At some point today England Manager, Roy Hodgson, will name his final 23-man squad for Euro16. Now, it might seem ludicrous (even Foolish) to suggest such a thing, but there are certain similarities to the dilemma faced by Mr Hodgson and that faced by any private investor keen on building a strong, robust portfolio. With this in mind, let's look at a range of companies that could get the thumbs-up from Roy.
Roy might opt for the safe and steady National Grid(LSE:NG) as the foundation of his portfolio. Its predictable earnings and excellent dividend yield (almost 4.5%) make it a 'safe pair of hands'. In defence, Roy will be keen to select companies that build a wall around their profits, have strong brands and lots of repeat customers. Companies such as Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser, Diageo or Imperial Brands are all possible selections here. All have rewarded shareholders handsomely over the years and are likely to continue doing so in the future.
Of course, all investments carry risk so there's always the possibility that some candidates could score own goals (step forward Tesco) or pick up injuries and cut their dividends, such as BHP Billiton. Even worse, like Sports Direct, they may be shown the red card from the FTSE 100. It's therefore essential that Roy shoots for a diversified portfolio and thoroughly inspects a company's balance sheet and recent reports for signs of distress before making his decision.
The best of both worlds?
Ideally, Roy's midfield will consist of a combination of players: some experienced and resilient, others capable of showing a degree of flair. Shifting focus to his portfolio, Roy's midfield may comprise of companies that have demonstrated a commitment to growth while also generating income. Costa Coffee and Premier Inn owner, Whitbread(LSE:WTB) is a company that has generated consistent profits over the last few years. A dip in recent form shouldn't concern Roy too much. Indeed, on a forecast price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 17, the shares are arguably cheap for a company with plans for strong growth overseas.
Supporting Whitbread could be a company like low-cost carrier, easyJet (LSE: EZ). Its shares currently trade on a P/E of under 10. Although a rise in the price of oil wouldn't be welcome, a dividend yield of 4.35% should compensate. While still coming back from injury, Roy might also risk including Aviva. Sure, it's not the most exciting company to watch but its turnaround is really starting to take shape under the direction of CEO Mark Wilson. Other companies worthy of consideration could be a housebuilder, such as Taylor Wimpey, or bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair.
In the investing world, Roy's attacking line could be the equivalent of four-to-five fast-moving, fast-growing, debt-free companies that give indications of having bright, profitable futures. Here, Roy may favour the consistency of top scorers like ARM Holdings, Just Eat or Dominos Pizza. Given that Mr Hodgson may opt to take the relatively inexperienced Marcus Rashford to France, he may also be tempted to add a more risky but potentially highly-rewarding company like Sirius Minerals (LSE:SXX) to his portfolio. True, it's yet to produce any profits (its 100-year fertiliser mine in North Yorkshire still needs to be financed and built) but, so long as you're prepared for a bumpy ride, buying shares others shy away from, like Sirius, can be very rewarding.
Investing is a serious business, of course. It's vital to thoroughly research companies before deciding whether they've earned the right for a place in your portfolio. That said, in many ways building a diversified team of dependable shares (with one or two blue-sky picks for risk-tolerant investors) isn't dissimilar from the task facing Mr Hodgson.
Before deciding which companies to take with you on your investing journey, it's really important to understand the basics. To continue our football analogy, it's like making sure you know the rules of the game before stepping on the plane to France. This is where the team at the Motley Fool is here to help. Our experts have produced a special free report entitled 10 steps to making a million in the market. This is the perfect place to start if you're new to investing and looking to build your wealth for the future.
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Paul Summers owns shares of National Grid, Unilever, Tesco, BHP Billiton, Easyjet, Aviva and Sirius Minerals. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Unilever. The Motley Fool UK has recommended ARM Holdings, Diageo, Domino's Pizza, Paddy Power Betfair, Reckitt Benckiser, and Sports Direct International. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.