Several years ago, I was on the sidelines in all discussions about a brilliant new show called The X-Files. I'd missed the first few episodes, so when I finally tuned in, I didn't know the Cigarette-Smoking Man from the ice-cream man.

But then, right as I was about to give up on the series and accept my fate as a social outcast, Fox was kind enough to provide me with a complete primer, introducing all the characters, explaining the interwoven plot lines, and cluing me in on the will-they-or-won't-they relationship between Mulder and Scully. Finally up to speed, I was a faithful viewer of the show from then on -- at least until the Terminator 2 guy took over for David Duchovny.

Why do I share this story of an early television addiction? Because at 4 p.m. ET today, Motley Fool Rule Breakers will be releasing its annual review issue, bringing you up to speed on all the active recommendations made in the first two years of the service.

Growing or gorging?
Now don't get us wrong: We're buy-to-hold -- and hold-and-hold -- investors. But with growth stocks on the way up, it's always worthwhile to make sure your investment thesis is still applicable. Why? Because sometimes management becomes intoxicated by growth and tries to make its mark on the market. That often steers the company away from its bread and butter in the name of a short-term bump. That's bad -- and certainly not a reason to add new money to a position.

Peter Lynch calls that "diworseification." In One Up on Wall Street, Lynch recalls the tale of General Mills (NYSE:GIS). "General Mills owned Chinese restaurants, Italian restaurants, steak houses, Parker Brothers toys, Izod shirts, coins, stamps, travel companies, Eddie Bauer retail outlets, and Footjoy products, many acquired in the 1960s . [which was] the greatest decade for diworseification since the Roman Empire."

Ouch. Three decades later, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) wanted to be an online lifestyle dot-com. Huh? That's a classic example of a soaring growth stock getting too big for its britches -- to the detriment of its shareholders. Thankfully, the company refocused on its core coffee business to great rewards. eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) acquired Skype, and, well, I'm still a little confused by the deal. The hope is that CEO Meg Whitman knows what she's doing, but I still have a hard time recognizing the synergies between the two respected firms.

Also consider JDSU (NASDAQ:JDSU), a very successful company that turned a bit too aggressive with its growth and started acquiring like crazy -- right before the bubble burst. Acquiring smaller competitors can have powerful effects on the bottom line, but JDSU seemingly overpaid for its acquisitions -- the company wrote down nearly $45 billion in goodwill relating to acquisitions of SDL and E-Tek Dynamics, among others.

These are all traits to avoid and a reason to stay on top of your portfolio.

When the big picture gets fuzzy
Another reason to give your portfolio a check-up from time to time might be obvious, but it's worth repeating. Take it from Peter Lynch. In his other classic, Beating the Street, he writes: "The best stock to buy may be the one you already own." That's sound advice, but it can be a real challenge to pinpoint the one winner in a portfolio of 10 to 20 stocks.

Moreover, a lot of folks assume value when they see stocks that are substantially down for the year. Others see stocks that are way up and assume they're overpriced. But that's not always the case. The stock that David (Gardner, not Duchovny) and his team are re-recommending to subscribers today is already up more than 20% since it was first singled out by the team.

David was also a big fan of Headwaters (NYSE:HW) when he recommended it last April. Since then, shares have dropped nearly 40% for a number of reasons, the largest of which is a looming question about governmental tax credits. Does this represent a buying opportunity for shrewd investors, or does more trouble await? Only due diligence can help you tell the difference.

Foolish final thoughts
If you haven't had one in a while, now's a great time for an annual stock check-up. You might just find that one of your studs is turning into a dud, or you might even find a great candidate for new money.

And finally, consider taking a no-obligation 30-day free trial to Rule Breakers today. You'll get to see the company the team feels is the best bet for new money now, as well as a new growth firm that joins the ranks of the Rule Breakers. And you'll get access to all of the initial recommendation write-ups, plus what the team thinks of them now. If you don't like what you see, just quit. But especially with the review issue coming out this afternoon, it's worth a look. After all, the truth is out there.

This article was originally published on Sept. 21, 2005. It has been updated.

Fool contributor Roger Friedman is the managing editor of newsletters and the author of Nipple Confusion, Uncoordinated Pooping and Spittle: The Life of a Newborn's Father . Roger wears pants. He does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. eBay and Starbucks are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.