Sold My First Stock: OSTK

When I started investing five years ago on Sharebuilder, the plan was to be a buy-and-hold investor. What I didn’t realize is that buy and hold investing isn’t a wise strategy for companies that are extremely volatile and killing your gains.

My stock portfolio (not counting index funds over at Vanguard and my IRAs/401k) is currently $58k, which is not a fortune, but also nothing to shake a stick at. Increasing that 10% a year is great, losing 30% a year is not so great. My stock portfolio has gone up, and down, and up and down, and down, and down, and up again. It’s now up 8.6%, with a few big losers, and a few winners to date. The biggest winner — no shock — is Apple.

The biggest loser is Comverge, which I originally bought for $18 a share and dollar cost averaged down to $1.65, where it is today. While I haven’t thrown Comverge out the window yet (after losing $4.5k, I prefer to let it live on as a paper loss instead of admitting defeat), today I decided it was time to get rid of one stock that has been sharply trending downward.

Overstock.com is down 6.3% for the day due to “nearing default.” That, and the $550 of the $1000 I invested in it having disappeared in the past few months, was enough for me to hit the sell button for the first time. I sold all my shares.

Good move or bad move? I’m not sure. If Overstock manages to gain back some of its losses, it was a dumb move. I’ll never see that $550 again. That said, I now have $450 liquid to invest in anything. I can buy one share of Apple stock. I can buy $450 worth of shares of XLF, an ETF that follows the financial market — even though I’ve “lost” money on that one so far as well.

If I’m going to invest in individual stocks, except for the big winners, I’ve realized I can’t just sit back and hold forever — because that could get really ugly, really fast.

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