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IS IT TIME TO MOVE CASH INTO EQUITIES?

Rajesh Jyotishi Email Rajesh Jyotishi
April 2010
IS IT TIME TO MOVE CASH INTO EQUITIES?

Remember when people were getting out of stocks? In the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, some people made the decision to move money into forms of investment with low or no stock market correlation. The recession was going full blast; the Dow was falling. But recessions are temporary, and markets improve.

The recent recovery wowed even the most jaded market analysts. From the March 9, 2009 market lows to the end of the year, the S&P 500 shot up 64.83%, the DJIA gained 59.28%, the NASDAQ 78.87% and the Russell 2000 82.19%. The CBOE VIX, the so-called fear index, dropped 56.14% in that stretch.

Was March 9, 2009 the point of capitulation? Have you heard of that term? It references a point of “surrender” or maximum exodus from stocks to CDs and Treasuries in a bear market. The theory goes that when that point of capitulation is reached, a measured, rational market recovery will begin leading to either a cyclical bull market or (fingers crossed) a new long-term bull market.

The rebound off the March 9 lows wasn’t measured, it was phenomenal. On August 6, 2009, the head of Goldman Sachs’ investment policy committee declared that “the new bull market has begun.” On CNBC, Abby Joseph Cohen shared her belief that the S&P 500 would finish 2009 in the 1,050-1,100 range, up from a March 9 trough of 666.79. It exceeded her expectations, ending the year at 1,115.10.

Will stocks keep advancing in 2010? There’s an old phrase people like to cite: past performance is no indication of future success. That disclaimer aside, many analysts think that the stock market will realize at least moderate gains in 2010. The mood is certainly more optimistic and the economy seems to be improving.

Will investors be patient? Good question. In late 2008, you had people swearing off stocks. In 2009, some of those same people changed their mind and ran back to stocks. If 2010 brings a correction, will these investors ditch stocks again? History suggests that these short-term shifts may be damaging.

DALBAR, that goldmine of investment research, looked at the behavior of the average mutual fund investor over a 20-year period ending December 31, 2007. The 20-year survey found that while the broad stock market (S&P 500) returned an average of 11.82% over those 20 years, the average mutual fund investor bailed out at times, missed out on great market days, and only realized an average return of 4.48%. This is a really compelling argument for patience and sustained investment. In late 2008, both Warren Buffett and John Bogle made the case that investors should stay in the market, as some major values were available as a result of the downturn.

How are you invested these days? We’ve seen a lot of change in the last three years, and many people have really changed up their portfolios. How about yours? Is your asset allocation still appropriate for your long-term objectives? You might want to talk to a qualified financial advisor today to review where you are and how you might position yourself for the years ahead.


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