What's Dogging Your Portfolio?
Last time I had a dog (a German shepherd), I was 10.
The last time my husband had a dog (a Springer spaniel), he was in college and, unbeknownst to him, it was given away by his mother.
And so when we decided to adopt a pit bull named Bo last month (pictured at right), we had no idea what we were getting into.
It all started with a dinner invitation to our friend, Tania. Before coming over that night, she asked a small favor: Would we house an abandoned dog until the doggie rescue network checked him out to see if he was adoptable? He was found by Riverside Park groundskeepers, chained to a gate and curled up in a doggie-made igloo, mangy, emaciated, and close to freezing to death.
We said, "sure," Bo arrived for dinner, and before long we became accidental dog owners.
Though he may look like a brute, he is sweet-tempered and lovable - provided you're not a squirrel, raccoon or one of the neighbor's Prince Charles spaniels, that is.
So our lives are now turned upside down.
We fret over walking schedules, feeding schedules, and who gets stuck with scooping up dog doo. There's the lack of sleep due to loud ear-flapping caused by ear mites. The occasional kitchen floor "accident" that needs tending to. And, of course, there are the constant requests to play fetch.
I'm sure pocket poodles also have their moments, but let's face it, a young seventy-five pound pit bull is high maintenance.
Thinking about this made me realize that sometimes stocks make their way into our portfolio with Bo-like parallels: They arrive in the portfolio innocently enough and yet ultimately prove to be a handful.
Like Bo, some stocks seem to have constant "accidents," missing their quarters and causing much drama and gnashing of teeth.
Some need incessant monitoring because they're always on the brink of crisis. Maybe they're very levered, or are price takers, or they just can't create demand for their products. Whatever the cause, their financial health is erratic. Were they dogs, they would need frequent visits to the vet to check their vitals.
Other holdings, because they are so volatile, demand a great deal of attention - lots of calls, visits, or crosschecks. These stocks react to every little blip of a data point, not unlike Bo lunging after every squirrel in Central Park.
And some positions are habitual chompers, chewing through your returns faster than a pit bull working his way through a stick.
So, does all this mean that we regret saying yes to Bo? Not at all. Because unlike the dogs in our portfolio, Bo comes with considerable upside compensation, including mugger defense, unconditional love, long walks and effusive welcome homes at the end of a long day.
So here's some valuable advice: When you find yourself with a bow-wow of a high-maintenance stock on your hands, do yourself a favor and SELL. In the meantime, if you have a recommendations on a first-rate doggie trainer, I'm all ears.