2020 has been a tale of two markets. Stocks took a fast and steep nosedive in March, only to recover -- and then some -- since. As measured by the S&P 500, the U.S. stock market is up almost 15% this year with just weeks remaining before the start of 2021.
Given the state of the global economy, this may be surprising. But many businesses putting digital tools to use have found new ways to thrive during the pandemic. Given the dawn of a new digital era, I purchased lots of new stocks I thought might do well in the next decade. Not all of them were winners. The worst one by far was GoHealth (NASDAQ:GOCO). Here's why I'm not selling -- yet.
Not all IPOs stay red hot
GoHealth is an online insurance marketplace, primarily focusing on Medicare plans but connecting families with other basic healthcare insurance as well. With an average of over 10,000 people turning 65 every day in America, I was attracted to GoHealth's large and growing customer base, as well as its flexibility to branch out into other types of insurance down the road.
The company completed its initial public offering (IPO) in July and raised nearly $1 billion. It joined a number of other insurance upstarts to go public in the last year, along with Lemonade and Root Insurance. The insurance industry isn't exactly my forte, with my only other investment in this space being Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway -- owner of Geico, among other financial protection services. But I was drawn to GoHealth's online marketplace rather than its status as an insurer. I made a small initial investment of less than 0.5% of my total portfolio value.
It was a toss-up between GoHealth and Lemonade -- and it hasn't worked out so far. As of this writing, GoHealth is down over 40% from where I purchased it, making it by far my worst purchase this year.
Why I'm not selling yet
I attribute the size of my loss from GoHealth to one primary factor: I broke one of my personal investing rules. I usually wait to buy a fresh IPO for at least a quarter or two. If I had followed my own advice, I wouldn't have lost nearly as much as I have so far.
Nevertheless, I'm not selling and moving on, for three reasons.
1. My reasons for purchasing haven't changed
Sure, my timing could have been better. But the reasons I initially made a buy haven't changed. The U.S. population is aging and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. And GoHealth's actual business results have been respectable since its IPO. Total revenue is up 72% year over year through the first nine months of 2020, including a 52% advance during the third quarter.
Granted, there are reasons for the share price decline, most notably that GoHealth's rapid expansion is cooling off headed into 2021. But growth north of 70% was never the long-term assumption. There is still plenty of room for GoHealth to expand going forward, albeit at a more modest rate.
2. GoHealth is a tiny position in my portfolio
GoHealth was a small position at the time of initial purchase, and an even smaller one now thanks to the post-IPO drop. At well under 0.5% of my portfolio value, this stock has done minimal damage. But with long-term potential still there, it could still contribute to some meaningful growth someday.
If in need of cash to redeploy elsewhere, I'd start by selling core positions in my portfolio that were below-average performers this year, like Walt Disney or Comcast.
3. I want exposure to a basket of small stocks
My personal investment style dictates I own a number of small companies with big upside potential. I'm young, I don't need the money anytime soon, and I continue to add to my investment account on a monthly basis. I can afford to wait on these small stocks for a long time, invest more in the best of the best over time, and part ways with the laggards down the road once I'm convinced my investment thesis is broken.
Rather than sell, I'm more inclined to add a little more to my GoHealth position right now. If the stock turns a corner and starts to show promise again, great. If, in another year or two, it's still dead weight -- or business fundamentals deteriorate sooner than that -- then it will be time to move on to greener pastures.