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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

This Is No Time To Panic

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Skyrocketing energy prices and plunging home values have driven the U.S. consumer confidence level to its lowest point in 16 years and is impacting more than a few retirement and savings accounts. But there is no reason to panic, according to seasoned investment advisers.

“If your portfolio is properly allocated, then you’re situated for a long-term standpoint, full-market cycle. You have to expect things like this to happen from time to time,” said Tom Hille, a certified financial planner at Robert W. Baird & Co.

He says that if you regularly contribute to your retirement accounts, then keep doing so. “It’s like you’re getting the market on sale right now,” he said. “That’s the silver lining for people contributing to 401(k) plans and such. Many sectors are undervalued, but everything will regress back to the mean at some point.”

Hille strongly encourages diversification. “You want to be invested in many different sectors at once—small, medium and large cap, international, fixed income,” he said. “I’m not one to make any tactical bets on any part of the market, because nobody knows where market is heading. Nobody knows what the next hot sector will be.” Barry Arnold, chief investment officer, director and principal of Arnold Investment Counsel Inc., says to invest for recovery.

“The stock market is a discounting mechanism and is always looking ahead,” Arnold said. “By the time Wall Street and government statistics figure out that we are in a recession or a slowdown, we will already be coming of it.”

Arnold predicted that the market is close to bottom already, noting that recessions generally last about 11 months. He said financials and home-builder stocks are undervalued. “Stocks are the place to be,” he said. “We recommend 100% equities for retirement savings, right up to the age of 60. You need to be in the stock market longterm, and collect dividends and capital gains, especially when savings rates as low as they are today.”

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