Local investors are trying to ride out the stock market’s current swoon, in which the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 15 percent in the past month.
Gus Levy, a certified public accountant and owner of The Levy Co. in Baton Rouge, said the best thing to do is not to panic.
“That’s actually what I’m trying not to do,” he said.
Investors can find opportunities in a down market if they have the cash available, Levy said. The problem is that when the market is this low, people often don’t have the money available to take advantage.
Investors may have an easier time taking the long-term approach because the stock market’s plunge has limited people’s options, Levy said.
Cashing out of stocks would require investors to take a big loss for tax purposes, Levy said. Meanwhile, interest rates are very low, and the price of gold remains very high.
Mohit “Mo” Vij, president of General Informatics, a Baton Rouge-based information technology services firm, said he has adopted “the strategy of inaction.”
It’s really more of a holding pattern, he said.
If anything, Vij said, he will wait to see if the markets drop further and then invest more in stocks.
Warren Gandy, president of Appliance Distributors of Louisiana, said investors have been here before.
When the market crashed in 2008 — from April 2008 to March 2009, the Dow dropped more than 6,000 points — Gandy said he didn’t cash out.
He is, however, limiting his exposure to the markets.
“Anybody that’s more than 33 percent invested in the stock market, I think that’s kind of scary,” he said.
Gandy said he’s self-employed and his business will be his retirement. But people who are looking for a place to put their money might want to take a look at rental housing, Gandy said.
Prices and interest rates are low, he said. Rent houses are high-maintenance and not as easy as putting money into stocks, but the properties are certainly less volatile.
Philip Griffith, chief investment officer of the Teacher’s Retirement System of Louisiana, said the retirement fund is maintaining its course.
“To start off, we’re long-term investors so what happens from month to month doesn’t change our investment strategy,” Griffith said. “In fact, it potentially opens up investment opportunities for us.”
Teachers Retirement ended the fiscal year, June 30, with a 26.8 percent return on its investments. Teachers was highest-performing fund among public pension funds with more than $1 billion in assets, according to the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service.
Griffith said the fund follows an asset allocation model put together by its investment consultants, re-evaluating the strategy every 12 to 18 months.
“We rebalance so if stocks are up and bonds are down, we’ll pare off a little from stocks and move into bonds and vice versa,” Griffith said.
Levy said people close to retirement may be hurt the most by the stock market plunge, depending on how they have invested.
In general, investment advisers recommend that as people move closer to retirement, they reduce their risk, which may mean investing less in stocks and more in fixed-income instruments.
Cary Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Main Street Financial Federal Credit Union, said the market will have ups and downs, but it’s important to focus on the long-term goal.
“Over the years, I have learned not to let the hype distract me from achieving my goal,” he said. “Today, I am close to retirement so my money is invested differently than a lot of people, which means I am not as affected by the recent events of the stock market.”