The Key To Long-Term Success In The Stock Market Is...
Stocks stepped lively again on Thursday and had it not been for IBM (NYSE: IBM) stinking up the joint, the screens would have been green across the board.
With "Itty Bitty Machines" lopping somewhere around 90 points off of the DJIA (NYSE: DIA) the day may not have looked like much to the casual observer. However, the S&P 500 (NYSE: SPY), Russell 2000 (NYSE: IWM) Smallcap, and S&P 500 Midcap (NYSE: MDY) indices all finished at fresh all-time highs and the NASDAQ Composite (NASDAQ: QQQ) closed at its best level since early 2000.
So, despite the venerable Dow Industrials closing with a red number, it is safe to say that it was a good day to be invested in the stock market.
So Much For The Fear Mongering
So much for the freak-out that was supposed to happen in response to the nation's lawmakers acting like two-year olds, right? So much for the "sell the news" trade that was supposed to occur the minute the deal in Washington was signed. And so much for the fear about the shutdown's impact on the economy.
To be sure, stocks could easily embark on a nasty decline tomorrow. But so far at least, listening to the all the fear mongering offered up by the bears and the press has been a recipe for disaster in 2013. The bottom line is despite all the issues with the Fed, the government, Europe, China, etc., stocks finished Thursday October 17 at all-time highs.
Take a peek at the chart shown below. This is a snapshot of the S&P 500 on a monthly closing basis since 1994.
S&P 500 Index - Monthly Closes
Hmmm... The chart appears to start at the lower left and finish in the upper right. And while the middle section was a bit of a bumpy ride, the fact that the market finished at all-time highs yesterday is still a good thing, right?
For those of you keeping score at home, the S&P 500 is up 21.52 percent so far in 2013 and since the time everyone thought the global banking system was going to collapse in March 2009, the market has advanced 156.2 percent. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Yes Virginia, There IS a Point
The point to what is rapidly turning into a meandering morning market missive is that investing according to what one expects to happen next in the stock market can be a problem.
Take another look at the chart above. This time, pay attention to the gains and losses that occurred during the big bull and bear markets. From 1994 through early 2000, the S&P gained about 235 percent. Then the Tech Bubble bear market took a big bite out those gains with a loss of 46 percent. What followed was a run-of-the-mill cyclical bull market which sported a bottom-to-top return of nearly 90 percent. Then things got very ugly as the market took a 56 percent drubbing during the credit crisis. But then, as day follows night, the next bull has produced a gain of 156 percent so far.
Buy-and-Hope Works, But Buy-and-Sell Works Better!
The real point this fine Friday morning is that the key to long-term investment success in the stock market isn't trading in and out of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) or Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA). No, the REAL trick is to get the big moves in the overall market right.
Want proof? Grab a calculator and let's do some math. Assume that an investor can capture 70 percent of the gains from each bull market and then miss one-half of the bear markets. The thinking here is that bull markets have historically lasted about three times as long as bear markets. So, assuming an investor waits until a move is fairly obvious, they will still be able to capture a decent chunk of the bulls and avoid a good part of the bears.
Doing The Math
So here goes. The bull market from 1994 through 2000 produced a gain of 235 percent. Seventy percent of that is 164.5 percent. Thus if one started with $1 on 1/1/94, they would now have $2.645. The Tech Bubble bear market declined 46 percent. So, subtract half or 23 percent and the account is now worth $2.03665. Continuing on, add back in a gain of 62.3 percent, subtract out 28 percent, and add 109.8 percent. The bottom line here is that $1 invested in 1994 is now worth $4.99313, which is a gain of 399 percent.
The question, of course, is how would one have fared if they had simply put $1 in the S&P 500 at the beginning of 1994 and left it there. The answer is that dollar would now be worth $3.77 - a gain of 277.37 percent.
The Winner Is...
So... If an investor was disciplined and utilized a buy-and-sell approach capturing 70 percent of the bull market gains and avoided one-half of the bear market losses, they would have produced a gain of 399 percent versus a gain of 277 percent for the buy-and-hope approach.
Thus, it is fairly obvious that a buy-and-sell method appears to be the superior strategy.
The morale of the story is that having a discipline - almost ANY discipline - is better than either (a) letting emotions guide decisions or (b) setting it and forgetting it. Yes, investing can take some work. But even a basic strategy would appear to be well worth the effort.
Current Market Drivers
We strive to identify the driving forces behind the market action on a daily basis. The thinking is that if we can both identify and understand why stocks are doing what they are doing on a short-term basis; we are not likely to be surprised/blind-sided by a big move. Listed below are what we believe to be the driving forces of the current market (Listed in order of importance).
