These are the most prudent stocks to invest in. They represent large, dependable, financially sound companies involved in fields that are unlikely to become obsolete any time soon. They are market leaders in their categories and generally rank in the top three companies in their sector. Good quality investments such as blue chips often tend to do better over the long run than stocks of lower quality and they help you sleep better at night.
They almost always pay a dividend. Their performance is particularly stable in times of uncertainty. And blue chip stocks are rarely troubled by lack of demand that holders of low quality stocks often find when they go to sell but find no buyers. This does not mean that you can buy them and forget them. Sometimes, even the best companies cannot survive severe stress. Canadians will remember Dome Petroleum, Moore Corp. and Nortel among others.
And sometimes a blue chip company may no longer be a blue chip stock if its shares get overvalued. Many high-tech giants reached share price levels during the dot.com boom that they have never regained since the tech bubble burst. As Warren Buffet says: “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price. I would rather be certain of a good result than hopeful of a great one.”
The term ‘blue chip’ is thought to have been coined by Dow Jones employees in the 1920s and derives from poker. Sets of poker chips usually consisted of white, red and blue chips. Traditionally, the blue chips represented the highest value.