The millennial investor raking in a 250% return

With stocks at highs, are you invested?
With stocks at highs, are you invested?

Justin Brosseau's friends called him an idiot in high school.

They wanted to spend their money at the movies, but Justin passed on seeing "The Hangover" and started investing instead.

At age 16, he put almost all of his life savings, $650, into three stocks: Citi (C), GE (GE) and United Airlines (UAL). That was back in 2009. No one calls him an idiot now.

Justin made a nearly 250% return on his initial stock investments before he graduated from Miami University last spring. To put that another way, while his friends were spending money, he was making about $1,600.

That might be far from Warren Buffett's fortune, but it adds up.

justin brosseau

"I enjoy taking risks," Justin, now 23, says. "I'll never stop investing. There's always a way to win. I just want to be that person to figure it out."

Justin's early success led him to invest more. Today his portfolio is worth $12,300 -- 19 times more than what he started with as a teenager.

Monday marks the six-year anniversary of the day the market hit its lowest point during the recession. Real people like Justin, not just the super rich, have profited from the stock market's rise.

You tell us: What would you do with $1,000 to invest?

Game-changing class: Justin's story starts far from Wall Street in a classroom in Naperville, Illinois. He took an investing class his sophomore year at Nequa Valley High School, a public school 40 miles west of Chicago. Brian Giovanini, his teacher, assigned students to create their own mock portfolio of stocks.

"His constant learning is unmatched by a lot of students I've had in class," Giovanini says. "I've no doubts that he's successful."

Justin picked United Airlines for his class project. He studied the company's finances and felt comfortable with the company since he understood what it did.

Related: The 2015 bargain: emerging market stocks

Summer of ... 2009: Justin turned his homework into a real investment after convincing his dad to cosign a Scottrade account with him. Justin bought United for $4 a share in 2009, and sold in 2014 for $41, or 10 times higher.

His strategy is simple: invest in companies for the long-term and do your homework. He wakes up most mornings at 5 a.m. to check out earnings reports, company news and the markets before they open.

Related: Apple stock is making regular Americans rich

"Relying on luck for anything is a bad habit," Justin says.

Justin looks at the typical yardsticks like sales, profits and earnings per share, but he pays special attention to companies' capital spending. It's considered a good measure of a company's confidence about the future.

Today he owns a diverse group of stocks, including Apple (AAPL, Tech30), Delta (DAL) and Pepsi (PEP), and he's started a 401(k) through his workplace.

A bourbon collector and football fanatic, Justin now lives in Cincinnati where he works as a consultant to manufacturing companies. In his spare time, he watches Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" on CNBC. He's even reading Cramer's book, "Confessions of a Street Addict."

His latest stock pick: When Best Buy's stock fell 14% in January to $34, Justin bought shares. Best Buy (BBY) has already rebounded to $39.

"Three weeks ago, their stock tanked. First thing I did was get in," Justin says.

Best Buy's turnaround is for real
Best Buy's turnaround is for real

Related: 4 reasons small stocks could be studs this year

Editor's Note: Justin opened his Scottrade account at age 15. He purchased his stocks a few months later when he was age 16. An earlier version of this story said he invested at 15.

Social Surge - What's Trending

Mortgage & Savings


Newsletter

CNNMoney Sponsors