Every correction is different, the result of various economic and/or political circumstances that create the need for adjustments in the financial markets.
While everything is down in price, as it is now, there is actually less to worry about. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.
In this case, an overheated real estate market, an overdose of financial bad judgment, and a damn the torpedoes stock market, propelled by demand for speculative derivative securities and Hedge Funds, finally came unglued.
But it is the reality of corrections that is one of the few certainties of the financial world, one that separates the men from the boys, if you will. If you fixate on your portfolio market value during a correction, you will just give yourself a headache, or worse.
Few of the fundamental qualities that made your IGVSI securities sound investments just two years ago have permanently disappeared. We'll be using credit cards, driving cars and motorcycles, drinking beer, and buying clothes twenty years from now. Very few interest payments have been missed and surprisingly few dividends eliminated.
Only the prices have changed, to preserve the long-term reality of things---and in both of our markets.
Corrections are beautiful things, but having two of them going on at the same time is like a trip to Fantasy Land. Theoretically, even technically I'm told, corrections adjust prices to their actual value or "support levels". In reality, it's much easier than that. Prices go down because of speculator reactions to expectations of news, speculator reactions to actual news, and investor profit taking.
The two "becauses" are more potent than ever because there is more self-directed money than ever. And therein lies the core of correctional beauty. Mutual Fund unit holders rarely take profits but rush to take losses. Additionally, the new breed of unregulated index-fund speculations is capable of producing a constant diet of volatility overload. New investment opportunities are everywhere.
Here's a list of ten things to think about or to do during corrections:
1. Don't beat yourself up by looking at your market value. You don't live in a vacuum and you should expect lower valuations. That is why you should only buy the highest quality securities in the first place and stick with a well-defined asset allocation plan. Look for ways to add to your portfolios.
2. Take a look at the past. There has never been a correction that has not proven to be a buying opportunity, in spite of the media hype that this one is somehow special. When they are broad, long, and deep, the rally that follows is normally broad, long, and steep. Get ready to party.
3. The "Smart Cash" produced by interest and dividends should be placed in new stocks for rapid profitable turnover--- don't be shy when you're looking at 50% discounts from recent highs. Buying too soon, in the right portfolio percentage, is nearly as important to long-term investment success as selling too soon is during rallies.
4. Take a look at the future. Nope, you can't tell when the rally will come or how long it will last. If you are buying quality securities now, as you certainly should be, you will be able to love the rally even more than you did the last time--- as you take yet another round of profits.
5. Buy more quickly in a prolonged correction, but establish new positions incompletely so that you can add to them safely later. There's more to "Shop at the Gap" than meets the eye, and you should remain confidently fully-invested at least until the media starts whispering: "rally".
6. Cash flow is king. Take smaller profits sooner than usual as long as there are abundant buying opportunities. Today, nearly sixty percent of all Investment Grade Value Stocks are down more than 25% from their 52-week highs. As long your cash flow continues unabated, change in market value is just a perceptual issue.
7. Note that your Working Capital is growing, in spite of fallen market prices, and examine your holdings for opportunities to average down and increase your yield on fixed income securities. Examine both fundamentals and price, lean hard on your experience, and don't force the issue.
8. Identify new buying opportunities using a consistent set of rules, be it rally or correction. That way you will always know which of the two you are dealing with in spite of the Wall Street propaganda. Focus on Investment Grade Value Stocks; it's easier, less risky, and better for your peace of mind.
9. Examine your portfolio's performance in terms of market, interest rate, and economic cycles as opposed to calendar time intervals. Apply your asset allocation to your analysis for meaningful-to-you results.
10. So long as everything is down, there is little to worry about long term. Downgraded, or simply lazy, portfolio holdings should not be discarded during general or group specific weakness--- unless you don't have the courage to get rid of them during rallies.
Corrections of all types will vary in depth and duration, and both characteristics are clearly visible only in institutional-grade rear view mirrors. The short and deep ones are most lovable; the long and slow ones are more difficult to deal with.
Most corrections are relatively short and difficult to take advantage of with mutual funds. So if you over-think the environment or over-cook the research, you'll miss the after-party. Unlike many things in life, Stock Market realities need to be dealt with quickly, decisively, and with zero hindsight.
Amid all of the uncertainty, there is one indisputable fact that reads equally well in either market direction: there has never been a correction-rally that has not succumbed to the next rally-correction.
Professional Portfolio Management since 1979
Author of The Brainwashing of the American Investor and A Millionaire's Secret Investment Strategy
About the author:----------------------------
Professional Portfolio Management since 1979
Author of: "The Brainwashing of the American Investor: The Book that Wall Street Does Not Want YOU to Read", and "A Millionaire's Secret Investment Strategy"