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How to Diversify Your Stock Portfolio: A Simple Guide

by Elena Martin   ·  October 10, 2022   ·  

How to Diversify Your Stock Portfolio: A Simple Guide

by Elena Martin   ·  October 10, 2022   ·  
Investors that diversify their stock portfolios might benefit from it during market volatility. Risk distribution in a portfolio may be greatly aided by having a solid understanding of the fundamental ideas underlying a diversified portfolio and how they can be used. The following stock diversification principles will be covered in this article:

What’s a diversified portfolio?

  • Systematic and unsystematic danger
  • Why is stock diversification important?
  • How to diversify your stock portfolio in 4 ways
  • Diversification mistakes investors make
  • Key points for building a diverse stock portfolio


In its broadest meaning, diversification refers to expanding a product offering. In finance, portfolio diversity is used to lower the risk of exposure to a single asset or event. For stock portfolio diversification, various investments in terms of stock sectors, allocation amount, location, stock investment type, and other assets are included in the portfolio.


It is crucial to diversify a stock portfolio to lower the danger of being overexposed to one sector. By doing this, you can avoid “placing all your eggs in one basket.” Holding specific equities negatively correlated to other owned stocks increases stock diversity. Consequently, the impact of market volatility is reduced, and risk is managed in the stock portfolio. Even while a portfolio may seem to be adequately diversified in terms of unsystematic risk, it is never really diversified.


Investors need to grasp the difference between systematic and unsystematic risk to appreciate diversification’s value correctly.

Systematic danger:

The risk at the heart of a market is known as systematic risk. Due to its inability to be avoided, this kind of risk is sometimes called undiversifiable. Systematic risk has a dynamic character, which makes it challenging for businesses to defend against. Political events, war, and other situations are examples of systemic risk. As a result, this kind of risk is beyond the control of any one organization.

Unsystematic danger:

Unsystematic risk is the risk connected to a particular business or asset. Through diversification strategies, the organization may manage and lessen these kinds of risks. Competitors, business risk (internal operational or external legal variables), and financial risk are examples of unsystematic risk (capital structure).

When diversifying their stock portfolios, investors aim to reduce unsystematic risk. Even if stock diversification is achieved, it is crucial to remember that the portfolio will still be vulnerable to market-wide or systematic risk.


  1. By Stock Sectors

Investors can distribute their risk across many businesses thanks to stock sectors. Being heavily exposed to one industry might be detrimental to investors if that industry’s value declines. As specific sectors might be artificially connected, it is essential to carefully examine each sector to see how it can fit into the portfolio’s overall financial objective.

Risk-seeking investors may add a higher proportion of growth companies to haven stocks. Risk-averse investors may aim to add more haven stocks to provide some downside protection during choppy market circumstances. However, it’s crucial to remember that even “safer” companies might decline in a general market slump.

  1. By Size of Companies

Another well-liked strategy for diversifying a stock portfolio is to include firms with the diverse market capitalization (small, medium, and big). Smaller firms may have exciting growth potential, but large-cap equities are often considered safer investments than small/mid-cap stocks.

  1. Geographical

Stocks exposed to a particular nation or region may be referred to as having a geographical diversity (financial, political, etc.) Investors now have more market access and may buy equities from other regions or nations. This might include buying stock in a firm that does business in several cities or nations on the same stock exchange or getting access to equities on various stock exchanges across the globe. Exchange-traded funds have lately increased accessibility to geographical investment (ETFs).

  1. Stock ETFs

Stock ETFs have grown in appeal among investors over the last several years. ETFs are a collection of equities that may be purchased via a single investment instrument. Investors may diversify more easily and often at a lower cost without buying more stocks. One ETF that mimics the S&P 500 index is the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV). Thus, by purchasing only one IVV share, an investor may expose himself to the whole S&P 500 index.

  1. Asset class

Another strategy to diversify an investment portfolio is to include different asset classes. Bonds are a common choice for investors looking for a safer investment, but investors are now venturing into other financial products, including commodities and foreign exchange. For instance, gold is often seen as a safe-haven commodity, but the Swiss Franc and the Japanese Yen have historically been considered safer than other currencies.


The diversity that occurred during the coronavirus crash is seen here. This illustrates how the coronavirus epidemic has influenced international markets and how stock investors might limit significant losses.

Gilead Sciences vs. Delta Air Lines:

Stock Portfolio
Source: Trading View

The graph up top displays an overlay of two equities, Delta Air Lines and Gilead Sciences, before and after the coronavirus epidemic. The global spread of the coronavirus pandemic led to a sharp decline in airline stock prices. Even if Delta wasn’t the only airline stock to decline, it amplified the negative market response.

Contrarily, a pharmaceutical firm called Gilead Sciences is investigating a coronavirus cure. The two equities above had a generally favorable association before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus a worldwide epidemic. The figure shows that the two equities moved in opposing directions after the news (negative correlation). As a crude illustration, the investment may have been shielded from severe losses if these two equities were the only ones in the portfolio.

It’s crucial to remember that though the two sectors may generally have a positive association, this negative correlation only holds in the one case mentioned above.

The illustration demonstrates how equities from two distinct stock sectors might provide risk-adjusted returns in uncertain circumstances.

Investor Blunders While Diversifying:

1) Over-diversification

Stock traders often overstock their portfolios. Research has shown that excessive stock inclusions do not substantially minimize risk after a specific number of stocks (+/- 30 stocks). ETFs and mutual funds, which often comprise far over 30 companies, are not helped by this asymptote-like curve of risk vs. several stocks (see image below). The issue is then exacerbated by investors’ decisions to hold various mutual funds and ETFs.

Stock Portfolio
Source: Study by Professors E.J Elton and M.J Gruber (NYU Stern)

2) Investing in equities with weak correlations

Even though this was employed in the example above, investors often attempt to include stocks that do not rise and fall together. When managing the whole stock portfolio in this way, it is clear that increases in the portfolio value are offset by the opposite movement of the diversified section of the stock portfolio (see chart below). The following scenario, however extreme, only demonstrates how a negatively linked portfolio might prevent gains in portfolio value.

3) A simplified graph showing the ideal negative (-1) correlation

Stock Portfolio

4) Improper time estimation

In principle, managing a diverse portfolio may seem simple, but the time commitment is daunting for some investors. It often results in poorly managed portfolios.

Markets often tumble together when there is a severe bear market. Even with a “fully diversified” portfolio, there is almost no way to avoid the fall. Using alternative asset classes may prevent further losses in situations like these.


Before engaging in any investment, investors must adequately understand their financial objectives (duration, risk, etc.) and financial limits. Investors may then consider diversity within their portfolio once this is recognized. The following considerations are necessary for adequate diversification:

  • What level of risk are you ready to accept?
  • Avoid using too many stocks.
  • Be aware of the correlations between the stocks.
  • Risk cannot ever be eliminated.
  • Think about diversifying across several asset classes.

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