Being able to retire rich, or at least comfortable, is the goal of almost any investor. However, it's much easier said than done. In a recent Wells Fargo survey, respondents between the ages of 50-59 said that they had, on average, about $29,000 saved up. With pensions all but gone, and Social Security targeted for cuts in the future, it's hard to count on anyone but yourself. But $29,000 isn't going to cut it for most people, so you've got to get involved in the stock market in order to grow that nest egg. Getting in the game is the easy part; choosing the right stocks is the hard part.

Making prudent decisions
Generally speaking, I look for four traits in a retirement stock:

  1. Valuation: Investors of all ages want to make sure they're not overpaying for a stock, but this matters even more in retirement. Retirees don't have the long time horizon that younger investors have, so it's essential to make sure you don't overpay in the short term.
  2. Dividends: Most retirees need a combination of both growth and income, as they'll be depending more and more on their portfolio to help with everyday expenses. Companies that pay dividends not only offer immediate income, but they've also proven to outperform non-paying dividend companies over long periods of time.
  3. Growth: Investors love dividends, but everyone wants to see their stocks rise over time. Growth can be as big a part of your portfolio as a steady dividend. It's important to note that you don't need a high-flying stock that's going to shoot to the moon; a company that can grow and outperform the market is hard enough to find, so steady growth is highly covetable.
  4. Low volatility: Retirees want to invest in great growth stocks just as much as anyone else, but they also want to be able to rest well knowing that their portfolio won't be taking them on a roller-coaster ride. At the end of the day, most retirees would rather own a sturdy company that lets them sleep at night than a company that whips up and down with the gyrations of the market.

Although some companies are definitely more geared toward retirees, which companies you choose to invest in will be dictated largely by what you already have in your portfolio. Small, mid, and large caps can all play a role in your investing strategy, so I chose to evaluate all varieties of stocks in this regular series.

So how does Copano Energy stack up?
In order to check out the valuation of Copano Energy (Nasdaq: CPNO), we don't want to look at only its P/E ratio, which isn't meaningful due to losses. That may seem unhelpful because it's hard to draw context for a company with no current P/E. However, if a company doesn't have a P/E, it's usually because it had negative earnings that year, which in itself tells us that something hasn't quite been right. Normally we'd look at the historical five-year average P/E and compare it to the current one, but since we don't have one, that action is rather fruitless.

Copano Energy's dividend is 7.09%. This is tremendous; not only does Copano Energy pay a dividend, but it pays more than the average company in the S&P 500.

Next, we want to ensure that Copano Energy's stock has the ability to rise over the next five, 10, or 20 years. A company that's growing its revenues has the best possible chance to see its share price rise over time. Of course, we can't predict the future, but we can look back to get an idea of how the company has performed in the past in order to try to ensure future earnings growth. Over the past five years, Copano Energy has grown its revenues by 4.1% annually. Fortunately, Copano Energy has been able to grow its revenues over the past five years, and that's pretty significant considering all of the market turmoil in the last few years. Of course, this doesn't mean that growth will continue, but it's a great sign that the company can prosper in the face of difficulty.

One of the best measures of volatility is called beta. Beta measures the impact that the movement of the stock market will have on a particular stock. For instance, a beta of 1.0 signifies that Copano Energy will move in tandem with the market; a beta of 2.0 means that the stock will move up twice as much as the general market, and vice versa. In this particular case, Copano Energy has a beta of 0.524, which is pretty low. Generally speaking, I like to see a beta below 1.2 for retirees. In this case, Copano Energy fits the bill.

Let's look at the competition
We've taken a look at Copano Energy, and maybe you think it's passed all the tests, or maybe you just don't feel comfortable with the results. Either way, it's beneficial to see how a company stacks up in its industry, because it's just as important to understand a company's competitors as it is to understand that particular company. Here are Copano Energy's stats when compared to three of its closest competitors:

Company

Current P/E

Dividend Yield

5-Year Revenue CAGR

1-Year Beta

Copano Energy N/M 7.1% 4.1% 0.5
Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (NYSE: KMP) 44.0 6.3% (4.9%) 0.5
Energy Transfer Partners L.P. (NYSE: ETP) 40.8 7.5% N/M 0.6
Enterprise Products Partners LP (NYSE: EPD) 26.8 5.9% 22.3% 0.7

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. N/M = not meaningful.

Each company has traits to like and traits left to be desired. Either way, it's beneficial to look at the industry picture and not just Copano Energy in isolation.

Of course, I can't decide for you whether or not this is the best stock for retirement, but it has passed three of the four tests, which shows that this stock has some promise. Depending on which traits are most important for you, you'd be wise to look further into this stock for your portfolio.

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Jordan DiPietro owns no shares. The Fool owns shares of Wells Fargo. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Enterprise Products Partners LP. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.