Sunday, 11 October 2009

What is a Stocks Portfolio?

Have you ever heard experts on TV talking about a stocks portfolio and wondered what exactly that is? Well it's quite a simple concept. A stocks portfolio is simply the collective term for all the stocks that you own. Every investment you have made can be thought of as being in one big group which is your portfolio. Have you ever heard the term diversify your portfolio? This is simply in reference to the logic that you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket. You want to keep the stocks you buy spread across different companies and industries so that if one takes a hit the rest of your shares won't be affected by a sharp decline in value. For example if you had a large amount of stocks three different airlines and one has an accident all three will no doubt be affected in their value. Industries tend to be affected by events like this even if it isn't the company you own who had the accident. Investor confidence is fragile at the best of times and all those affiliated with the airline industry would feel the after shock of this. So to diversify your stock is simply an insurance policy you can take out yourself to make sure all your bases are covered.

Warren Buffett
has a slightly different opinion to diversifying your portfolio. Rather than buying up stocks from 20 different industries he has tended to focus on those he is familiar with and ensure you're buying in to good companies in the first place. Anything major like my airline example above won't affect the companies profitability in the long run and can be seen as a minor blip in the chart. I've also read a few articles where he's recommended buying more stocks in a company you already own rather than branching out and investing elsewhere. Now by this I'm sure Warren Buffett isn't recommending that you don't diversify your stocks, simply that if you have a good company there's no reason not to invest more money in to it. We are after all trying to make money from buying stocks and shares. There's a lot of websites out there from people claiming to have stock guru portfolios and I'm not even sure what that term is. I'm always wary of taking advice from someone who's claiming to be a stock guru, the proof is in the pudding as far as I'm concerned. I'll listen to people who have proven themselves over decades such as Warren Buffett who could actually claim to have a stock guru portfolio!

I've recommended quite a few times on this site about trying out fantasy stock markets online to get a feel for buying stocks for beginners. It's a great way to try out the industry and see if you're getting the hang of it without putting any money out. No risk attached. It's also a great way to get your head around the idea of having a portfolio and managing it, it would be a mock portfolio or practice portfolio. Most of the fantasy stock market games will let you browse stocks by industry and you can then see if you've bought stocks which covers a wide variety of industries protecting you from any downturn. This way if you diversify your stocks you won't get hit across all your holdings. If you do eventually decide to buy stocks online for real you'll be able to manage them in much the same way. Many of the online brokers provide excellent stock management software where you can get at a glance figures and stats per industry. Remember Warren Buffett's tactic though, don't invest in an industry you don't have any knowledge of! It makes it much more difficult to work out if it's a valuable company to invest in. If you're interested in this have a look at how to work out the intrinsic value of a company.

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