If you’re new to investing, it can be a very unnerving time to buy shares in your first company. Especially when you can read news headlines such as: Bourse falls as blue chips see red, Australian market set to plunge, or Markets suffer largest one-day loss in nine months American financial history shows too that: The Bankers’ Panic of 1907 resulted in a fall in the market of almost 50% from the prior year’s peak The Stock Market Crash of 1929 caused the Dow to fall by 25% in a week, and Black Monday of 1987 witnessed a 25% wipe-out…
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If you’re new to investing, it can be a very unnerving time to buy shares in your first company. Especially when you can read news headlines such as:
Bourse falls as blue chips see red,
Australian market set to plunge, or
Markets suffer largest one-day loss in nine months
American financial history shows too that:
- The Bankers’ Panic of 1907 resulted in a fall in the market of almost 50% from the prior year’s peak
- The Stock Market Crash of 1929 caused the Dow to fall by 25% in a week, and
- Black Monday of 1987 witnessed a 25% wipe-out in one day
Each of these events occurred in the month of October.
More recently too, the Global Financial Crisis back in 2008-09 caused Australian markets in October to fall by more than 16%.
If you’re reading this in the month of October then, you could think that now is not a good time to invest.
Well, before you reach that conclusion, here’s a summary of each ‘October’ in the Australian market since 1993 represented today by the S&P/ASX 200:
|1 October||31 October||Gain/loss (%)|
* up to 21 October. Source: Yahoo Finance.
Between 1 July 1993 and 21 October 2016, I’ve observed that:
- October in each of the last 24 years has delivered a negative return eight times. The month of October therefore has been positive for investors two thirds of the time over the last near-quarter century
- The highest October gain was 7.35% (in 1993) and the biggest October loss was -16.2% (in 2008)
- The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the sharemarket (inclusive of dividends) since 1 July 1993 has been approximately 9%
- The Australian Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Average Weekly Ordinary Times Earnings (AWOTE) were 2.25% and 4.11% respectively over the same period
- If you had invested in the market at the worst possible time (in hindsight) on 30 June 2008, you would be sitting on a CAGR today, inclusive of dividends, of approximately 4.4% (CPI and AWOTE respectively were 1.22% and 3.5% over the same period).
If you can convince yourself to invest for the long-term then you can safely forget about basing your decision to buy depending on which month we’re in.
It’s also a fact that even if you were to buy shares at a time that looks absolutely catastrophic in hindsight, by holding on to your shares for a number of years you should still earn yourself a return above the cost of living and wages growth.
But that looks to be the worst case for the market as a whole.
What about particular stocks?
BHP, a company with good assets but with its fair share of mediocre management, has nevertheless managed to eke out a CAGR of 11.06%. Woolworths and Wesfarmers each earned shareholders CAGR of 13.74% and 15.20% respectively.
That’s $10,000 1993 dollars today worth $111,642, $193,199 and $259,064 respectively.
You should obviously attempt to buy shares at the cheapest price possible, but this should always be based on a rational assessment of the company’s prospects at the time, and not what time of the year it is.
You should also be cognisant of the fact that both Woolworths and Wesfarmers were smaller and less mature companies back in 1993. Even BHP was too when compared to the giant it is today.
My take on all of this is that investing in the shares of listed companies is a very good way to grow your wealth over the long term (which means more than five years).
Even if your timing is terrible, you should still be able to come out ahead of inflation and wages growth therefore allowing you to grow your wealth in real terms … as long as you remain an investor.
If you’re investing today, I’d go for the smaller and less mature companies of 2016 which may turn out to be the fat, giants of the Australian market in the future … but which have already made you a fortune.
Companies such as Challenger Ltd (ASX: CGF), Altium Limited (ASX: ALU), Freedom Foods Group Ltd (ASX: FNP), or Technology One (ASX: TNE) fit the bill in terms of potential, and hopefully your future returns will mimic the shareholder returns of the BHPs and Woolworths of yesteryear.
Don’t be put off by frightening headlines or what time of the year it is. If you’re new to the sharemarket, buy your first parcel today, add to your positions over time, and whatever you do, remain a life-long investor.
Your future self will thank you for it.
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Motley Fool contributor Edward Vesely has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.