Saturday, 26 October 2013

Four steps to prepare for a crash

But for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that Time’s cover is wildly bullish and did send a legitimate bear signal to the world. Or maybe tapering will sink stocks.

What would be the proper course of action for investors in a bear market?

1. Understand your time horizon

If you invested 10 years ago for an event this year, you might seriously consider selling your stocks and converting them to cash — but that’s regardless of where you think the market is going. If you need the money in the short term, it doesn’t belong in the market. If you have longer than a few years to invest, don’t worry about a crash as long as you…

2. Make sure your stops are in place

The Oxford Club recommends a 25% trailing stop loss. The stops protect gains as stocks rise and ensure that no single position results in a devastating loss. Since stocks are up so much over the past four years, even if you do get stopped out, you should get out with a profit. This strategy also ensures that you have plenty of cash to get back into the market at lower prices. During the financial crisis, Oxford Club Members were stopped out of positions in 2008 and took profits on many stocks that had risen during the previous bull. That freed up capital to get back in during the lows of 2008 and 2009, resulting in some huge winners, including Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA), up 255%, and Diageo (NYSE: DEO), up 171%.

3. Review your portfolio

If you haven’t done so in a while, take a look at the stocks in your portfolio. Make sure the companies are still operating at a high level. If you own Perpetual Dividend Raisers — stocks that raise their dividend every year — examine when the company last raised its dividend. If the company is continuing its streak of annual dividend raises, generally speaking, you should be fine for the long term.

4. Be ready to buy when things are bleak

It takes a lot of guts to buy stocks when it feels like the market is falling apart, but that’s how the biggest gains are made. Whether you’ve raised capital by selling stocks whose stops were hit, or you have money set aside, buy stocks after a market slide. You might not catch the bottom, but since stocks go up over the long haul, getting them at a discount will add significantly to your returns. Regardless of the predictability of the magazine cover theory or any other signal, long-term investors should not get caught up in the day-to-day market noise. You will make money as long as you don’t panic in the face of a sell-off.

Marc Lichtenfeld is a senior analyst at Investment U. See more articles by Marc here. - See more at:

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