June 5, 2013 Comments

Okay, so stocks were down two days in a row.

S&P 500 down 1.4%, Toronto down 1.2%. With the U.S. markets up so much this year the notion of a decline two days in a row seems foreign. But really it is nothing more than a small dose of reality. Stocks do not go up in straight lines and sometimes they go down. Sometimes a lot.

At this point people who have no idea what their stocks are really worth and who think of stocks as nothing but squiggles on a screen start to panic. As far as they know a stock is worth what someone will pay for it in the next two minutes and it has no intrinsic value. Wiser investors however know that stocks are shares in companies. And if they have chosen their companies with care and if they are confident that those companies are likely to continue to make growing amounts of money not every quarter or year but most quarters and years then these investors are much less likely to panic.

Personally I am not only not panicked I am barely bothered at all by this level of market decline. Sure it’s always nicer to see stocks rise. But I do have cash on hand to take advantage of dips. And I do have some sense that the stocks I own have fundamental value and are likely (but not guaranteed) to rise in price in the long term. Buying shares on dips is part of the reason I have made an average of 16% per year over the past ten years. Often I have bought too early on the way down. But I have tended to keep buying as my favorite stocks declined. And this has paid off in most (but not all) cases. And I have tended to trim positions that seemed to be fully valued or over valued. And I have tried to move money into stocks that seemed the best bargain I could find while also staying mostly with large stable companies. And I have sometimes increased my cash allocation when stock markets rose. (Like I did last week).

That has been a recipe for success for me. So no, I will not be panicking even if markets continue to fall. And I am not suggesting they will continue to fall. They might or might not.

But not everyone can take the heat and volatility of being in stocks. If you can’t take the heat then by all means sell some or all of your stocks. I don’t advise on individual asset allocation levels or risk capacity or risk tolerances. Our Stocks are mostly up a lot this year and if you sell some now you still most likely have good gains on them. There is nothing wrong with moving at least some cash to the sidelines if that is what you wish to do.


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