Investment Guide to Proper Portfolio Allocation

New and experienced investors alike should have a set strategy for portfolio allocation as far as the number of total holdings. The key to determining how many stocks should be held at once lies in knowing how much money is in the portfolio. This guide will breakdown the best rules for portfolio allocation.

Here on StockTradingToGo we support a more focused portfolio versus having a list of different holdings. Even for investors that want to remain diversified there are great ways to do so through ETFs so that the overall number of holdings can remain minimal. A simplified portfolio also supports investment success through discipline.

Portfolio Holdings Breakdown

Based on the total portfolio size total number holdings should follow this general diagram:

  • Less than $4,000 = 1 stock / position
  • $4,000 – $10,000 = 1 – 3 stocks / positions
  • $10,000 – $20,000 = 1 – 5 stocks / positions
  • $20,000 – $500,000 = up to 6 or 7 stocks / positions
  • Great than $500,000 = 10 – 15 stocks / positions depending

This model follows the philosophy of William O’Neil and CANSLIM investing. CANSLIM investing is the most widely known investment strategy and there are great investment books that breakdown its key concepts.

Promoting Successful Investing

Investors that maintain a focused number of portfolio holdings are promoting successful investing in several important ways.

1. Concentrated Returns
Returns that are focused in several positions versus many positions are higher overall. To explain this concept here is a basic comparison:

Focused Returns: Investor holds 1 stock that goes up 10%, total return in the portfolio is 10%.
Non-Focused Returns: Investor holds 4 stocks and one goes up 10%, total return in the portfolio is 2.5% (.25 x .1).

This is a very simplified example but nonetheless reveals important results. And for those investors who argue the downside is just as substantial please read our guide for stop loss orders.

2. Lower Trade Commissions
Unless engaged in free stock trading it is smart to keep commissions to a bare minimum. Even with discount brokers trading smart versus often can save investment capital. In a $1,000 portfolio for example ten trades at $9.99 would equate to $100 or 10% of the entire portfolio!

3. Promoting Disciplined Investing
The goal for any investor should always be to buy the best possible stocks to own versus playing the “hit or miss” game. Successful investors will take a list of several hundred stocks and narrow them to a handful before making a final choice. This practice ensures that the highest probability of wining is realized at all times.

Diversified Investing Through ETFs

Through the use of exchange traded funds investors can still have a focused portfolio and remain well diversified. Diversification does not have to be ignored with a focused portfolio.

ETFs allow an investor to purchase an investment vehicle for replicating the performance of a whole sector or index without having to physically purchase a basket of individual stocks. Here on the site we have broken down a majority of the ETFs currently available in the stock market:

ETFs also have low management fees. In fact, the average management fee for an ETF is under 1% per year. Compare this to the extensive costs of mutual fund fees (further education: mutual fund loads) and ETFs become a fantastic alternative.

This opens the door to endless possibilities for diversified investors.

Further Reading


Join 17,000 Investors

Receive Daily Market Recaps directly in your email inbox!

Log, Store, and Analyze Your Trades

Whether you're a new or seasoned investor, the StockTradingToGo Trade Log helps you trade better:
  • Step 1 - Add trades
  • Step 2 - Mark strategies and mistakes
  • Step 3 - Analyze your results
  • Step 4 - Improve your trading
Get Started Now