Should You Own Stocks?

Owning stocks is a pain in the rear. They constantly gyrate, bobbing up and down like buoys on the ocean. It’s two steps forward and one step back; they rise slowly and fall quickly. Frustrating.

Stocks dropped like stones last year, led by the Nasdaq, falling 33%. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones followed suit tumbling 19.44% and 8.78%, respectively, wiping out years of gains. Since 2013, the S&P 500 has had four corrections of 12% or more and numerous pullbacks between 3% and 5%. This century, the index has experienced two significant drops, plummeting 46% during the Tech Wreck and 56% during the Great Recession. Most investors still remember Black Monday, October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average crashed by 22%.

When stocks crash, investors want to sell their holdings, park their funds in a money market account, and wait for the storm to pass. And, when stocks rise 10%, investors want 20%. It’s a no-win situation.

Stocks get a bad rap. Yet, they are more than tickers moving across a screen or certificates in a vault; they are companies that run the world. Can you live your life without Apple, Amazon, or Google? Is it possible to ignore General Mills, Conagra, JM Smucker, or Campbell Soup? What about Krogers or Albertsons or Walmart, or Costco? You possibly drive a car manufactured by Ford, GM, Toyota, or Tesla. Do you drink coffee from Starbucks or eat at Mcdonald’s, Wendy’s, Chipotle, Domino’s, or Texas Roadhouse? Do you binge-watch shows from Disney, Netflix, or Paramount? You may bank at JP Morgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, or Citigroup. Your local utility company or phone company trades publicly as well. Your life revolves around common stocks; if you treat them as companies, you’ll do well over time.

Because the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates to fight inflation, buying individual bonds yielding 4%, 5%, 6%, or more is now possible. Many bond ETFs and mutual funds currently have above-average dividend yields. Why bother with stocks if you can generate decent returns from bonds? It’s a good question. If you want safety and income, buy bonds, but if you’re going to create generational wealth, invest in stocks.

Despite the negative stories surrounding stocks, they create wealth for individuals with the courage and patience to own them through multiple market cycles. Since 1973, the S&P 500 has generated an average annual return of 10.47%, turning $10,000 into $1.43 million. In contrast, the one-month US T-Bill, the most secure asset in the world, averaged 4.38%, and a $10,000 investment is now worth $85,000. Inflation averaged 3.98% for the past fifty years, wiping out most of the gains from the T-Bill.

Though stocks fell last year, they have performed well these past ten years, rising, on average, 191%, while bonds lost 11.5%. If we extend the chart to twenty years, the three indices gained 461%, and bonds lost 6.5%.

Stocks may cause short-term heartache but provide benefits over time, and you must own them if your time horizon is three to five years or more. Turning out the noise and distractions is a superpower for successful equity investors.

Should you own stocks? Yes, without a doubt!

Bye, bye, and buy stocks.

Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn’t happen. ~ Steven Wright

January 12, 2023

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.