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Bears, Bulls & Babes — Beguiled by Blue Chips
What Makes Our Club Click
The Bears, Bulls & Babes Investment Club of Bethel Park, Pa. (near Pittsburgh) began not long after Dianne LeDonne invited a friend and neighbor Joanne Hathaway to a Merrill Lynch seminar during which they heard about clubs. After attending a meeting of a local club to learn more, they set out to find the most fabulous ladies to join them in forming a club of their own.
The club launched in May 2002 with 15 members. Sadly, one of the original members was killed not long after in a tractor accident. Member Mary LeDonne suggested our club’s name during a brainstorming session at our first board of directors meeting. We’ve had as many as 20 members but are currently at 18, mostly charter members.
The Bears, Bulls & Babes’ investment philosophy is to stay diversified, make money and try not to buy high, then panic and sell low. Before each meeting, we pick a sector to study and then compare three stocks in that sector at the meeting. We don’t always select the best of the three, though; we added Priceline.com to our watch list, a choice we lived to regret as we watched it grow and grow without ever buying it!
Our portfolio holds 20 stocks worth about $90,000. Our first purchase was Pfizer, and our all-time favorite is McDonald’s. But one of our members is extremely partial to John Deere, since she grew up in Moline, Ill.
Our advice to other clubs is to have fun and learn a bit along the way. Find partners who are diverse yet compatible. Keep meetings drama-free and meet at a neutral place instead of a member’s home. This provides a definite starting and ending time for business, and no one has to fuss over snacks and housekeeping.
Don’t get upset when the club loses money. We’ve made mistakes and have found it’s hard to keep to a certain pattern of buying and selling. We set “rules”— such as to sell when a stock increases or drops a certain percentage — and then immediately break them.
From the very beginning, we’ve practiced respect, to let everyone speak and have their say. Don’t take it personally if other partners don’t like the stock you think the club should buy.
We hold our meetings once a month in the private meeting room of a local Panera Bread so that those who’d like to eat can do so. It’s a good thing it doesn’t serve wine because we learned at our first annual dinner meeting that drinking and then voting to buy a stock is not a good idea! We hold two dinner meetings a year: our Christmas dinner meeting at a nice restaurant and our annual dinner/meeting in May, when we meet at a country club and elect our new board of directors.
The ladies in our club have a variety of experiences, jobs, ages and backgrounds. Although we may disagree on a stock or an issue, we never argue. And even though our club is now 10 years old, we’re still learning.
Angele McQuade is the author of two books, including Investment Clubs for Dummies. You can find her online at angelemcquade.com.