COLUMN: Investing in local stocks

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Lots of us hoping for brighter futures sock away money in money-market funds, savings and individual retirement accounts and mutual funds. Most of us have financial advisers who help us along the way and over time, most of the time, we’re rewarded with good returns and growing nest eggs.

I’m in that group. My employer – I should say employers considering I have a couple of part-time jobs in addition to self-employed farming – sponsor 401K or 403B accounts and match a portion of what I contribute.

While I’m most concerned about those funds’ performance over time, I occasionally dig into the annual reports and see what stocks and mutual funds they are buying. I sometimes wish they would do better but I trust in American businesses and the long-term growth of stock markets.

Like a good number of investors, I buy individual stocks from time to time outside of my retirement accounts. I don’t put a lot of money into these stocks and I never invest money into them that I need to pay the farm mortgage or other bills.

I subscribe to the investing adage that individual stocks are long-term assets.

Let me offer a bit of a disclosure by confessing that I’m an amateur investor and this column is not a recommendation to purchase any stock, mutual fund or bond. No one should invest money without doing his or her financial homework and trusting in people who will understand our financial goals.

That said, I will admit to a habit of buying shares of stocks in companies that do business locally or have local investments.

I’m happy to say that over time, these stocks have performed well with inevitable ups and downs with the rest of the economy.

Holding stocks in local companies gives me a sense of feeling invested and vested in the community. It’s doubtful I will work for any local bank but by buying a few of their shares, I can hold a bit of ownership and lend a tiny but meaningful measure of support to their efforts. I guess I see it as an endorsement of the local economy.

So what local stocks are available? More than meets the eye.

The local banks are all publically traded. That means you can purchase a small bit of ownership in Old National, Fifth Third and German American. Bank stocks took a beating in the financial crisis a few years ago but have mostly rebounded.

Those who would have purchased Fifth Third shares in the worst weeks of the downturn and held on to them would have seen a many-fold return.

American Colloid in Troy is owned by a publicly traded company, as are Century Aluminum, AK Steel, Kimball, American Electric Power and others.

If you’re into directly invest in the stock market, don’t forget local companies that invest their resources in our community.