Picking up Nickels

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My worst stock picking blunder

Case in point: Lucent Technologies (LU).

Although I had mainly invested in mutual funds up to that point, in 1999 I decided to embrace the stock market euphoria and opened an online brokerage account to purchase individual stocks. I felt empowered when some of my stock picks had done well, so I decided to purchase 40 shares of high-flying Lucent Technologies when its stock price dipped a bit in August 2000. One month later, I saw that this great stock had actually gone down a few more bucks per share, so I bought 60 more shares.

Of course, the chart (courtesy of nasdaq.com) shows what a horrible investment this turned out to be and I learned a valuable (and expensive) lesson at the hands of Lucent Technologies. I finally gave up on this dog last year, and ended up taking a loss of about $4,000.

Not long after my investment in Lucent, I came to the realization that I'm better off getting exposure to the stock market through low cost mutual funds. Although I did pick some stocks that have done very well (like ORCL, LOW, and PG), I haven't bought an individual stock in 6 years. I admit it: I'm just not very good at picking stocks.

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