Individual stocks tend to have highly volatile prices.
The returns you might receive on any single stock may vary wildly.
Best Performing Stocks
If you invest in the right stock, you could make bundles of money.
- For instance, Eaton Vance, an investment-management company, has had the best-performing stock for almost 25 years. If you had invested $10,000 in 1979 in Eaton Vance, assuming you had reinvested all dividends, your investment would have been worth $10.6 million by December 2004.
Worst Performing Stocks
On the downside, since the returns on stock investments are not guaranteed, you risk losing everything on any given investment.
- There are hundreds of dot-com investments that went bankrupt or are trading for a fraction of their former highs in early 2000.
- Even established, well-known companies such as Enron, WorldCom and Kmart filed for bankruptcy and investors in these companies lost everything.
All Stocks in Between these two Extremes
Between these two extremes is the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly fluctuation of any given company's stock price.
- Most stocks won't double in the coming year, nor will many go to zero.
- But the average difference between the yearly high and low stock prices of the typical stock on the NYSE is nearly 40%.
Stocks that don't perform over Long Time
In addition to being volatile, there is the risk that a single company's stock price may not increase significantly over time.
- In 1965, you could have purchased General Motors' stock for $50 per share (split adjusted). By May 2005 (4 decades later), your shares of General Motors would be worth only about $30 each. Though dividends would have provided some ease to the pain, General Motors' return has been terrible.
- You would have been better off if you had invested your money in a bank savings account instead of General Motors' stock.
All your Eggs in a Single Basket
Clearly, if you put all of your eggs in a single basket, sometimes that basket may fail, breaking all the eggs.
Other times, that basket will hold the equivalent of a winning lottery ticket.