Don’t Invest in the Company that You Work for

My friend Cody put out a piece today on not investing in the company that you work for.  95% of the time, that is correct.  Since this blog is about reduction of risk, I advise all readers not to increase their risk by risking their retirement funds on the the company from which they derive their wages.  That said, here is the other 5%, from a RealMoney CC:

David Merkel
Right On, Roger!
12/12/2006 1:54 PM EST

Roger is dead right when he says to diversify. My broad market strategy has 35 stocks in it. Biggest position is Allstate (boring, huh?) at 5%. Most of the rest are around 2.5%, with about 15% cash.

There have only been two times that my wife has suggested that I do something with respect to our investments. Both were when I let a position grow too big. The first was the St. Paul, when I worked there. The other is my only private equity holding: a company which makes the best commercial lawn mowers in the world (my opinion). She was right both times, in my opinion.

The secret to investing is risk control. Don’t make a move that could knock you out of the game, and over the long run, you can make decent money as you compound your gains.

If I compare my investing to baseball, I would say that I try to hit singles. Playing home run ball leads to too many strikeouts, and the strikeouts hurt more than the home runs help. Not only do you lose money, you lose confidence to stay in the game.

So, play the game with a margin of safety. Diversify broadly, and maybe, just maybe, buy some bonds too, to even out the ride. (I have an article coming on my bond holdings in the next month…)

Position: long ALL

There are exceptions, though, and I will point three of them out.  1) Executives often have to buy company stock; but they are beiong paid to take risk for the good of the shareholders.  2)  Occasionally, when your company is out of favor, and you know it has a strong balance sheet, it may be time to buy.  That’s what I did with the St. Paul back in 2000, and it paid off well.  3) If you understand your business better than anyone else (very rare), and you are in a fast growing industry, the stock of your company can be a good deal if the general market has not discovered it yet, and bid the stock price to high P/E ratios.

Aside from that, do not invest in the stock of your company.  Why put your retirement at risk?