The Best thing about the First Company to Issue Stock

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

It is not just the name that is interesting but the time horizon for which one was expected to hold the stock.

In 1602, the United Dutch Chartered East India Company (Dutch East India Company, for short) became the first company to issue stock. When the shares were issued, there was no stock market and thus they were extremely illiquid. The purchasers were expected to hold on to the shares for 21 years. Can you believe this, 21 years? How I wish it were true even today. People buying stocks would have benefited tremendously by being forced to leave compounding alone. Some people can leave compounding alone whereas some need to be tied just like Ulysses was tied to the mast to survive the song of the Sirens. (Sign the Ulysseasan Contract before you invest)

However, some investors wanted to sell their shares and thus an informal market for the stock was formed in the Amsterdam East India House. As more companies started issuing shares, this informal setup grew and was later formalized as the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.

When you invest to become an owner of companies, it pays big to think like one and stay invested like one. Warren Buffett wrote “Our holding period is forever”. Even if yours is not forever, ownership will serve you well over real long periods of time. Make the best thing about the first company an integral part of your investment policy.