Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Stock Market

Today, the stock market is down big, China was down 9%, and the US markets are down 1 to 2%. The US market has fallen the last five days and much of the years gains have been erased. The reason for the drop varies from oil increases to international turmoil to slowing growth in the US and China. Are these reasons for concern, sure they are, are they reasons to panic, absolutly not. One thing I have learned after years of watching the market and studying the market is to value the pullbacks, they are opportunities. I look at today as buying stock at a discount. After a five day pullback and about a 2 to 3% decline, I made a purchase in my small cap retirement fund as well I bought some stocks for my personal account that I had watching for some time and waiting for a pullback. my general rule is if the market falls a couple percent, it is a good time to make a purchase in my retirement accounts. My theory and hope is over the next 30 years, I can hopefully dollar cost average and beat the markets yearly returns by 2 to 3%. Two or three percent over 30 years is huge. A 1,000 invesment with an annual return of 8% would be worth approximatly $9,000.00 in 30 years. A 1,000.00 investment at a return of 11% a year would be worth over $20,000.00 in 30 years. So you can see just how valuable a small percentage is over time. Stocks like Caterpillar (CAT) and Noble (NE) are trading at a considerable discount and offer investors an excitign opportunity. Will they raise 50% tomorrow, no, but over time you have an opportunity for an outstanding return. Create a watch list and evaluate things like PEG ratio (Anything under 1 is typically worth further study and may be an opportunity, PE(A very general rule is a PE under 15), Return on Equity (Over 15% is a standard) are all good indicators. The biggest thing is to be an investor not a trader, I typically like to hold stocks atleast a year and ideally five or more. My rule of thumb when I buy a stock is, can I make 20% in a year or 100% in five years on this investment, if I can, it is a solid investment in my mind. If you have a small amount of money, anything less than a $100,000.00, I don't recommend individual stocks, invest in quality mutual funds that track the major indexes and have expenses less than .5%. Odds are you will beat the heavily expensed mutual funds as well as your own stocks that you would pick on your own. These investments will most likely return 8 to 12% over time which is very good. My last advice is the sooner you start saving and investing the better, even small amounts in your teens and early 20's can grow to huge sums of money in your 50's and 60's. If you saved just a $1,000.00 at age 15, put it in a decent market tracking fund and it returned 8% which is very realistic, you would likely have in excess of $40,000.00 at 65. Market pullbacks should not be viewed as a problem but an opportunity.

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