Many investors have one or two "safe" stocks they own that, for whatever reason, have become sentimental favorites they never consider selling.
These companies typically are household names, large, and considered by almost everyone - even fund managers - to be safe investments.
That means even if you're not holding such stocks in your personal portfolio, you may own mutual funds that own them, or they could lurk somewhere in your 401(k).
Many "safe" stocks are really hidden time bombs, ready to blow a big hole in your portfolio at any moment.
And as Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald points out, even the most stable, veteran companies can morph into portfolio-destroying dogs.
"Just because you think a stock is safe doesn't mean that the markets will treat it that way," Fitz-Gerald said.
What's more, he said, is that "the very definition of safe has changed," noting how the massive leverage common on Wall Street can unravel a company almost overnight, as happened with Lehman Brothers at the height of the 2008 financial crisis.