Stock Investing Strategies for the Long Term

June 19, 2009

“I never attempt to make money on the stock market. I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.”  – Warren Buffett

If you think of day trading as a series of one night stands, long term investing is that one that sticks. Whether it’s a bad rash you can’t get rid of or the love of your life, these are long term relationships where you meet the dysfunctional family and all the friends and baggage you didn’t expect.

Long Term Investing

Most investment professionals would consider five years long term. When it comes to investing using individual stocks, it can be a bit more expensive and potentially more risky than using an ETF or mutual fund. Mutual funds or ETF’s can help facilitate diversification and protect your portfolio when the market gets choppy.


There are just as many believers in diversification as there are opponents of the philosophy. Opponents will say that an investor should buy a stock that they believe in regardless of industry or sector. It’s a plausible idea, but how would you feel if you believed in three of the top financial companies two years ago. These were very popular stocks, with great track records and dividends, but then…

The idea behind diversification is that where one sector or industry is under-performing, other industries will usually perform at a better rate. A good starting point for a portfolio is 10 individual stocks or ETFs. An investor must still do their due diligence to pick the right sectors and/or stocks. There are two ways of doing this: top-down or bottom-up.

Top-Down Investing

When you hear about a money manager or a mutual fund the analyzes stocks using a “top-down” process, this means that they first decide what sector or region they feel will out-perform the market. Once they decide the sector, then they research the individual stocks inside the sector in order to choose the right one for them

Bottom-Up Investing

This is the exact opposite (obviously) of Top-Down. In this scenario, you choose individual stocks based on your own extensive research regardless of sector.

Buying Stock via ETFs

If you’ve decided on a top-down approach but you can’t decide which healthcare stock you want, you can look into ETFs to fill the void. With ETFs, you are purchasing every stock in that sector/index. With a healthcare ETF for this example, you are filling the sector and getting diversification in the process.

Top Down Example

Here’s an example of a portfolio that might represent a top down strategy, each of the stocks is from a different sector. Let me be clear in saying that no research went into this sample portfolio, it’s simply an example to demonstrate stock from various sectors.

  1. Apple Inc. (AAPL) – Technology – Computers
  2. Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) – Financial
  3. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) – Healthcare
  4. Chevron Corp. (CVX) – Basic Materials
  5. Coca Cola (KO) – Consumer Goods
  6. Dow Chemical (DOW) – Chemicals/Major Diversified
  7. Walmart (WMT) – Services – Discount/Variety Stores
  8. General Electric (GE) – Conglomerates
  9. Boeing (BA) – Aerospace/Defense
  10. Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU) – Utilities Sector ETF

Again, this is just an example of ten holdings pulled together to show a diversified portfolio. These are holdings that you need to look at with the idea of holding them for extended periods of time.

Monitoring Your Stocks

Keeping an eye on your holdings is very important. There may be a holding that increases significantly in value for a specific reason and overweights your portfolio in a certain sector. Taking profits in situations like that may be in order. By that same token, if a stock drops suddenly, but you believe it is still a strong company, you may want to double down and buy more shares on that dip.

One other final thought, most of these companies do give dividends. You can either re-invest those dividends back into that particular stock and buy more shares or take the cash and use it to take advantage of other opportunities.


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7 Responses to Stock Investing Strategies for the Long Term

  • Ricky

    Thanks for sharing such great post, Ya i agree that all this tips will help you to plan long term strategies.

  • Victor

    We have over 90 years worth of data to show that no matter how bad, the market always reverts back to the norm. Over 90 years of date shows that the average return in the stock market is 10.5%. That includes the depression, the oil crisis of the 70’s and stagnation in the 80’s…It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. If you are long term, then riding this out and taking advantage are your best options.

    As to the Obama comment, I’ll keep away from the political talk. That’s for another blog. However, you can not expect things to be fixed overnight when companies were getting away with just about everything for close to a decade. The jury is still out on whether the moves made BEFORE he even took office were the right ones.

    This was a no-win situation for whoever won the election and the poor person nominated to take over the Fed. We still have a long way to go, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Phil

    While I agree that those strategies might do well in a long-term strategy, in the “new economy” those basic principles are all out the window. On a bad day, stock markets rise and vice-versa. I don’t see how the markets are at their current levels now when we’re clearly in the same trouble we were in before Obama took over.

  • Rajeev Singh

    Nice article… I think diversification is a tool which has so much acceptance because it makes both the good and bad investors/fund managers look the same viz an average investor. Over a period of time, it does pay you an average returns . Ones looking at very high returns will go in for more concentrated protfolio.

  • The Gooroo

    Nice post, enjoyed it. Bookmarked the site. I’ll definitely be back to see some more posts! 😉

  • Olivia @Independent Beginnings

    Nice article! I am definitely one who is more trusting of index funds. The more diversification, in my opinion, the better. Right now, though, I need to focus more on building up an emergency fund than on investing.


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