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Investing in Aggressive Stocks: The Pros, the Cons, the Truth

Investing in aggressive stocks gets a bad rap, but it’s (mostly) undeserved if you size your positions appropriately and stick to a system.


Most of us have encountered an aggressive driver at least once. It’s an unpleasant experience, to say the least, and it’s dangerous. On the other hand, we applaud friends and family who aggressively pursue education. We want our firefighters to work aggressively to control forest fires, but we don’t want to deal with the aggressive personality at work. Aggressiveness, as a concept, is neither good nor bad; it’s the context that gives it power. Aggressive stocks are no different. You can lose a lot of money in short order with aggressive stocks. You can also make significant gains. Understandably, your approach and outlook make a massive difference in how you view these investments.

In theory, we would all like to make more money. Whether it’s for retirement, a big vacation, a new home, or to pay off bills, there is undoubtedly an incentive to look for those “easy money” opportunities. Investing in aggressive stocks (though anything but “easy money”) has the potential to make that happen. The reality, however, is that few of us are willing to take that risk. A few years ago, a national poll conducted by the Pew Charitable Trust, in conjunction with focus groups in three major cities, found that 92 percent of Americans prefer the security of financial stability over income growth. Meanwhile, 69 percent of Americans worry that they won’t have enough money to retire.

That’s quite the conundrum. To make matters more confusing, everyone in the investment industry tells you that slow and steady is the only way to prepare for life’s expected (and unexpected) expenses and your eventual retirement. The mutual fund people (who make money by taking a yearly cut off the top of what they manage for you) tell you to keep shoveling money into your diversified account and leave it there. And if you’re a little older than you should be (given the amount you have in your account), you need to shovel more.

Like much in life, it’s not that clear cut.


The (not entirely ugly) truth about aggressive stocks

If your portfolio doesn’t include some exposure to aggressive growth—meaning you own individual stocks that are leaders in a bull market—you’re short-changing yourself. Will these aggressive growth stocks underperform when the market corrects? Of course! And that’s why you need an advisory like Cabot Growth Investor, which will lower your exposure to growth stocks when the market turns bearish. But not having any exposure to aggressive growth stocks because there’s risk isn’t a responsible way to manage your portfolio; after all, the preferred choice of financial advisors, which is to stick your entire equity exposure into index funds, has produced three monumental drawdowns since the 21st century began.

Even so, investing in aggressive stocks is not for everyone. Here are some of the factors to consider before taking the plunge.

Aggressive stocks: The pros

  • Though mutual fund people and financial advisors seldom acknowledge this, it is possible to beat the broad market by strategically investing in aggressive growth stocks.
  • With the right aggressive investing strategy, you’ll have the most money invested in your biggest winners and the least amount invested in your worst choices.
  • When you find a few good stocks, the gains can come in big bunches.
  • You can buy smaller amounts if you want to invest in fast-moving stocks but don’t want to live and die with every tick of the market.
  • For investors who have gotten sufficiently terrified about the state of their retirement accounts only recently as their personal odometers have ticked over into their fifth and sixth decades, aggressive stocks have the potential to help you maximize your investments.

Aggressive stocks: The cons

  • With higher returns comes higher risk.
  • Managing an aggressive growth portfolio isn’t easy. It takes hours of study and analysis, and you have to be prepared to live through some dismaying down moves as stocks hit the rocks from adverse earnings reports, scandals, market downturns, and inexplicable failures to thrive.
  • To get the big winners, you must invest in fast-growing leaders, but you also need a position you can hold on to for months without panicking, because big moves play out over time.
  • The more volatile your results, the more faith you’re going to need to stick with a system. It’s easy to stay with the plan when all your stocks are going up, but it’s infinitely more difficult when a falling market and some bad earnings results are gashing your portfolio, especially when the pain continues for many months.

The secret to investing in aggressive stocks

Many investors are searching for a system that (a) invests in cutting-edge leading stocks with dynamic new products or services, and in turn, allows them to hit the occasional home run … but (b) they don’t want to see their portfolio take enormous drawdowns during the occasional sour earnings season.

Can you have both? To some extent, yes. To get there, all you need to consider are two simple portfolio management techniques: position sizing (buying smaller amounts, dollar-wise, of a stock) and taking partial profits (buying larger positions, but taking some profits when things are good).

Finding aggressive stocks isn’t easy, but we’re here to help you. Cabot Growth Investor reviews IPOs, market leaders, the stocks to watch, what to hold, and what to sell. Learn how to profit from growth stocks with Cabot’s time-tested investing system.

We’re curious. What would you like to know about investing in aggressive stocks? Let us know in the comments.


Brad Simmerman is the Editor of Cabot Wealth Daily, the award-winning free daily advisory.