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Finance Glossary

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Buy And Hold


Buy and Hold is a style of equity investing. Using complex language decoders, we can decipher that the concept means that you "buy" stocks - and then "hold" them. Convoluted idea, we know. The King of Buy and Hold is Warren Buffett, the Tiger-when-Tiger-was-Great of the investing business. Except that Warren has been around longer than Tiger and is way wealthier.

The strategy for most buy-and-hold investors is to concentrate their portfolio on owning just a relatively few names - less than a dozen for most of the world - and then just own those companies "forever". For years, this strategy came under fire from stockbrokers who don't make any money when you just hold stocks and don't transact or trade them.

The core skill in this strategy revolves around getting the company right. For a while, AOL looked like a "forever" stock to some, only to die an ignominious death. Coca Cola might be a "forever" stock - Buffett bought it in the mid-1970s and has owned it ever since - and it's been a fabulous stock. Nothing like addictive substance and Teamster-blessed duopoly distribution economics to keep margins high.

The other big plus in the buy and hold strategy zone is that owners "never" realize gains - which means that they don't pay taxes. That is good - unless you are an IRS employee or a Communist. Or just stupid. The downside? Volatility. Owning a concentrated portfolio means that you will go through many more ups and downs than you would if you owned 100 names. Some people worry about the shorter term - and if you're 78 and retired, it's a valid concern.

But if you can handle air pockets and speed bumps, and you can identify great companies (as opposed to great stocks) the buy and hold strategy is hard to beat.