Feeling Jittery? Get Defensive

Investors have been getting jittery lately, given the specter of US interest rate hikes, China’s problems, and Europe’s lingering concerns. But Validea CEO John Reese says that those thinking of abandoning stocks should consider another option.

“Given how much the market has risen and how much we continue to hear about the next big crisis, many investors still feeling the pain of 2008 and 2009 will be tempted at times like these to take the profits and bail on stocks,” Reese writes in his latest Seeking Alpha column. “But keep in mind that trying to time the market is a dangerous game, and numerous studies show that most investors fail when they try to do it. If you really need to calm your nerves, however, I think a better option than bailing on the market altogether is to simply switch to some more defensive areas. That way you give yourself some downside protection, but you also stay exposed to stocks and can capture a good amount of the market’s gains if stocks continue to rise. I’m not saying that defensive areas are the best place to be; I’m saying that it’s better to stick with stocks than it is to bail, and that a defense-minded portfolio can help you do that if you are getting jittery.” He offers a handful of defensive picks that his Guru Strategies are high on right now, including Coca-Cola.

For what it’s worth, Reese doesn’t think we’re headed for a big market decline anytime soon. “Valuations are slightly elevated, but quite reasonable for this stage of a bull market, and the gains in the market during the current bull run have been accompanied by some very real, significant improvements in the economy,” he says. “Several metrics show that employment conditions are as good as they were or better than they were during the bull market that preceded the Great Recession. Low gas prices are providing a sort of tax cut for consumers. The manufacturing and service sectors have both continued to expand.”