Taking Stock In America

Stockholders often tout the wisdom of diversified portfolios, but even Wall Street was unprepared for the spectacular returns on Remington Rand’s odd-lot order of 1957.

Remington long had regarded itself as an all-American company. In 1957, company executives wished to attract peoples’ attention in an appropriately patriotic way. They bought one share of ever stock listed on the New York Exchange and announced a “Win a Share of America” sweepstakes.

The grand prize, worth over $42,000 ($382,311 in today’s dollars) was a weighty portfolio of 1,098 stocks. This prize was to be doubled if the winning entry contained proof of purchase of a Remington electric shaver.

As the company had speculated, “Share of America” made a killing. Soon Remington, unable to keep up with its distributors’ demands, had forced the competition to the short side of the electric shaver market.

Remington’s patriotic plan not only turned the electric shaver market from bearish to bullish, but also made Remington a red, white, and blue chip company.