Investing in individual stocks

An experimental Portfolio

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11/20/20 update: Zoom has been one of the fastest-growing stocks since the beginning of the pandemic. However, stocks of several companies that have benefited from the “work from home” economy (Zoom being one of them) dropped significantly after news came out of a highly-effective vaccine that could potentially get approved by the FDA in the coming weeks. Zoom’s stock is currently down more than 20% from its October 19th high of $568 a share. There is a legitimate question as to whether or not Zoom will continue to grow once the pandemic is under control. Even at its current price, Zoom is richly valued. Those are some of the risks with this company. However, COVID-19 has also helped make Zoom into a household name and we believe it will likely remain the most popular video conferencing service for a long time. In addition, we are of the opinion that COVID only sped up a trend that was already underway. Although there are benefits to occasional face-to-face meetings, a good number of meetings can be conducted via video conference to save time and money (such as travel expenses). Zoom is a risky stock to be sure but we believe the company will continue to do well over the long run, which is why we are adding it to our experimental portfolio this week.

This article is for entertainment purposes only. This is not an investment newsletter and we do not recommend any individual stocks or funds. As a reminder, you can scroll down to sign up for our free newsletter to get each new stock sent to your inbox!

Introduction to the Experimental Portfolio

Most investors today know about the advantages of investing in index funds. These funds tend to have lower expenses than actively managed mutual funds and they are often more tax efficient. But perhaps more importantly, they beat the returns of most actively managed funds!

However, some investors chose to invest a portion of their portfolio in individual stocks. This may be for one of several reasons:

  • To own a concentrated position in companies they strongly believe in.
  • Reduce their investing fees (since you don’t pay an annual management fee on individual stocks).
  • To attempt to beat the market.
  • To diversify their holdings in case major indexes go through a long period of underperformance.
  • For the fun of researching companies and attempting to find winning stocks.

The stocks listed below are part of a hypothetical portfolio (although I will be primarily selecting companies among stocks that are already in my portfolio, as they are companies I know the most about). The goal is to come up with a list of stocks that will beat the market over the long run. Some of my existing accounts have been beating the market for a number of years and I want to see if I can reproduce a market-beating hypothetical portfolio by selecting a new stock on the first and third Friday of every month.

DateTickerStockPrice paidReturnS&P 500Difference
11/20/2020ZMZoom$439.600.00%0.00%0.00%
11/6/2020CHWYChewy$70.32-2.29%1.47%-3.76%
10/16/2020CMGChipotle$1,339.68-3.52%2.35%-5.87%
10/2/2020SPOTSpotify$240.288.21%6.45%1.76%
9/18/2020TSLATesla$442.1510.73%7.05%3.69%
9/4/2020AAPLApple$120.96-2.99%3.71%-6.70%
8/21/2020PYPLPaypal Holdings$196.79-2.09%4.67%-6.76%
8/7/2020ETSYEtsy$135.063.70%6.22%-2.52%
7/17/2020NFLXNetflix$492.99-0.96%10.47%-11.43%
7/2/2020SQ (2)Square$113.3972.83%13.83%58.99%
6/19/2020DOCUDocuSign$161.4237.28%14.57%22.71%
6/5/2020WM (1)Waste Management$111.667.79%11.20%-3.41%
Average Return11.70%7.45%4.24%

Last updated on 10/20/2020. The next stock will be added on 12/04/2020. The VOO (Vanguard 500 Index Fund) is used to track the performance of the S&P 500 in the above table. The Price Paid column will be adjusted to account for stock splits if needed.

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Methodology

The above chart will be updated at least twice a month to keep track of the performance of the selected stocks and compare it to the S&P 500’s performance (as measured by the VOO). My goal is to add mostly well-known companies to this list but I will occasionally add newer or smaller companies that are not household names (yet). I will be following a buy and hold approach. The idea is to only sell a stock if there is a good reason to do so. As a long-term investor, I am not particularly worried about short-term fluctuation and I understand that it might take a while for these stocks to outperform the S&P (assuming that they ever will).

Disclosure: I own shares of Chipotle, Zoom, Tesla, Apple, PayPal, Etsy, Netflix, Waste Management, DocuSign, and Square. I wrote this article myself and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for this article and I have no business relationship with any company/stock mentioned above.

Disclaimer: This is not an investment newsletter and Inveduco LLC does NOT recommend any of the above stocks. Investing in individual stocks can lead to the loss of principal and may not be appropriate in your situation. Some of the companies mentioned above are high growth companies and are extremely risky investments. Always consult with a financial advisor and do your research prior to investing in any security. The author and Inveduco LLC take no responsibility for losses due to investing in any stocks mentioned in this article. Read our full disclaimer.

1 Waste Management’s price is adjusted for dividends. The original price paid on 6/5/20 was $112.20.
2 SQ was added on a Thursday since the market was closed on Friday (4th of July).

Archive

11/6/20 update: We are adding Chewy (CHWY) to our Experimental Portfolio this week. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the market due to the uncertainty surrounding the presidential election but the market appears to be somewhat recovering at the moment. The good news is that our experimental portfolio continues to outperform the S&P 500.

