The stock market's gyrations of the past year may have been unsettling to many investors, but members of investment clubs have been keeping their cool.
Despite the radical shift the stock market has made from unprofitable tech stocks trading at nosebleed prices to the return of value investing, many investment club members say they're staying the course, and some are even taking advantage of the market's weakness to buy more.
"There are some wonderful things to buy now," says Yvonne Hurst, a Milwaukee native who has been with her investment club,
, for 18 years.
Hurst says at their most recent meeting, The Upticks decided to buy roofing services company
and added more to the group's position in
. She describes the 11-member club's portfolio as conservative, although it does own some more volatile issues like
. Even though these stocks have had their ups and downs, Hurst says the group is confident about their long-term prospects.
"There are a couple of issues that we're very disappointed about with Motorola," observes Hurst. "But we've experienced that before with that company and they are not going out of business."
Many other clubs are echoing the refrain of The Upticks' Hurst, saying the buy-and-hold strategy advocated by the
National Association of Investors Corporation
, which provides educational support for about 36,500 clubs -- around half the nation's total.
"We've pretty much held on to everything we've purchased, and we've done well," says Bev Cabellon, a member of the
Cupertino Investment Club
in San Francisco.
Cabellon, who has been a member of the club for 2 1/2 of its 3 1/2-year lifespan, says her group has bought some highflying tech stocks like
, which has risen 930% since the club purchased shares in February 1999 at $8.52 a share, making the club around $27,888. The club's total portfolio has gained 91.4% since its inception in August of 1997, compared with a 46% rise on the
for the same period.
"We've had a few risky investments like Qualcomm, but it was profitable," says Cabellon. "There's nothing in the portfolio we didn't think we couldn't do well with."
NAIC membership manager Jonathan Strong said that attitude is not surprising given the group's mantra of investing for the long term.
"We follow along with the philosophy of investing in large, well-known, consumer-oriented stocks," says Strong. "It's like the
philosophy. If you drive by
and see the parking lot full, it might be a good company to look at. It's the touch-and-feel approach that held up our members' portfolios in the year 2000."
The NAIC's Top 100 Index, which measures the top 100 stocks held by NAIC investment clubs, has outperformed both the S&P 500 and the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
for the three-, five- and 10-year periods. That index is underperforming in the one-year and one-month periods, however. The top five most widely held stocks by investment clubs in 2000 were
, Lucent, Home Depot,
Strong does admit that NAIC membership has tapered off in the past year after doubling from January 1995 to early 1999. As of June of 2000, the number of NAIC investment clubs reached 36,650, only slightly higher than 36,461 at the end of 1999 and lower than the 37,129 clubs in existence in 1998. However, that figure is still over double the 16,054 NAIC clubs in 1995.
"When there was turbulence in the market, we did see something of a pullback from the number of people joining investment clubs," says Strong.
That trend is not surprising to Brooke Harrington, an assistant professor of sociology and public policy at
who has studied investment clubs. One of Harrington's studies found that it takes around 18 months for investment club enrollments to react to the market's movements. So if the market sells off, investment club members tend to wait and see if the market's direction is a lasting trend before deciding whether to stay in the game or jump ship, Harrington says.
Harrington is also not surprised about the patience that investment clubs seem to have with even their most volatile stocks.
"The whole idea of a club completely puts the brakes on rapid changes in portfolios," says Harrington. "You have to funnel decisions through the group. It's not a recipe for rapid-fire decision making."
Indeed, most investment clubs meet monthly to evaluate their portfolios and decide whether or not to make changes based on the analysis of members. At The Upticks, members will go off and do further research into a company after a member has presented it as a buy at the monthly meeting. The group then decides whether or not to purchase the stock at its next meeting.
"We are adding to our positions and basically taking the opportunity to purchase as many bargains as we can," says Cindy Rallston, who belongs to a group called the
Dollar$ and Cents Investment Club
in Overland Park, Kan. Rallston says her club is now adding to its positions in
"I love tech stocks personally and I seem to be more enchanted with that one particular sector than others," says Rallston. "But one thing we are trying to do is get away from so many tech stocks and be more diversified."