Are You Emotionally Attached to Your Stocks?

Bill Parrott |

It’s easy to fall in love with a stock, especially if you handpicked it yourself. Over the years, I’ve talked to scores of investors about their favorite stocks, and most prefer to hold on to them forever regardless of allocation or performance. If you’re emotionally attached to a company, try not to overlook several risk factors.

It’s easy to get anchored to your original purchase price. If your stock falls below your purchase price, you might be reluctant to sell it for a loss for fear of admitting you were wrong. Another challenge for investors is when a stock drops below the all-time high. If it hit the high price once, it must do it again. Of course, it doesn’t have to do anything.

Enron traded at an all-time high on August 23, 2000, closing at $90.75 per share. At its peak, Enron’s market-cap was more than $70 billion, and, at the time, it was the 7th largest publicly traded company.[1] Two years later, it would be worthless. As a comparison, Berkshire Hathaway is currently the 7th largest publicly traded company.

Here are a few companies that are currently trading off their all-time highs: IBM peaked at $215 on March 14, 2013. It’s now trading at $135, down 37%. Boeing peaked at $440 on March 1, 2019. It’s currently trading at $339, down 23%. Tesla traded to an all-time high of $385 on September 18, 2017. It’s currently trading at $328, down 15%. Exxon traded at $104.37 on June 28, 2014, and it is now $69.25, down 34%. 3M sold at $258 on January 26, 2018. It’s currently selling for $166, down 36%. These companies may return to their peaks, but in the meantime, they’re a drag on portfolios.

During my career, I’ve found investors fall in love with three types of stocks. The first is a company located in their backyard, the second is a story stock highlighted on TV, and the third is a mega-cap stock.

Locals in California, pick Apple. Oregonians run with Nike, Washingtonians click on Amazon or Microsoft. Texans ooze over Exxon and Tennesseans like the way FedEx delivers. Investors who own homegrown stocks like to hold them forever.

Story stocks get big headlines. Tesla gets a lot of screen time, as do recent IPOs like Uber, Peloton or Beyond Meat. If it’s new, it must be a winner, but not always.

Mega-cap stocks like Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Facebook, Berkshire Hathaway, Visa, JP Morgan, Walmart, and Procter & Gamble are popular holdings, and, rightfully so. These battleship stocks have stood the test of time and have rewarded shareholders handsomely. Mega-cap stocks also have another benefit to shareholders in that consumers use their products daily.

By investing in homegrown stocks, you might miss opportunities in companies scattered around the globe.  Advantest Corporation is a Japanese company, which is up 148% year-to-date. Fortescue Metals Group in Australia is up 137%. Li Ning Company in China is up 213%, and Hotai Motor in Hong Kong is also turning in a stellar performance, up 108%.

A basket of globally diversified index funds will remove the emotional attachment of investing and give you exposure to thousands of companies. It’s easy to fall in love with Tesla, not so much with a small-cap international index fund. Also, your diversified portfolio will allocate a portion of your assets to bonds, and no one falls in love with a bond fund. However, when the market corrects, you’ll be glad you own a bond fund or two.

A financial plan will also help you with your emotional attachment. A good plan will quantify and prioritize your financial goals. Your plan will also direct your advisor on how best to construct your investment portfolio. Your plan and portfolio will synch to your goals.

Despite the numerous benefits of financial planning, a recent study by Vanguard found, “many advisors are not preparing financial plans for their clients.” Their study found that only 47% of advisors created a formal plan for clients with $100,000 to $1,000,000.[2]

To achieve long-term financial success, create a financial plan, invest in a globally diversified portfolio of mutual funds, and keep your fees low.  If you follow this plan, you might fall in love with your results!

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7


October 28, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.





[1], Website accessed on October 23, 2019

[2] The Vanguard Advisor’s Alpha® Guide to Proactive Behavioral Coaching, Donald G. Bennyhoff, November 2018.