Financially Speaking: Long-term investing Is VERY different from gambling |

Ironically, while researching some data for this column, the first article I came across was one written by Matt Kranitz for USA Today way back on Feb. 1, 2007, before the great recession.

In hindsight, the title of the article along with the date noted above when it appeared in that newpaper, “Investing is very much like gambling. The big difference is time” is more telling than the article itself. Let us explain.

This past February 19, 2020 the Standard & Poor’s 500, the largest 500 publicly traded companies domiciled in the United States, representing approximately 85% of the total stock market capitalization, closed at 3,386.15 only to then plummet 1148.75 points or 33.92% to 2237.40 over just twenty-three trading days. However, in a stunning fashion, a week ago Friday this index recaptured that prior high closing at 3,397.16 and has since even surged higher closing this past Thursday at 3,4984855

The data noted above as well as other a wealth of additional empirical data supports the statement that unlike gambling where the chance of winning diminishes as time passes, the odds of positive investment returns by investing in equities increases as time passes. And thereby lies the difference.

We recommend that our readers become investors rather than traders. Don’t concern yourself with what will occur in the stock market over the next week, month or even quarter. Rather, concern yourself with what you believe will be the direction of stock prices over a full economic cycle, or five to eight years. Become an investor. Tune out the “halftime report” of each trading day. Tune off “market wrap.” Tune off news teasers like “you can’t afford to miss these earnings releases.”

Assuming that you agree with the above and are an investor rather than a trader, make certain that you diversify your holdings across four to six different industries. You therefore will be able to weather any unexpected downturn in a particular sector.

A third recommendation that may help you invest more profitably over time is to realize that you will not be right all of the time. However, the important factor is to be right over time. Once again, don’t appraise your portfolio on a daily basis. It becomes not unlike weighing yourself every day. You will never be happy, eventually become exasperated and give up. Measure your performance versus appropriate indices over time and recognize that you will make errors.

Continue to dollar cost average, investing on a systematic basis through your company sponsored pension plan such as 401(k) or 403(b). Assuming that you are allocated appropriately between stocks and bonds to meet your long-term objectives, it is imperative that you do not make major changes to your investment patterns during periods of market downturns.

Finally, upgrade your portfolio to industry leaders. Do not accept the marginal investments that might you currently own. Trade up.

Please note that all data is for general information purposes only and not meant as specific recommendations. The opinions of the authors are not a recommendation to buy or sell the stock, bond market or any security contained therein. Securities contain risks and fluctuations in principal will occur. Please research any investment thoroughly prior to committing money or consult with your financial advisor. Please note that Fagan Associates, Inc. or related persons buy or sell for itself securities that it also recommends to clients. Consult with your financial advisor prior to making any changes to your portfolio. To contact Fagan Associates, Please call (518) 279-1044.

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