The point of yesterday's article was misconstrued by many, so it must have been poorly conveyed by me. To clarify -- for the do-it-yourselfer:
1. Focus on the real goal, which for most is having enough money when you need it -- not necessarily beating any index. Having enough when you need it comes from a combination of savings and growth.
2. Someone who wants to use individual stocks, but not make a full-time job out of it, could probably pick 10 household megacap domestic names, combine that with an adequate savings rate for the next 20 years and have a decent shot of having enough money when they need it.
3. If over the next 20 years the S&P 500 goes up 400%, then picking 10 stocks from the current top 40 in that index and spreading it out sector-wise might give a result of up 300% or maybe up 500% (or any other number), but gets investors pretty close to having enough for retirement -- provided they have an adequate savings rate. They will not be up 1,000% in an up 400% 20-year period, nor will they be up 50% in an up 400% 20-year period.
4. More specifically, of the 10 it is likely that one company would go bust, at least one would be a huge home run, and the rest would be a little ahead or a little behind the market. But, again, they would provide a reasonable chance of having enough even if the 10 did not beat any index.
The reader question that prompted the previous article said winning with stocks was very difficult, to which I replied that it depends on how you define winning. A reasonable definition of winning is having enough when you need it, and that was what I was trying to explore.
I should again point out this is not a recommendation for a strategy. It is an attempt to demystify the use of individual stocks.