It Is Often More Risky to Sell Than Hold

Aug 2009

. . . from the market’s close on Feb. 27th through its close on August 7th, the S&P 500 gained about 39.55%.  As you can see, anyone who sold near the panic low of early March missed considerable returns.  Further, those who decided to sell anytime since October 7, 2008 have seen the stock market move higher, not lower.  This is significant, because industry statistics indicate that the lion’s share of investors that bailed out of stocks during the September – March panic did so after October 7th.  Put differently, although people who sold thought they were reducing their risks, unless the stock market accommodates them by dropping a lot from today’s level (something we doubt), they have missed years of returns in a matter of months.  While it may seem risky to hold stocks—especially during recessions—history clearly tells us that it is often more risky to sell.  We made this point to our clients, and the large majority took our advice.  While we were doing our best to talk nervous investors off panic’s ledge, various media reporters and commentators published rumors and deeply flawed analyses almost daily—essentially shouting, “Jump! Jump!”  Investors should reflect on this experience and ask, as Telly Savalas’ detective character, Kojak, used to say, “Who loves ya, baby?”  Investors looking for love in the form of investment help or guidance from media reporters are looking for love in all the wrong places.