1. The State of the Earnings Season
2. The Outlook for the U.S. Economy
3. The State of Fed Policy
The State of the Trend
We believe it is important to analyze the market using multiple time-frames. We define short-term as 3 days to 3 weeks, intermediate-term as 3 weeks to 3 months, and long-term as 3 months or more. Below are our current ratings of the three primary trends:
Short-Term Trend: Positive
(Chart below is S&P 500 daily over past 1 month)
Intermediate-Term Trend: Positive
(Chart below is S&P 500 daily over past 6 months)
Long-Term Trend: Positive
(Chart below is S&P 500 daily over past 12 months)
Key Technical Areas:
Traders as well as computerized algorithms are generally keenly aware of the important technical levels on the charts from a short-term basis. Below are the levels we deem important to watch today:
- Near-Term Support Zone(s) for S&P 500: 1720-25
- Near-Term Resistance Zone(s): none
The State of the Tape
Momentum indicators are designed to tell us about the technical health of a trend - I.E. if there is any "oomph" behind the move. Below are a handful of our favorite indicators relating to the market's "mo"...
- Trend and Breadth Confirmation Indicator: Positive
- Price Thrust Indicator:Positive
- Volume Thrust Indicator:Moderately Negative
- Breadth Thrust Indicator:Neutral
- Bull/Bear Volume Relationship: Moderately Positive
- Technical Health of 100 Industry Groups: Moderately Positive
The Early Warning Indicators
Markets travel in cycles. Thus we must constantly be on the lookout for changes in the direction of the trend. Looking at market sentiment and the overbought/sold conditions can provide "early warning signs" that a trend change may be near.
- Overbought/Oversold Condition: The S&P 500 is overbought from a short-term perspective and is moderately overbought from an intermediate-term point of view.
- Market Sentiment: Our primary sentiment model is neutral .
The State of the Market Environment
One of the keys to long-term success in the stock market is stay in tune with the market's "big picture" environment in terms of risk versus reward because different market environments require different investing strategies. To help us identify the current environment, we look to our longer-term State of the Markets Model. This model is designed to tell us when risk factors are high, low, or uncertain. In short, this longer-term oriented, weekly model tells us whether the odds favor the bulls, bears, or neither team.
Weekly State of the Market Model Reading: Positive
If you are looking for a disciplined, rules-based system to help guide your market exposure, check out The Daily Decision System.
Thought For The Day...
The world is but a canvas to the imagination. -Henry David Thoreau
Looking for Guidance in the Markets?
The Daily Decision: If you want a disciplined approach to managing stock market risk on a daily basis - Check the "Daily Decision" System. Forget the fast money and the latest, greatest option trade. Investors first need is a strategy to keep them "in" the stock market during bull markets and on the sidelines (or short) during bear markets. The Daily Decision system was up 30.3% in 2012, is up more than 25% in 2013, and the system sports an average compound rate of return of more than 30% per year.
The Insiders Portfolio: If you are looking for a truly unique approach to stock picking - Check out The Insiders Portfolio. We buy what those who know their company's best are buying - but ONLY when they are buying heavily! P.S. The Insiders is up over 30% in 2013 and has nearly doubled the S&P 500 since 2009.
The IRA/401K Advisor: Stop ignoring your 401K! Our long-term oriented service designed for IRAs and 401Ks strives to keep accounts positioned on the right side of the markets. This is a service you really can't afford not to use.
The Top 5 Portfolio: We keep things simple here by focusing on our five favorite positions. This concentrated stock portfolio employs a rigorous custom stock selection approach to identify market leaders. Risk management strategies are built in to every position.
All StateoftheMarkets.com Premium Services include a 30-day money-back guarantee!
Remember, you can receive email alerts for more than 20 free research report alerts from StateoftheMarkets.com including:
State's Chart of the Day - Each day we highlight a top rated stock with a positive technical setup.
The Risk Manager Report - Stay in tune with the market's risk/reward environment.
The “10.0” Report - These are the REAL best-of-breed companies.
The Insiders Report - See what the people who know their company's best are buying.
ETF Leaders Report - Looking for the top performing ETF's? You've come to the right place.
The SOTM 100 Portfolio - The top rated stocks in each market sector.
State's Market Models - Each week we quantify the "state of the market" with a series of models.
The Focus List - Think of the focus list as your own private research department. We do all the work and highlight our top picks each trading day
At StateoftheMarkets.com, our goal is to provide everything you need to be a more successful investor: The must-read headlines, market commentary, market research, stock analysis, proprietary risk management models, and most importantly – actionable portfolios with live trade alerts.
Finally, we are here to help - so don't hesitate to call with questions, comments, or ideas at 1-877-440-9464.
Wishing you green screens and all the best for a great day,
David D. Moenning
Founder and Chief Investment Strategist
For up to the minute updates on the market's driving forces, Follow Me on Twitter: @StateDave (Twitter is the new Ticker Tape)
Positions in stocks mentioned: none
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