Should I have stuck with those old stocks…? Let’s See.

Just occasionally in the heat of compulsive decision making, one loses the grand perspective! Really. In 1998, I started trading in the US stock market, I still remember the trepidation and fear that accompanied my first online stock purchases. In those days, I was a Motley Fool reader and bought some suggested stocks based on their ideas. It was a fairly decent portfolio that I purchased for about $8357.84.

Today, I was going through records today of my first stock purchases and here is what I bought in 1998…

The first column is the number of stocks, the stock symbol, the price I paid, the trading cost and the total costs.

18 GM 56.5625 9.99 -1028.12
11 JPM 86 9.99 -955.99
14 MMM 70.1875 0 -982.63
23 MO 42.6875 9.99 -991.8
10 DELL 58.5 9.99 -594.99
10 DELL 59.6875 9.99 -606.87
14 ATHM 73.2344 9.99 -1035.27
25 CAT 42.4375 9.99 -1070.93
25 IP 43.25 9.99 -1091.24
Total -$8357.84

I don’t know how I would have fared in the long run otherwise as I had to sell my stocks then repurchased others… I’m pretty sure my track record isn’t that good. But let’s see if I had just forgotten them for 10 years. What would they be worth now?

The list: ups and downs!

ATHM is now worth $0 … ah, those tech stocks. Can anyone remember what happened to ATHM? I sold out before taking a small loss. I noted that price, because I can’t remember what happened to them after that. All prices are calculated at today’s rates (obviously volatile).

The first column is the number of stocks, the stock symbol, the current price per stock, the total accured dividends, and the total value of the purchase as of today.

18 GM $13.14 $590.90 $827.42
33 JPM $39.94 $460.02 $1,778.04
28 MMM $68.49 $420.56 $2,338.28
23 MO $20.46 $2,265.94 $2,736.52
40 DELL $24.41 $0.00 $976.40
28 ATHM $31.75 $0.00 $889.00
50 CAT $71.15 $432.00 $3,989.50
25 IP $23.21 $262.50 $842.75
Total Purchases $14,377.91

Overall, if I had done nothing in the past ten years, I’d have made over $6,000 on just those stocks, including splits, dividends and spin-offs. If you look at the stocks, you’ll see that that there is a HUGE divergence of performance over the past ten years,

Would I have beaten the Dow Jones?

As it so happens, the DIA ETF started trading the same quarter, so I’m able to track the performance of buying this ETF. (In fact, I did buy it at one point.) Anyway, using a notional monthly average, I’d have been able to buy 106 shares in DIA in 1998. Adding dividends to the total, I’d have made $14,286.68 in those years, so I’d have beaten the stock market but not by much!

Sobering Reality

In reality, I bought and sold more stocks than I remember, I rode the bubble and the coming collapse. Then I failed to sell as stocks tumbled. I then lost ‘interest’ and just sat there stuck in the headlights. Since 2003, I’ve been pursuing a more dividend focused story than ever, and today’s research really shows that dividends would have accounted for over 30% of the total gains! That’s not to be sneezed at.

I’ll be detailing much more after the blog’s reorganization… yes, I’ll be having a stock blog! Stay tuned.

Any stock stories to share?… do drop by!

This story has been edited three times for inappropriate formating, replacing/removing the chosen Flickr images (not properly licensed) and tidying up formatting.