As is the case with Apple, many people and corporations seem to like paying for its services, both at home and abroad. Therefore, I am leaning toward not making the same mistake I made with Apple.
But I have to admit, in both cases, I feel a bit like the cook who won’t eat his own food. I am not a fan of it as a customer at the moment, but can definitely see how it is an excellent, cash-generating business.
TD has been on the top of my Canadian investing list for a long time, and it’s hard for me to sell it based on a single experience, no matter how poor it was. As long as the fundamentals remain intact, I will just focus on the big picture and hold on.
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Fool contributor kris knutson owns shares of TORONTO-DOMINION BANK and Apple. David Gardner owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple.