Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor

Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor

Saturday, January 16, 2016

blue chips

"Is there still such a thing as a Blue Chip stock anymore?"

It used to be considered a fairly sound investment strategy to just put your money in a couple of "Blue Chip" stocks and call it a day. Stocks have always been rightly viewed as risky, but the term Blue Chip lent comfort to investors. The designation differentiated large, well known, stable companies from smaller, risky companies that had not established themselves in the market. These were large companies with wide moats that could fend off competition and continue profitable growth into the foreseeable future. The term Blue Chip conveyed a sense of safety, a protection against permanent loss.

Picking a few Blue Chip companies is not a strategy that makes sense anymore. Blue Chips do not exist anymore, not because competition is too fierce and risk is too high, but because they are simply not needed.

The arc of human history is towards a growing population with growing wealth. Businesses are levered to this growth. Economic growth is ultimately growth in sales, masking the tumultuous fight for profits at the companies that make up the economy. No matter how steady a company appears, or now large their moat is, with individual companies there is always the risk of permanent loss. If you selected a small list of individual companies right now, you may find that they do not all exist in a one, ten, or forty years. If you happened to have selected the wrong ones, your investment might be worthless. If instead, you just bought everything, there would be some losers, but you would expect the winners to make up for that and still provide growth on your investment. Individual companies may fail, but it is exceedingly unlikely that the entire market fails.

The equivalent today of investing in Blue Chip stocks is being a passive index.

Now you can capture the market return effectively with index funds. There is less need for the stalwart individual stocks when you can capture a similar expected return with lower expected volatility in an index fund. Company management in a reasonably free economy have demonstrated time and time again a fantastic propensity for making money. Ride the wave of human history and just buy everything out there.

Blue Chip companies may be dead, but investing in stocks is still the best way to grow your investments over the long term.