As a child, I remember dozing in the backseat of my father's dusty green Pontiac. That was 1972. The car was hot and filled with pipe smoke, my sister was sitting beside me, and neither one of us was technically breathing or hearing ...
The voice on the radio
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 blue-chip industrials fell 1.9 points in afternoon trading to close the week at 917.2." OK, I get it ... I'm old. But aren't you at least a little curious why my sister and I couldn't hear? We had our hands over our ears!
That's because we despised that voice on the radio. How it droned on and on about the "industrials." How much did we hate it? To this day, my sister swears that the thought of that voice is what chases her from the room the instant anyone mentions stocks and bonds. But I hated that voice, too. So how come I check my stock quotes every 15 minutes? How come I ended up "in the business"?
Where have all the blue chips gone?
Come to think of it, that evil voice may have affected me. It might explain why I have never owned a single blue-chip or industrial stock. That's right, you won't find Alcoa
To be fair, I do own biotech powerhouse Genzyme
And isn't that what a "blue chip" is, after all: A grand, solid company you expect to be alive and kicking when you start drawing down your retirement account? I sure think so. At the same time, if we're going to make a major production out of buying our very first blue chip, maybe we should pick one that is just a wee bit bluer still.
So how do we buy a blue chip?
Look, you're busy. I'm busy. We're all busy. That's why I advise cheating wherever you can. That's why I stole a glance at The Motley Fool's 10 Monster Stocks blue-chip report. I mean, let's be honest: Am I really going to spend the summer researching a bunch of big, boring companies just to buy one blue chip?
OK, that's an exaggeration, but just barely. And I really am taking the easy way out. I really am going to pick my blue chip from one of the 10 "monster stocks" recommended in the report. After all, I've had the pleasure of working with Mathew Emmert and the Admiral and most of the other stock pickers on board ... they flat-out know more about big, stable companies than I do.
Now I make my second confession
In the spirit of full disclosure, I do own a blue chip or two. Prepping this column, I took a hard look at my portfolio. It turns out that if you count my 401(k) and IRAs, better than 60% of my holdings are in S&P 500-type index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
So, I do have a modest position in ExxonMobil
In his new book, The Future for Investors, the Wharton professor charts the overall returns of boring old Standard Oil against good old IBM
Yes, I'm a slacker
But before you go blaming "the voice" for my lack of blue, remember that I love small caps. That's where the action is, after all, and I am convinced that over the long term, investors should own their fair share of these up-and-coming businesses. That's also where I like to spend my limited time and resources digging around.
But that doesn't mean we shouldn't all own some mid caps and large caps, too ... and at least one certifiable blue chip. Which is why I'm fixing to buy mine. Already, I have my watch list narrowed to 10 hot prospects. In the next few days, I will further whittle it down and pull the trigger.
Do you have your blue chip?
You and I have chatted before about my enthusiasm for small stocks. You know I'm a fan of Motley Fool Hidden Gems investing -- in no small part because Tom Gardner's small-cap value recommendations are averaging nearly 30% annual returns thus far. If you are a small-cap investor like I am, but need a little "blue," there is an interesting solution.
You can try Hidden Gems on Tom for 30 days at no cost to you. Or, even better, you can join Tom risk-free at Hidden Gems for one year and download The Motley Fool's first-of-its-kind Blue-Chip Report 2005: 10 Monster Stocks for the Next Decade right now -- for free. This way, you get the best of both worlds. Click here to find out more while this offer is still good.
Paul Elliott owns Genzyme and Moody's. Moody's is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.