Growth Stocks – When Should You Bank Your Profits?

Growth stocks can mean different things to different people, but I personally define a growth stock as being shares in a company that continues to increase both it’s earnings and dividends each year (and has a long history of doing so). So with that in mind, I want to talk about when you should sell these stocks, because this is very important. 

If you’re lucky enough to have found some good quality growth stocks and are sitting on some decent profits, then it can be tempting to bank your profits and reinvest the proceeds elsewhere. However, as Warren Buffett will tell you, this isn’t necessarily the best strategy. 

The best strategy, provided that you’re prepared to hold on to your shares for the long term, is to resist the temptation to sell and hold on for further gains. Yes there may be short-term fluctuations along the way, but providing that the company in question continues to increase both it’s earnings and dividends each year, there is no need to sell because the share price will eventually rise to reflect this continued growth. 

If you hold on to shares for as long as a company continues to grow and reinvest the dividends received each year, then you can be sure that you will be sitting on some substantial gains when you do finally decide to sell. This is something that Warren Buffett does to devastating effect. He simply looks for outstanding market-leading companies that continue to grow their profits each year, and holds on to these shares for years and years to benefit from both capital growth and dividends. 

It requires a great deal of patience because in the short-term the share price can fall in line with the overall market, but in the long-term it rewards you with some fantastic profits. The difficulty is finding the right companies to invest in, but there are some obvious candidates amongst some of the large-cap stocks. For example here in the UK Tesco is a fantastic company because it has a long history of growing both it’s earnings and dividends. Indeed I believe Buffett himself owns shares in Tesco at the time of writing. 

So to answer the original question of when should you sell your shares in growth stocks, you should hold on to your shares for as long as possible to benefit from both capital growth and dividend reinvestment. The only time you should consider selling is when there is a danger that the company may stop increasing it’s bottom line each year, maybe due to another major competitor gaining market share, for instance, because that will obviously mean that the share price is unlikely to continue rising in future years.

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