No. of Recommendations: 31
If it aint broke, don't fix it.

I couldn't disagree with this sentiment more. The logical conclusion is to wait until it's broke(n), then fix it. Except in this case, if it's broke, so are you, and there's no fixing it.

As others have pointed out, XOM is a great and powerful company. So was BP, which suffered a catastrophic blow-out on just one well out of the 760 that BP has leases for in the Gulf. (37 are deep water.) If you were depending on the income stream from BP, you'd be in trouble - at least for a while and perhaps permanently.

My father has a portfolio worth about $1 million. 60% of it is in just two stocks: Aflac and Verizon. He worked for a private company which was bought by Amax metals, which was bought by General Telephone, which was bought by Bell Atlantic, which became Verizon (I may be off on the sequence somewhat), and he ended up with a boatload of shares which he has never sold. With Aflac it was the other story: he bought some and it did well, so he bought some more, and ... repeat about 10 times, and he has two very large holdings and a smattering of small fry.

Now he's been lucky and neither one has tanked. Both offer a handsome dividend stream. If one of them does go upside down, even temporarily he would be hurting, and we've talked about this (in some detail) but he's happy and I'm certainly not going to push him to do something he doesn't want to do.

Big, stable, trusted companies go in the crapper all the time. I have my portfolio arranged with about 20 stocks, mostly all dividend payers, one of which was General Electric. A fine, historied, respected company with a long track record of increasing earnings and dividends until, one day in 2008, it went off the rails. The stock cratered, but worse, the dividend was slashed. Lucky for me it was only about 3% of our holdings, and it didn't really hurt (except psychologically, since I thought I "knew" about the company, having worked for arch-competitor Westinghouse for 17 years.)

It's easy to ride a winner; I did it with AOL and Cisco in the 90's and made a bundle. I also got lucky and sold a bit before the tech crash. I paid taxes in six figures a couple of times, and it was the best money I spent, given that the alternative was to ride both of those down into the mud. I have a friend who also had handsome gains, and rode them right down into the ditch because he couldn't conceive that they wouldn't "bounce back". Meanwhile his bank account doesn't look so hot anymore, because he never put his winnings in, all his profits were on paper.

If you are going through a high commission broker, why? I was, and the guy at Dean Witter took two-grand off the top for the privilege of selling my Cisco shares. I had a larger profit on AOL, which I routed through Schwab, and paid a tiny fraction. If you need the broker's advice, well fine, (although I'd argue that he's profiting off your naivete and capital) then stick with it.

Otherwise, I'd do some serious soul searching about what would happen if Exxon crashed another tanker, or had a blowout somewhere, or if some of their foreign holdings were suddenly nationalized by some government without recourse - all of which are realistic, if less than likely scenarios.

Don't wait til it's broke. Fix it while you can fix it.
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