10/16/20 update: This week we are adding Chipotle (CMG). Four and a half months into our experiment, the hypothetical portfolio is still nicely outperforming the market.

10/2/20 update: This week we are adding Spotify (SPOT) to our hypothetical portfolio.

9/18/20 update: Our Experimental Portfolio was doing pretty well until about 3 weeks ago when the market started a correction. It is currently underperforming the S&P 500 and most of the recently added stocks are down, some significantly. These types of market corrections are not uncommon. We still believe that the companies in this hypothetical portfolio are quality businesses with long-term potential. We will continue to look for companies we believe have good odds of being long-term winners. Some of our picks will outperform the market. Others will be losers. Since it’s impossible to predict which companies will be winners in the long run, we have to diversify.

Which brings us to this week’s stock pick. We are adding one of the most controversial (and one of the most shorted) stocks on the market: Tesla (TSLA). Like many of the companies in our Experimental Portfolio, Tesla is a volatile stock. This coming Tuesday will be Tesla’s “Battery Day” and several analysts are already increasing their price target as a result. Many are expecting Tesla to reveal plans to increase battery capacity and performance. There is a lot of anticipation built into Tesla’s stock price which means that the slightest disappointment could cause the price to drop significantly (did we mention that this is a risky stock?). But looking beyond Tuesday’s “Battery Day”, we believe that under Elon Musk’s leadership, the company will meet and likely exceed expectations over the coming decade.

Speaking of Elon Musk, he can be eccentric at times and he holds some rather strange beliefs but he has an amazing capacity to deliver products that everyone else thinks are impossible. It is true that his product releases often run behind schedule but many of his promises do eventually materialize. When he sets a goal he is relentless in his pursuit of it. If you would like to learn more about Elon Musk, we highly recommend a book called “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future.” (We get a small commission if you buy the book through this link, at no extra cost to you. We appreciate your support! This allows us to continue this project.)

Tesla cars have an undeniable “cool” factor and many Tesla owners feel like it is the best car they’ve ever driven. Given the company’s track record, it wouldn’t surprise us if Tesla ends up producing the first fully autonomous car. If that day ever comes, many investors will likely kick themselves for not buying a few shares of Tesla years earlier.

9/5/20: Today we are adding a company that has transformed our relationship with technology in more ways than one. It is also the company with the largest market cap in the world. We are of course talking about Apple (AAPL). The company recently underwent a 4 to 1 stock split which generated a significant amount of volatility. Over the past couple of days, Apple’s market value was reduced by approximately $350 billion due to a general market selloff. To put this in perspective, that amount is larger than the market cap of 98% of S&P 500 companies. It should be noted that the stock split and recent selloff have nothing to do with our decision to add Apple to our experimental portfolio. As buy-and-hold investors, we believe that Apple continues to deliver huge value to its customers, many of which are raving fans of its products. The company is expected to release a 5G version of its iPhone and we anticipate that this will drive a significant increase of phone purchases over the next few years, as iPhone users will want to upgrade to the latest and greatest technology. It is also possible that a number of users are currently holding off on buying a new iPhone in anticipation of the 5G version, which could further increase the company’s earnings down the road. Apple has been increasing its dividend payments since 2015 and as long as they can keep this up, it will increase their odds of outperforming the overall market (see the chart below for the impact of increasing dividend payments on long-term performance).

Source: Hartford Funds

8/21/20: This week’s stock pick is PayPal (PYPL). We seem to be living in a new golden age of contactless payments. Just look at some of the large companies involved in this field: Google Pay, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and of course Paypal. The latter owns the popular digital wallet called Venmo and it is revolutionizing the banking industry. By the way, this is our second stock pick in the “war on cash” industry. Back on July 2nd, we added Square (SQ) and it has been performing pretty well (up 36% to date). PayPal is a much larger company and it is more profitable that Square. While we don’t expect Paypal to grow as fast (mainly due to its size), we believe it has a good chance of outperforming the market over the next few years. The company is profitable and it has a big market advantage with its years of experience.

8/7/20: We are adding Etsy to our experimental portfolio. They just reported an amazing second quarter, crushing expectations. Apparently, that wasn’t good enough for some investors. Regardless, we believe that Etsy has a bright future for years to come.

7/17/20: We are adding Netflix. This is a risky move in light of their recent disappointing quarter. Historically, Netflix has managed to bounce back from negative developments. We will see if they can pull it off once again.

10 comments

  1. I am interested as well. Thank you for taking the time out and using yourself as your experiment. I am just studying for now and have saved my first 1000 and am adding to it. Another note is Vandguard has too many website technical issues for me as I am considering other firms.

    1. Zara, are you interested in investing in individual stocks specifically? If so, have you looked into Robinhood or M1 Finance? Both of them allow you to get started with very small amounts of money.
      Best of luck to you!
      Ron

  2. Hmmm. I am not a fan of Paypal but I didn’t know they own Venmo. I do like Venmo and find it much easier to use than Paypal. Thanks for the recommendation! I might just give Paypal a try.

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