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There's No need to panic

By unknown | Mar 25, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Since the start of this year, local and international markets have offered investors a lot of excitement, but some tension and panic as well.

Since the start of this year, local and international markets have offered investors a lot of excitement, but some tension and panic as well.

The All Share Index bottomed out for the first time on January 23, leaving some investors panicking.

David Crosoer of Glacier Research says investors who couldn't stomach the volatility during this period and sold out at the worst possible time could have banked an 11,9 percent return by investing in cash.

But those investors who stuck with their equity managers would in the past six weeks have (just) made up the annual yield on the cash, but would have lagged the 20 percent plus recovery in the All Share Index by a considerable amount.

Crosoer says both these investors might have reason to be disappointed.

The latest local market turmoil last week was sparked by the falling of global stocks and the tumbling of the US dollar as a result of JP Morgan Chase's acquisition of the troubled US investment bank Bear Stearns.

Confidence in stock markets around the world was left shaken, leaving South Africans extremely uncertain about the value of their investments.

Last Monday, more than R100 billion was wiped off South Africa's equity markets, leaving investors reeling with shock.

But market experts say investors should not panic because R100billion comprises a small percentage of the JSE market capitalisation.

Nic Andrew, head of Nedgroup Investments, says: "The market cap of the JSE has increased by 250percent over the last five years. In this time, over R3,5trillion of value has been created."

Though much of this is part of the normal business circle, Andrew says it is very important that the turmoil should be seen in context: more challenging environment with the sub-prime crisis in the US, power outages, political uncertainty, slowing growth, higher inflation and interest rates.

He says there have been many other crises, for example, the emerging market crisis of 1998 and more recently the September 11 crisis in the US.

According to Andrews, each time the situation looked very dire, but a calm, sensible approach was most appropriate and rewarding for investors.

The best thing for the ordinary investor to do is to go back to basics, he advises.

Andrews says that investors should clearly establish their goals, determine the most appropriate asset allocation to achieve that goal (understanding the risk involved) and implement the strategy and stick with the plan.

Andrews says: "Too many investors who fall prey to their emotions, panic and forget about their plan."

He adds that this destroys enormous value and is the main reason why many investors do not achieve their goals.

For Tshepo Ntsimane, Legae Securities chief executive, the main concern should be how long the turmoil will last.

He says investors who have invested for the long term should not panic, but continue keeping their shares because stocks will perform well in the long term.

Ntsimane cautions investors who want to go into the market now because there could be buying opportunities at a later stage.

"As long as there is this uncertainty, there could be further weaknesses in the market for buying opportunities at a later stage," Ntsimane says.

For Crosoer, holding cash is only a temporary solution, as at some stage you will need to re-enter the market.

But if you are concerned about higher inflation, and at this stage it looks unlikely that inflation will go down, Crosoer says cash is still preferred to property or bonds.

Toby Wooldridge, head of Go Banking, also believes that cash is currently king.

He says people with some extra money may want to consider safer investment options until the waters calm down.

"One such option is a money market investment account," says Wooldridge.

The money market is an instrument of the fixed income market issued by governments, financial institutions and large corporations, and provide a stable return to investors.

Though they are considered extraordinarily safe, offering lower return than most other securities, Wooldridge says in the current economic climate, their returns could outperform more risky investments.

The yields on money market securities are linked to interest rates. So while rising interest rates are hurting consumers who are in debt, they are providing good returns for money market investors.


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