Losers

The Washington Generals have been playing basketball since 1952. During their tenure they’ve won three games, one in each of the following years – 1954, 1958 and 1971.[1] Despite their lackluster output they repeatedly play in front of sold out crowds at over 450 events per year. Why? It’s because their primary opponent is the Harlem Globetrotters.

The Globetrotters win most of their basketball games and, as a result, the Generals must endure a constant thumping. They are perennial “losers” because of their role, however, they’re really winners because of their long-term association with the Globetrotters.

Some investors are classified as “losers” because they routinely purchase stock at the wrong time. They buy stocks when the market hits an all-time high or just before a correction.

The last three corrections in the stock market have been the Great Recession, The Tech Wreck, and Black Monday. If you invested 100% of your money in the stock market on the eve of these three catastrophic events, how would your portfolio have fared?

The Great Recession occurred from October 2007 to March 2009 and the S&P 500 fell 57%. A \$100,000 investment in October 2007 fell to \$43,000 in March 2009. If you sold during the dark days of the recession, you would’ve lost 57% of your investment. If you held on, your original investment is now worth \$226,000 – a gain of 127%! You generated an average annual return of 7.84% from 2007 to 2018.[2]

The Tech Wreck happened from April 2000 to October 2002. During this rout, the S&P 500 dropped 43%. A \$100,000 investment in April 2000 fell to \$60,000 by September 2002. You lost 43% if you sold at the bottom.  If you held, your original investment is now worth \$263,000 – a gain of 163%.[3]

The stock market crash on October 19, 1987 was frightening. The market fell 22% on Black Monday after falling 4.5% the previous Friday. If you invested \$100,000 on Thursday, October 15, 1987, you were down more than 26% by the market close on Monday. After two days of investing you lost \$26,000. However, 31 years later, your original investment is now worth \$1.64 million. You made 1,543% on your investment, or 9.5% per year![4]

If you happen to be a loser and buy stocks at the wrong time, hang on, because, like the Globetrotters, the stock market usually wins in the end.

“I have never known anyone who could consistently time the market. And in fact, I’ve never known anyone who knows anyone, who was able to consistently time the market.” ~ Burton Malkiel

August 26, 2018

Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management firm located 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.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog.

Photo Credit: Andrey Popov

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Generals#Beating_the_Harlem_Globetrotters, website accessed 8/28/18.

[2] Morningstar Office Hypothetical – results as of 7/31/2018.

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid