If you're a shareholder of Valero (NYSE: VLO ) , you're to be congratulated. You found a company that was growing sales and maximizing profits, and the market has rewarded you handsomely for your foresight.
But I'm here to tell you that it may not last.
Stay one step ahead
Valero was trading at a split-adjusted price of $18 per share in January 2003. Today, shares trade at more than $80. The stock has risen more than 345% -- a truly remarkable performance during a time when the S&P is up just 32%. Those gains will help you achieve your retirement dreams, but only if you have a plan to make sure your savings and investments outlast you.
Because for every great success story in the market, there's a disaster -- or a growth stock that just plain, well, stopped growing. With shares trading north of $130 in 2000, Ballard Power (Nasdaq: BLDP ) shareholders were once where you are now. Unfortunately, Ballard stock currently trades for less than $5. Even McAfee (NYSE: MFE ) shareholders, who once counted on decades of explosive growth, have seen their returns level off.
Be one with the masters
The world's greatest investors can't predict the future. Jack Bogle, founder of the hugely successful Vanguard Group, told Fool co-founder David Gardner, "I am a nervous investor. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow or next year. ... But [with] four things -- diversification, tax efficiency, lower costs, a long time horizon -- you will capture the returns that this uncertain stock market is kind enough to deliver."
Those are sage words, and they drive my investment philosophy. Your gains on Valero have put you one step closer to a happy retirement. But by perfecting your portfolio and balancing your investments to meet your needs, you can stay one step ahead and gain the financial freedom you've earned.
The goal of my Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter service is to help more investors take control of their financial future. I help subscribers identify an investment timeline, determine ideal asset allocation for any life stage, and prevent fees, commissions, and taxes from undermining their future. Ultimately, the best person to manage your money is you, and our service helps you build a financial plan and further grow and protect the money you're accumulating.
If you'd like to join me in protecting the gains of today for a happier tomorrow, kick the wheels on a 30-day free trial to Rule Your Retirement. There's no obligation to subscribe, and a trial includes access to all back issues, interviews with other expert money managers, retirement calculators and how-to guides, and the Fool's dedicated discussion boards, where you'll find hordes of like-minded investors sharing wisdom, ideas, and analysis. Click here to learn more.
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Robert Brokamp, a former Wall Street financial planner, is the editor of Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement. He does not own shares of any stock mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.