A few weeks ago, Aaron had asked me why I buy individual stocks rather than invest in index funds. He makes a good point. Index funds beat 80% of the market. When you factor in their very low cost, it would seem silly to invest your money any other way.
And I generally agree with the principle that for most people, the right thing to do is to invest your money in index funds. However, I'm not most people. I love thinking about what trade to make. I love doing the research before I buy a stock.
Some liken stock picking to gambling. I really don't think anything could be further from the truth. True, short term stock picking can be very hard. There are random fluctuations that happen for no other reason than the sentiment "feels" something is going to happen. That can be quite scary.
However, a stocks long term price is 100% correlated with its earnings, and with enough homework, you can figure out which stocks have the best earnings potential. You won't be right 100% of the time, nobody ever is, but you can certainly pick more winners than losers.
I take the Warren Buffet advice on investing. Put all your eggs in a basket, and watch the basket closely. My portfolio at this time is relatively small, and I watch it closely. That being said, I'm getting hammered along with the rest of the market. So who knows, maybe I'm totally wrong about picking individual stocks, but I'm having fun doing it.
Update: It occurs to me that my point wasn't totally clear here. I actually think that index funds are good things. Most of us are dummies when it comes to the market. Most people don't need to be experts. If you aren't, then you should invest in index fund.