Next month, Americans (those that vote, in any event) will head to the polls to choose a new chief executive. The major candidates and their running mates are pledging to steward the nation through continued prosperity and fiscal health. To determine which candidate is best suited to run the nation's fiscal engine, TheStreet.com examined how the candidates handle their own financial houses, and huddled with professional financial planners. The planners had some advice for the candidates on how to improve their portfolios. So this week, we're running the advisers' presidential portfolio makeovers of the major candidates, as well as the Republican and Democratic vice presidential contenders. We examined Democrat Al Gore's portfolio Monday and Republican candidate George W. Bush's Tuesday. Today, we're going Green with Green Party hopeful Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader, that most principled of cheapskates, is probably the candidate financial planners would most like to marry. He is a saver. It's not just that he has a cheap, old car; he doesn't own a car at all (he rides the subway and takes buses). No big tailoring bills here: his suits betray that insouciant indifference to fashion coveted by D.C. wonks. Yes, ascetic-in-chief Nader may be the only candidate who could win votes from both the anti-WTO crowd and the Amish.
Though he spends only about $25,000 a year, according to a spokesperson, Nader brings in a pretty decent income: including speaking fees, he earned close to $400,000 last year. Sidney Blum, a certified financial planner and CPA at
Successful Financial Solutions
in Deerfield, Ill., estimates Nader earned an additional $140,000 from investments last year, not counting capital gains.
But Blum thinks
Nader's portfolio -- worth about $4.5 million -- isn't diversified enough. The candidate has about 57% in cash or near-cash, less than 5% in bonds, and only about 38% in equities. Of that 38%, 25% is concentrated in one stock:
. "If you take away the cash, he's sitting with a high percent in what we'd call aggressive growth," says Blum. "I'd say that the portfolio's really overweighted in one stock and in tech in particular." Nader has an 87% concentration in technology, two-and-a-half times the benchmark 33% of the S&P.
Blum suggests Nader apply some of his considerable annual income towards investments in other sectors, like health care or financials. "If it were an individual client, I'd say sell
some Cisco and diversify," says Blum. "We' d like to have Cisco in every portfolio that we have, but it's just that too much of a good thing is dangerous."
Other stock holdings include
. Nader appears to take an interest in rooting out emerging tech players; Blum said he had to troll the Web to track down information on an obscure over-the-counter holding,
, a fiber-optics company.
Of Nader's equity holdings, about 80% is in large-cap companies, 11% in medium-cap, and 9% in small-cap. Eighty-three percent of his holdings are in growth stocks, with a mere 14% in value and 3% in blend.
Nader also has fairly modest stakes in mutual funds
Fidelity Magellan and
With a 60/40 ratio of cash and bonds to stocks, Blum says, Nader could be considered "fairly risk-averse." "There are not that many
stock holdings; most of it's in cash and a couple of bonds. He's placed high risk on some of the stocks, but he's got cash there if everything went to hell in a handbasket -- probably enough to live on."
That's good, since Nader isn't given much of a chance of winning the Presidency. Blum notes, "Running for office will probably help his speaking fees go up."