A Rookie Mistake in High-Growth Investing

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Back in July, before the volatility of August roiled the markets, I encouraged investors with a penchant for high-growth stocks to join me in creating what I dubbed the "CrazyPortfolio."

Usually, when the investing waters get choppy, high-growth, high-P/E, heavily shorted stocks are the first and fastest stocks to tank. With that in mind, I believe the 10 stocks that I singled out have actually fared quite well.

The table below shows how the stocks have fared on an absolute basis, and against the S&P 500.

Company

Change

Versus S&P 500 (percentage points)

Country Style Cooking

5%

13

MAKO Surgical (NAS: MAKO)

15%

23

Netflix (NAS: NFLX)

(45%)

(37)

Qihoo 360 (NYS: QIHU)

(17%)

(9)

Zipcar

(17%)

(8)

Westport Innovations (NAS: WPRT)

19%

26

Travelzoo (NAS: TZOO)

(62%)

(55)

Ancestry.com

(36%)

(29)

Green Mountain Coffee (NAS: GMCR)

21%

28

lululemon athletica (NAS: LULU)

(4%)

2

 

  

Total

(12%)

(5)

Source: Fool.com.

Though it's only been two months -- and we Fools like to invest with a three- to five-year horizon -- I'm more than pleased with how these 10 stocks have held up. Just as high-growth stocks are the first to sink at any sign of trouble, they're usually the quickest to shoot upward when things are going well. My bigger problem, which I'll get to later on, is that my portfolio isn't doing this well.

Ouch!
Some of the companies listed above have really been taking a beating lately. Travelzoo announced earnings that came in significantly lower than analyst expectations. That, combined with a top-line miss as well, doomed the stock to a 62% fall. I still think the market overreacted, as the company hired more deals specialists than ever before, and they didn't get a chance to bring in any revenue before the quarter ended.

Genealogy website Ancestry.com has been hit with a double-whammy over the past two months. First, its third-quarter outlook was disappointing, then analysts at Wedge Partners issued a note of concern regarding Ancestry's new pricing model.

And then, of course, we have Netflix. Oh, Netflix. So much inkhas alreadybeen spilledover you, I doubt there's much more I can add.

Double ouch!!
While Qihoo, Zipcar, lululemon, and Country Style Cooking all performed admirably, it was the trio of Westport, MAKO, and Green Mountain that really hit the cover off the ball.

Westport, which engineers engines that can run on natural gas, already had a promising partnership with Cummins on its table. But the announcement of a new partnership with Shell to encourage the use of liquid natural gas in heavy-duty vehicles was news to investors' ears.

MAKO, the maker of robots that help doctors perform knee and hip replacement surgeries, is flying high thanks to an 81% spike in revenue in its quarterly report in August.  

And Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, with its Keurig coffeemakers slowly making their way into everyone's kitchens, can't seem to do any wrong. Earnings came out shortly after I penned my first article, and management is expecting sales growth of between 100% and 105%!

Investing biases 101
As I said, my own personal version of the Crazy Portfolio isn't doing quite as well. The problem: MAKO, Green Mountain, and Westport are the three stocks that I have failed, for one reason or another, to put into my own portfolio.

Chalk it up to being too busy, trading restrictions, or whatever you want. The real reason I didn't buy is actually quite simple: I was hoping the price might go down a little. This is a classic example of two sins any high-growth investor should be wary of: anchoring and being unwilling to add to winners.

Anchoring occurs when we start to home in on the price of a stock when we first considered buying it. For stocks that keep going up (or down), it can be a deadly bias to your portfolio. And when it comes to adding to winners, no one has pounded the table quite as hard as David Gardner about this: "You want to add to companies that continue to be excellent, and this usually means adding to stocks whose price has appreciated."

Don't make the same mistake I did
While there is absolutely no excuse for not doing your own due diligence, there's also no excuse for waiting to execute your plans once you have made them. I've offered up these 10 ideas for you, but for an even more in-depth look into some of the most promising stocks out there, I encourage you to take a look at The Motley Fool's latest special free report: "5 Stocks The Motley Fool Owns -- And You Should, Too." Inside, you'll get all the details about five companies that The Motley Fool has put its own money into. The report is yours today, absolutely free!

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Brian Stoffel owns shares of Country Style Cooking, Qihoo 360, Netflix, Lululemon, Zipcar, Travelzoo and Ancestry.com You can follow him on Twitter at @TMFStoffel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Zipcar and Lululemon Athletica. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Cummins, Zipcar, Ancestry.com, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Westport Innovations, Country Style Cooking, Lululemon Athletica, Netflix, MAKO Surgical, and Travelzoo, buying puts in Netflix, as well as creating a lurking gator position in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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