Every time I read one of Beth's posts, I imagine her laugh.
Who is she? Otherwise known as bethnop, she's one of thousands of subscribers to the Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service, and the crowned champ of our "I'm a Rule Breaker" contest. The queen of our Foolish band of stock market anarchists is, among other things, a business owner, a single parent, and a late bloomer when it comes to investing.
Mom's a Rule Breaker
Beth's story begins in 1983, when, as a young woman straight out of college, she started her own business with an unsecured loan from a local bank that had a relationship with her father. Today, the loan has been repaid in full, and she's working with a wide range of nationally known clients in the pharmaceutical industry. The experience has been so diverse that, as she explains it, client discussions can range from branding to clinical data to international politics.
You'd think that such a complex business would require a cast of Ph.D.s. Instead, Beth has come to depend on a colorful crew of local Connecticut moms. Talk about rule breaking. Says Beth, "They work lots of extra hours for me when we're very busy. ... The trade-off is that they are always free to chaperone field trips, be at school for the holiday show, [or] work from home when the little ones have a fever."
When life imitates a portfolio
But the Rule Breaking lifestyle also carries with it plenty of twists and turns, and Beth has had more than her share. For example, she divorced her longtime husband after a series of problems finally reached the breaking point. Since then, she's learned through trial and error how to "mow the lawn, carry the occasional snake out of the basement, repair persnickety home mechanical malfunctions, and rebuild stone walls." (Note to Beth: You're at least two up on me there, Fool.)
Beth displayed similar courage when first wading into the deep waters of stock investing last year, in her mid-40s, but she quickly realized that more than courage was required. Says Beth, "I made my first few investments on some pretty shaky reasoning. These included DreamWorks Animation (NYSE: DWA ) because I liked Shrek, a few from the list of everybody's favorite stocks, and three or four that were under $10 a share and began with the letter A, because they were at the top of the stock screen I ran."
Beth doesn't say much about her early returns, but it wasn't long before she ran into Fool.com. Some of her stocks had received ample attention at the site. The articles, she says, urged her to research further. As she became more curious, her contrarian streak pushed to the fore. A trial to Rule Breakers soon followed.
Betting on businesses
Today, Beth treats her investing like a business. "I'm looking to make some choices that can really help me grow my money, which I can then plow back into more investments." Rule Breakers helps her in that effort, she says, because of the team's special emphasis on studying business models.
But it's much more than that. Beth is an admitted contrarian with a special desire to defy the head-scratchers. As she puts it, "While I do like to balance my portfolio with some choices with less volatility, the very stable, dividend-producing blue chippers are, well, a little boring to me. At this point, I'm comfortable sticking my neck out a bit to maximize my returns."
Her neck has found a home with several Rule Breakers selections, including satellite-radio contender XM Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: XMSR ) . Beth thinks the company has a lot going for it in terms of its insulated business model and growth potential. In Beth's own words, "The more I learn about satellite radio and its potential, the more I realize that it may really represent a new paradigm in entertainment."
Look out, Fido
Of course, Beth isn't all a-gush about every selection. One that has her scratching her head is iRobot (Nasdaq: IRBT ) . "I can't get past comparing it [the Roomba] to La Machine. There were a few holiday seasons where it was all the rage; everybody wanted one. People brought special 'La Machined' salads to parties. I think I ended up with about four of them in different sizes. Eventually, most of us decided that rather than unpacking the food processor, setting it up, and cleaning it, that it was actually a lot easier to go back to using the cutting board and knife. I can see the same trend with iRobot."
That's not to say there isn't a place for iRobot in her life. She ponders the possibility of the company merging with another Rule Breakers selection, TASER International (Nasdaq: TASR ) . "Think about it. ... Better than the V-chip for household supervision. One for pets, one for kids. Fido jumps on the couch? Zap! Son drops dirty socks on the carpet? Around the corner comes the intrepid iTASER. ... Zap!"
I can still hear her laughing. Thanks, Beth. No doubt, you have both the portfolio and the spirit of a true Rule Breaker. Welcome to the club!
DreamWorks Animation is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick.
You can join Beth and several more like-minded growth stock investors by becoming a part of the growingMotley Fool Rule Breakersfamily. If you're not sure about subscribing, you can do what Beth did and start with a free 30-day all-access pass to see whether it's right for you.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers only breaks the rules in his portfolio. Wimp. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what's in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.