Oh, I realize that I'm borrowing quite liberally here. Nissan Pathfinder's "tell better stories" tagline is clearly not my creation. It's a brilliant ad campaign, showcasing exotic road-trip tales that can be realized behind the wheel of a Pathfinder. Original? Not this time. Not when Nissan has done all of the clever brainwork.
Now, I don't drive a Pathfinder, but I do love to travel. Stories come with the mileage. If you had a while, I would tell you about the time that I ruffled through a dumpster for the keys to my car, or the time my sisters and I crashed a wedding in Killarney, or a tale of a watery tumble in Venice. My wife and I missing our honeymoon cruise? That's one that never gets dull.
But what about your portfolio? Every stock you own tells a story. Some of them are grand tales of bold technologies or undiscovered revolutionaries. Some of them come wrapped in more passion and intrigue than a Dan Brown novel. Some of them, well, don't. Maybe you don't realize it at first. This is something that you flesh out over time, not necessarily the moment that you submit your initial buy order. If stocks could talk, man, would they gossip. They don't. That's why it's up to you to voice their stories.
Tall tales are better than stories about shorting
Is your portfolio boring? Try this simple test. Jot down some of the stocks that you own and approach some loved ones. Explain why you purchased the shares and why you believe that they are superior investing ideas. If you've lulled them to a state of slumber, it's not that you failed to tap your inner Twain. No way. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but if they're snoozing away on you -- or you just feel too awkward to even put my test to the test -- you need to get your hands on stocks that tell better stories.
I must have been smiling something wicked the day I bought into Intuitive Surgical
It worked this time. Robotic arms performing surgical applications in the operating room? Hospital orders rising as machines already in place are being used more frequently? High-margin profitability and the suddenly plausible notion of robotic arms eventually being wielded in the military battlefield? I didn't even have to mention that Cal Ripken Jr. was a shareholder. He isn't, really. Then again, maybe he should be.
Get righteous, get giddy
Stocks with amazing stories aren't just entertaining. They can be pretty darn lucrative, too. I'm guessing that shareholders in companies like Apple Computer
How can you not admire Apple, the personal computing pioneer that had been downgraded to a niche player until its iPod digital music thrust the company back into the mainstream spotlight? What's not to like about Sirius, a gutsy player in satellite radio that is making some big bets on acquiring top talent in a bold platform that will redefine the country's listening experience?
Even when the stock isn't doing so hot, like that of eBay
I have been a Netflix
Cents and sensibilities
I rarely buy companies just after they go public. I don't necessarily think that my entry strategy should be an insider's exit strategy. It's just that I like to see how a company performs relative to expectations for a few quarters before diving in. Then again, after watching Google
I found that shortly after Great Wolf Resorts
Get me started, and I can probably talk about Great Wolf for a good half hour. That's another test. If you can't muster more than a few sentences about some of the stocks that you're holding, maybe you really should be working on stocks that tell better stories.
Naturally, great stories are worth sharing. They're what make campfires so much fun. Some of the stocks that I have mentioned here (Intuitive Surgical and Great Wolf) were already singled out in our Rule Breakers newsletter. That's a subscriber service dedicated to unearthing ultimate growth stock ideas. If you want to see if your portfolio can use a new copywriter, you have nothing to lose with a free 30-day trial.
Tell better stories.
Better yet, tell better stories with happier endings.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz isn't sure he even knows how to spin yarn, but he does fancy non-fiction over fiction. He owns shares in Netflix, Intuitive Surgical, and Great Wolf Resorts. Netflix and eBay are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks.The Fool has a disclosure policy.
Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.