One stock is enough to boost imaginary portfolio.
BG's back on track with yet another chart-topping hit
And so, before I know it, there I am back with all my eggs in one basket. But what eggs! What a basket!
There are, of course, obvious disadvantages to piling everything you have into a single stock but, if you have the nerve - and the right stock - there are also huge advantages.
For one thing, it makes life a lot easier; kiss goodbye to all that frenetic tracking of multiple stock movements. Open your account, crank up iTunes, kick back with a coffee and simply refresh Safari every couple of minutes. It's not an unpleasant way to pass the time and - coffee aside - much better for the old blood pressure.
It can also make more financial sense - provided, again, that you have the right stock. Sensibly spreading your funds over a number of stocks is, in a sense, a self-defeating exercise for the short-term trader. Some shares will go up, but almost inevitably others will come down, neutralising the gains.
You will never, ever, open your account and shout "whoo-hoo!". But "whoo-hoo!" was precisely what I found myself shouting this week.
I was, I must confess, forced into my brilliant stroke by a combination of circumstance and indolence. I ended last week with three holdings but, after a flurry of automated stop-loss and sell-limit actions, found myself with only BG and almost half my worth in cash.
I started to cast around for places to stash the newly liberated £8,139.38 (Dh48,113.13), although, I must admit, without much enthusiasm. It would have come down to hard work or dumb luck - plucking out of the hat rabbits that could easily turn out to be turkeys.
Then I remembered something I had read about charts. The gist of it was that valid investment decisions could be made by focusing solely on the patterns etched on the price chart by the progress of a company's share value over the previous weeks, months and years, regardless of its business or who was in charge.
And BG's chart was revealing. So much so, in fact, that I decided to put everything I had into this one stock - and wished I had bothered to check out the charts earlier.
I had first bought BG shares on October 26, when the price was 1,197.5 pence. I have made subsequent additional purchases, at 1,246.5p, 1,249p and 1,272.5p, and now I have committed my remaining cash at 1,278.5p - the highest price in a six-month period that saw a low in June of 984p.
Dumb, you might think.
But before I bought, I zoomed out the price chart from six months to a year. A straight line drawn from BG's price in November 2009 to now revealed a steady angle of growth, not far shy of 40 degrees. Over the year to date, this has translated to an increase in share price from about 1,075p to 1,278.5p - a tremendous growth of about 20 per cent in one year.
But back in November 2009, who was to know? Well, anyone who took the trouble to glance at the charts, that's who.
Between December last year and the first week of January this year, BG's price soared, close to 1,240p, but then fell away again, just as dramatically. For three months, the chart of pronounced peaks and troughs did a good impression of a mountain range; at any point a punter could have pitched in low and bailed out high with a modest profit within a week or so - or vice versa.
Now, I have taken what might appear to be a big gamble by investing the lot at the high point in BG's year to date. Indeed, looking at the movements of the past 12 months, it would seem prudent to gamble on an imminent, albeit short term, tailing off in price, rather than a continuation of the overall upward trend.
But that's where perspective comes in.
Zoom out to two years, for example, and it is still possible to draw that rising diagonal line, this time from a low of 764.50p at the end of 2008 to today's 1,278.50p. Again, within that time frame, it is tempting to read a regularity in the undulations in the price, which suggests strongly that BG is bound to take a tumble soon - either to rally again in a few weeks, or as the first move in a downward trend that, on past evidence, could last for several months.
The five-year chart, however, tells a different story. For a start, that all-important upward trajectory is still there: a diagonal from a low of 520p back at the end of 2005, sweeping up majestically to 1,278.5p, but it is possible to see the more recent ups and downs in context, and as insignificant.
True, slap in the middle of that five-year line there is an accelerated growth in the share price - from about the third quarter of 2007 to the end of the second quarter of 2008 - followed by an even more dramatic collapse (though never to as low as the starting price), which lasts for about six months. But that, clearly, was the global economic crisis having its say - it was, in other words, nothing to do with this company and its underlying worth, which is assayed by the steady return to form that has followed.
Is it worth looking back even further? Certainly, the 10-year picture is an encouraging one, revealing that, bar the 2008 glitch, BG has been nothing but a money-maker. Indeed, this chart seems to scream that it won't be long before the price climbs back up to its all-time high of almost 1,400p.
And guess what? It's well on its way. Shortly after my investment this week, the price has jumped even further, to 1,316.5p - a gain of more than £700 in a single week, boosting the value of my portfolio to its highest point yet and teasingly close to breaking the £2,000 profit barrier. Whoo-hoo indeed!
What does BG do? Well, since you ask, it's the gas and oil exploration arm of the old British Gas, but frankly, who cares? That's the beauty of studying charts, and charts alone. It doesn't matter what game a company is in - the stark clarity of the line across the weeks, months and years, rather like the contrail of an aircraft high in the sky, tells you where it's been and gives you a pretty good idea of where it's going, regardless of crew or cargo.