What's In an Investment Club Name? [Fribble] April 27, 2000

Fribble What's In an Investment Club Name?

By (Sara Burns)
April 27, 2000

The name of the investment club I joined a couple of years ago is the Wall Street Wannabes. I wasn't too crazy about the name, but thought it better that I should keep quiet for awhile than to tell the founding members why they really didn't wanna emulate Wall Street. I figured I'd wait until they got to know me better, learn what a Fool I am, and then I'd propose a name change. A funny thing is going on, though, we're living up to (or down to) our name. Sometimes I think the name should have been Average Mutual Fund Manager Wannabes. Here's what I mean....

1. Our best-performing stocks are the companies that we hold as a result of buyouts or spinoffs. Our worst performing, and losing, stocks are the ones we researched, selected, and purchased ourselves. We do all the smart things as far as research goes, but we just seem to "luck" into our best holdings.

2. In the past year, we've seen a turnover in members and have had to sell some good holdings to find enough cash to meet our settlement obligations. Our returns, like those of a mutual fund, have been hurt by this forced transaction pattern. We just revised our bylaws to minimize the revolving membership door effect in the future.

3. When we decide to buy a stock, the share price drops like a stone in the weeks following our purchase, sometimes not to recover for months or, in some cases, ever. The sole exception to this is Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT), which we bought on Friday, April 14th -- the week of the "Tech Stock Collapse." At the time of this writing, it's not Monday yet, so we could still see that price sink a lot lower and keep us true to form!

When I joined, the club membership consisted of a bunch of accountant and bookkeeper types. I wanted to join the club because I wanted to talk investing with others "in real life" and because a very good friend of mine was in it. Unfortunately, she died the month after I joined, and I found myself -- a risk-tolerant, non-NAIC-style, aggressive Fool -- plopped down in the middle of risk-averse, conservative, NAIC-guideline-following, staid investors.

But something interesting is happening. Within the past few months, the club has become distinctly unconservative, purchasing stocks that don't fit our guidelines in an attempt to shore up portfolio performance. I, on the other hand, find myself questioning out loud this change in the club's approach, and playing devil's advocate. It's a funny position for me to be in. On the one hand, the club's portfolio is starting to resemble my personal portfolio, with more tech stocks and holdings that reflect an expected stellar future rather than a steadily performing solid past. How can I fault that? On the other hand, I do miss the diversification I was expecting and the differing viewpoints from which I was hoping to benefit.

We all seem to be singing with the same voice, and a choir of sopranos isn't really what I want to hear. Maybe I should suggest a name change to the Vienna Investors' Choir.