This is part of a series of profiles highlighting women investors in the Fool community. Find out what makes the fairer sex better at picking stocks at fool.com/girl.
Stay-at-home mom to five and Salt Lake City native Meredith Ohran (mannika on the boards) started investing about 11 years ago with just four stocks. She has since built her portfolio to a whopping 130 companies and added options and shorting to her toolkit. Read on to learn more about Meredith, including which stocks she's buying right now.
How did you get started investing? Were your parents investors?
My parents were not investors. My father had a great fear of losing any money he saved, so he kept everything in guaranteed, low-interest accounts. I first became aware of investing when I married my husband, Michael, when I was 20. At the time, he was 25 and had some mutual fund investments. I started reading what I could find so I could understand investing. One day, he suggested I check out The Motley Fool. Everything I read there made sense to me. I've continued to read articles and books on investing, but the majority of what I know about investing, I learned from the Fool.
What was your first stock investment?
I think it was the Foolish Four, and they were Eastman Kodak, DuPont, GM, and Caterpillar. And it turned out that the tech bubble burst, and the stock market imploded. Eventually I sold the first three at a loss, but I still own Caterpillar today, and it's been a pretty good investment.
How would you describe your investment approach?
I would have to describe myself as long-term buy and hold. However, I have a difficult time keeping a focused portfolio. I currently own approximately 130 long stock positions. I consider it more conservative, because if one position tanks, there are plenty of others to make up for it. But it also has to do with an inability on my part to let go of stocks that I love (which is most of them). I've recently added options and shorting in the last year, and am finding I really enjoy both of those aspects of investing, too. I think that using options is helping me to start letting go of some of my stock investments. I can always buy it back later or move on to something else. There are always more stocks that I want to buy than money in my accounts.
What have been your biggest investment successes and failures?
Marvel (now owned by Disney
As far as failures, honestly, I can't really remember. I've made all of the mistakes -- buying too high, selling too soon, writing more puts than I could adequately cover, writing calls on stocks I didn't want to sell, etc. It's a learning process. I learn from my mistakes and move on. If I focused on my mistakes, I don't think I could ever stay in the market. I'd be too paralyzed by the fear of doing something wrong. I will make bad choices, it's the nature of investing -- dwelling on it doesn't really help. I asked my husband, and his response was, "We should have bought more Marvel!"
In our upcoming book, Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl, we make the case that women are better suited temperamentally to be great investors -- they are generally more patient, take less risk, stay calmer in turbulent markets, do more research, and hold for the long term. Do you think you invest like a girl?
In the market decline in 2008, I watched as we lost 50% of the value of our investments. I had been prepared to lose 30%, but I never in my wildest dreams imagined I could lose 50%. I didn't panic, I didn't sell, I didn't even lose any sleep. I took the small amount of cash we had available and bought a few stocks. And then I waited. Eventually, my portfolio recovered and then surpassed its pre-2008-downturn value.
Does your husband also invest?
Originally, my husband and I invested our money together, but after the tech bubble burst, it became pretty clear that I had the better temperament for investing. Also, it became clear that I enjoyed it more, so my husband turned our accounts over to me, and I've been doing all of the investing ever since. He only occasionally complains that I get to have all of the fun.
Have you started teaching your children about investing?
I've talked with my kids about investing, but I struggle a bit about the best way to get them started. I picked up The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens and am planning to read it with my two oldest kids (ages 14 and 12) this summer. I'm hoping it has some great ideas in it. If not, I plan to let them start picking stocks for our investment portfolio and let them track them.
What advice would you give other women interested in getting started with investing?
Investing is like shopping. It takes some time and research to decide what you want to buy, but when you find a bargain, it can be quite a rush. Just get started. Understand that you'll make mistakes, accept the fact that at any time you could lose 30% of your portfolio value, and most of all have fun! I love the fact that something I really enjoy doing also contributes to the financial security of my family.
Finally, what stocks are you buying (or watching) now?
I'm really interested in Pebblebrook Hotel Trust
Robyn Gearey does not own shares of any company mentioned here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Pebblebrook Hotel and Seaspan. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of General Motors, Walt Disney, and Pebblebrook Hotel, as well as writing a covered straddle on Seaspan. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.