At the ripe old age of 14, Timothy Olsen has to think back six years to remember his first stock pick. The 8-year-old investor went with a product he liked and decided to invest in Pepsico. That initial $150 investment grew to $70,000 and ignited a passion in Olsen. He now spends seven to eight hours a day managing his portfolio. “CNBC is on all day. From when I get up at 7 a.m. till about 5 p.m.” Is he obsessed? “Yes, very.” The ninth-grader from Cranford, New Jersey, who wants to be a hedge fund manager, channels that focus to help other young investors find the road to riches in The Teenage Investor. This thoughtful primer for stock novices of any age stresses the importance of doing your research and staying away from hype. “There will always be tough times and you have to stick it out,” Olsen says. “If you keep adding money, it will grow over time.” Originally Olsen “didn’t have any intention of writing to teenagers,” but a smart editor changed his mind. Once convinced, the writing “came easy to me,” says Olsen. He pounded out the entire book during the summer before eighth grade.
Olsen’s biggest thrills come from finding great companies selling at bargain prices, and the excitement bubbles up as he recalls Crown Cork ∧ Seal, his “best investment of all time.” He bought at $1.25 and sold at $11.
So what do his parents think of their teen whiz kid? “They’re very encouraging,” he says. Mom’s investment group loves the free stock tips, but Olsen’s not quite ready to take on paying clients. “I’m in school all day, so there’s no time. Plus if I lost their money, that would be bad.” But not even school can keep a determined investor down. “Right away when I get home I turn on CNBC. It’s strange for a kid my age, but it’s something I enjoy doing.”