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No one can perfectly predict the stock market, so figuring out the best time to buy stocks can be tough. In the absence of a crystal ball, here are 6 time periods in which you might want to consider investing in stocks.
CIBC Investor's Edge
Here are some good times periods in which you might want to consider investing in stocks.
An initial public offering is when a company first sells its shares on the stock market, which is known as the primary market. Sometimes IPO stocks are available to individual investors (“retail investors”), but this is changing.
Getting in on the ground floor when a company first goes public can be a good time to invest as this may be when stocks are the cheapest.
For example, Amazon stock was $18 USD when the company went public in May 1997. The stock price has since risen by more than 100,000%.
Stock prices often rise due to the hype surrounding an IPO and then fall. You could lose money if a stock goes down in value. So carefully research companies before you invest to figure out which stocks seem likely to rise in value, or at least remain stable.
A growth investor will try to identify companies that are expanding rapidly. These types of companies often have consistently high revenues and profits, which will ultimately help their share price grow.
Investors will look at who leads the company, its business plan, recent revenue and profit, and its past stock performance relative to similar stocks to determine if a company is growing fast and if there’s room for continued growth.
Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) provides a company’s annual growth figure based on a defined period of revenues, say, 3 years. There is risk, as it can be hard to identify when a company’s value has peaked, and some investors may be tempted by businesses trying to cash in on the popularity of a particular theme or sector.
For example, investors flocked to technology stocks during the dot com boom in the 1990s. But many stocks crashed when evidence emerged calling into question companies’ valuations.
A value investor will try to spot undervalued stocks. By looking for stocks with low prices or price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios, they hope to identify potentially profitable companies that may be overlooked by the broader market.
Company accounts, analyst reports and news stories can give you an idea of a company’s outlook and if now is a good time to invest. The returns could be decent if you spot a company that’s set to turn its stock around, and the shares rise in value. But there’s also a risk that stocks may stay down or fall even further.
In investing, going against the herd by buying when others are selling (or vice versa) is called contrarian investing.
Some companies or sectors may go out of fashion or lose investors’ confidence, but a contrarian investor might choose to hold onto shares they believe have a dominant market position and will stand the test of time, or at least grow in the long term. This approach can take a lot of patience and bravery.
One of the most well-known contrarian and value investors is Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett. The Sage of Omaha has become an investing veteran by backing and holding onto sector-dominant companies like Coca-Cola and Gillette that are performing well, even if this isn’t currently reflected in those companies’ stock prices.
Rather than looking for what others are missing, there’s no harm in sometimes following the crowd. This is known as momentum investing. Momentum investors identify certain fashions or themes and buy stocks they believe will continue to rise.
Some investors may choose stocks that provide income in the form of payouts, known as dividends. Dividends can be paid monthly, quarterly or annually and are usually issued by large, established companies. The stock price of these companies may not skyrocket very often but can still provide a reliable source of income. Note that companies may choose to decrease or eliminate dividends.
Investing is a long-term game – it can be tempting to sell if the value of a stock is falling, but experts recommend planning to invest in a stock for at least 5 years. If a stock falls, look for reasons why this is happening and the likelihood that the price will recover.
Selling too soon can mean taking a loss. You might miss out on a recovery that could’ve boosted your portfolio.
For example, Facebook (now Meta) went public to much excitement in May 2012. Amid concerns about the company’s valuation, its stock failed to move above the listing price of $38 USD and fell to as low as $19 USD by August 2012. Those who stuck it out with Facebook stock initially took a loss but would’ve seen their shares grow to $116 USD by December 2022.
Buying a stock just because it is cheap can be risky. There may be reasons the price is so low, so check company fundamentals and other sources such as analyst and media reports.
A good way to guard against the risk of losing money in the stock market is to diversity your investments across different sectors and use multiple investing strategies. If one sector or strategy is failing to pay off, others may pick up the slack and compensate for any losses.
Investing when stock prices have dropped can be a cheap way of buying a stake in companies. This sounds simple, but it’s a bit like trying to catch a falling knife. Timing is important. If you don’t catch it cleanly, you could get hurt. In the case of stocks, it could mean losing money.
You need to be sure that the stock has reached the bottom before you buy, or the value of your holding will fall. Hesitating can also make you lose money. It might be worth buying now if you think a company is likely to grow in the future. Or if you buy dividend stocks as a source of income, you might not want to wait until prices drop.
Stock markets have opening and closing times during which you can make trades. Stock prices can change quickly just as a market opens, as traders have digested news or economic events since the markets closed and have prepared their trades overnight.
The middle of the day tends to be calmer in terms of price volatility. Stock prices can be a bit more unpredictable towards the end of the day, as active day traders attempt to buy or sell before the market closes.
This shouldn’t matter if you are investing for the long term. A diversified portfolio helps smooth out losses over decades, letting you benefit from more highs than lows in the stock market.
There are a couple of theories about how markets perform during the week. Some stocks may be hit by the “Monday effect,” where the market follows wherever it was heading on Friday and usually ends up falling. This is because companies tend to release bad news at the end of the week or over the weekend in the hope that it gets less coverage.
There is an old investment adage that investors should “sell in May and go away, come back on St Leger’s Day.” This refers to an old 18th-century English tradition where traders would quit London for somewhere warmer in the summer months and come back during Autumn in September. Followers of this mantra claim that markets are more dull during the spring and summer months.
UK investment platform, Tilney, looked at 31 years of total return data for the FTSE All Share Index in 2017 for between May and September. It found that investors would’ve made positive returns by staying in the market for 20 out of the 31 years. This compares with markets rising 77% of the time across the full calendar year over this 31-year period. The study shows that it’s hard to guess the best month to invest, as you only really know once time has passed.
Another popular investment term is the “Santa rally.” This is a belief that traders and funds will finalize their stock trades to close their books in the final days of the calendar year, so they can then enjoy the festive season.
The term was coined by analyst Yale Hirsch in 1972 who found evidence that the Dow Jones rose every year around the holidays all the way back to 1896. Additional analysis suggests the S&P 500 has had a Christmas boost 17 out of 26 times since 1993.
Still, it’s important to remember that past performance does not guarantee how stocks will perform in the future.
Warren Buffett famously said the best time to invest was several years ago, the second best is now. Ultimately, the earlier you start investing in stocks, the more you can smooth out any losses and benefit from returns.
Long-term investors also benefit from compound interest. This is where you can start investing with $1,000, for example, and if your stock portfolio grows by 5% in a year, you then have an extra $50 to invest without using any more of your own money. If markets grow by another 5% over a year, your $1,050 will have earned $52.50, turning your initial investment into $1,102.50.
Do your research,and make investment decisions backed by research and an understanding of your own financial goals and strategies.
There are many factors that can influence a company’s stock price, including its financial performance, the release of annual reports and good and bad press coverage.
For example, popular exercise bike company Peloton’s share price fell 11% in just one day in December 2021 when a character in the Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That… died after suffering a heart attack on the machine.
Political, social and economic factors can also impact stock prices. Zoom and Netflix stocks performed well during the COVID-19 pandemic as people worked and played from home. But travel stocks plummeted at the end of November 2021 after the Omicron coronavirus variant emerged, prompting governments to impose travel restrictions.
You don’t have to stick to a single investment strategy. Some strategies may be best suited to certain economic periods or market trends. Diversifying your portfolio with a mixture of investments will help you weather short-term market storms to experience long-term gains.
Don’t worry too much about the best time, day or month to invest. Market duration can be more important than timing your trade, as stocks may go in and out of fashion depending on the economy.
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