The Fool has a robust disclosure policy in place, and I remember being there and cheering when we debuted it, many years ago. There are lots of nice things about it, such as the fact that Fool writers are allowed to own shares of stocks we write about -- as long as we disclose our ownership in articles that mention our holdings. Here -- check out an article of mine: "Come On, Get Happy." Scroll to the bottom, and you'll see my disclosure: "Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Home Depot (NYSE: HD), General Electric (NYSE: GE), and Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN)." (And now that I've mentioned them again, I'll disclose that again at the end of this article.)

I've heard that some other financial media companies don't permit various employees to own stock in individual companies. There's an upside to that -- it means that the employee can't be touting a stock, hoping to profit as more people buy shares and the price goes up. But there's also a downside -- people who aren't actively participating in the investment process may be less interested in it, and even less good at it. And when it comes to investing, who better to write about it than those who invest themselves?

Don't over-interpret
All that said, I can see how readers could get the wrong idea about the stocks we own. If you like a particular writer's articles, it's only natural to be curious what they invest in. It may even be tempting to buy those stocks for yourself without doing your own research, relying solely on the writer's opinion.

But be careful when you scroll down to the bottom of our articles and you get excited to see that I own shares of Home Surgery Kits (ticker: OUCHH), thinking that it must therefore be a good buy. Because:

  • I may have bought the stock long, long ago, and may be sitting on some gains so big that I don't care so much if the stock drops 30% next week.
  • I may have a portfolio worth $100,000, but I may have just $1,000 in that particular stock, meaning that it's not a holding that matters as much to me as others.
  • My parents may have given me the shares in the company, and I may be planning to sell them, thinking they're stinkers.
  • I may be a lousy investor, someone who gives good advice in her articles, but doesn't always heed her own advice.

Take note of our disclosures, but don't necessarily read too much into them. For explicit stock recommendations, try some of our investing newsletters -- for free.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Home Depot, General Electric, and Amgen. Home Depot is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Try our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.