The stock and bond markets always change in value. If you are invested in the markets, you are going to experience the financial effects of fluctuation. Should you worry or not? Here are four reasons why you should not worry, and two reasons why you should.
You should not worry about downward moves in the market for these reasons:
1. If you primarily invest for dividends, the dividend income is your focus, not the value of the shares. Dividend investing has some similarity to the real estate owner who rents his or her property. The monthly rent helps determine the return on investment. The market value of the property is not of great concern since the owner does not intend to sell. The current purpose of ownership is the receipt of income. If you are content with the dividend income from your mutual fund or stocks, the market value is a secondary concern.
2. If you are purchasing shares regularly, a downward move in the market is not a problem–it is an opportunity to accumulate more shares at a lower price. The downturn can be a welcome event. The renowned investor, Warren Buffet, seems to find good values during periods of market declines. A lowering of prices does not necessarily mean a scarcity of good value. Sometimes prices are lower because the demand for ownership has fallen–and not because a business or a property suddenly has less value. If you believe that a decline will not be permanent and that demand for ownership will increase in the future, the current market price is not that important.
3. If you are a long-term investor, current prices should not cause worry. A long term maybe five years or more. The question is, what will prices be in five years? The answer should be based on the investment’s prospects. As an example, the cost of real estate may be calculated by using rental income return as a determining factor for investment value. This return on investment reasoning can apply to dividend-paying stocks as well. If rents will go up in the future, or if business profits will increase in the future, so will the price that someone has to pay to assume ownership of the asset. As a bonus, you have had the benefit of the dividends, or return on your investment, throughout the entire term of your ownership.
4. If you understand that there is a relationship between risk and reward, you should not be upset as the investment process unfolds. Informed risk-taking uses information and reason in an effort to offset risk. Risk is never eliminated. For you to claim the fruits of excellent investment results, you must also be willing to bear the negative possibilities that accompany risk-taking.
Here are two reasons why you should worry about downward market moves:
1. You are an equity investor. You do not invest for income. The market price of your assets must move higher from the price you paid for you to make a profit. When you are not looking for income to provide a return on investment, you have no other choice than to rely on the increase in market price. Why does market price go higher? Because there is a demand to own the asset or because there is a belief that the asset’s value will increase. An income investor has a real indication of an asset’s productive value, the anticipated dividend, while an equity investor relies on less concrete indicators. Therefore, a downward price movement is of more significant consequence.
2. You plan to sell your investment soon. You want the highest price you can get. Will the rate go higher or lower from where it now sits? The need for cash and a pessimistic view of near-term market direction are both strongly tied to the current price.
Whether your interest is in participating in dividend-paying stocks or in buying low and selling higher, your temperament and tolerance for various levels of risk are factors to consider when choosing your investment strategies.
Howard Feigenbaum is Registered Principal and Owner of Sharemaster, a Broker-Dealer firm that specializes in monthly dividend income funds.
“Do you know the only thing that gives me pleasure? It’s to see my dividends coming in.” – John D. Rockefeller
This article is a general discussion of the subject and is not intended as a solicitation or specific investment advice.