Picking an individual stock can yield excellent gains if the stock increases in value. However, any individual stock has a relatively high chance of losing value over the long term. It is very difficult to try and predict which stocks will increase in value in the future.
Picking one stock is like backing one horse to win a race. You may win big if you get it right, but your chances of winning something could increase by backing several horses or going ‘each way’ – where you cover more ground. For this reason, many investors prefer to diversify their portfolio or trade on a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund to spread their bets. You could also trade on baskets of stocks (such as our share baskets) through derivative products such as spread bets and CFDs, which helps to offset the risk of one poor performer.