Market may be scary but now is not the time to panic and run away

The Dow plunged more than 600 points o...

Posted: Oct 26, 2018 12:28 AM
Updated: Oct 26, 2018 12:28 AM

The Dow plunged more than 600 points on Wednesday and is down 6% in October. The Nasdaq has fallen nearly 10% for the month.

Still, it's not time for longer-term investors to panic -- even if October is notorious for scary market declines.

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Experts say big sell-offs are often a good time for investors to double down on their investments. One recommended looking for companies that are expected to post healthy gains in sales and earnings. A strong balance sheet and a steadily growing dividend don't hurt either.

"With earnings season in full force, this is when stock pickers can add a lot of value," said Ernesto Ramos, managing director of active equities with BMO Global Asset Management. "There really was no good reason for the market to be down as much as it was Wednesday."

Look for value and 'cheap' tech stocks

Ramos said this is a good time to look for inexpensive stocks. But he warned investors against any temptation to buy market darlings that may offer a lot of growth, but trade at exorbitant valuations. He likes banking giant Citigroup (C) and drug king Pfizer (PFE).

But he added that you don't have to ignore technology. His funds also own the business software and cloud computing company Oracle (ORCL).

Ramos doesn't think the Federal Reserve's rate hikes or trade tension with China will lead to an immediate recession, like some have predicted.

"There will be a downturn eventually. There always is. But it's not imminent," he told CNN Business. "Don't panic. The economy is still on good footing."

It may seem like the sky is falling -- the CNN Business Fear & Greed Index, which looks at seven indicators of investor sentiment, has been sitting in Extreme Fear territory for the past week.

But John Norris, managing director with Oakworth Capital, said investors need to be dispassionate and look at the facts.

"Don't freak out. Do not get emotional. The markets should rally after the midterms and the dust about the current news cycle settles," Norris said.

"The data still looks good and there is nothing out there to suggest the economy will fall off the cliff in the next several quarters," he said.

Norris said he still likes big, dominant tech companies trading at reasonable values -- such as Apple (AAPL) and Google owner Alphabet (GOOGL).

Norris said energy stocks look compelling, too, as crude prices rise. And he likes more defensive consumer staples companies. Think of Coca-Cola (KO) and Procter & Gamble (PG) for example.

One investment strategist even went as far as to suggest that the current market environment is as attractive now as when President Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton nearly two years ago.

"We believe that this is not the end of the cycle or bull market," wrote Darrell Cronk, president of Wells Fargo Investment Institute in a report Thursday. "Current conditions have the potential to create some of the best entry points into equity markets since the November 2016 elections."

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