Read This Before the Market Crashes

Heck, some say it already has. But I don't care. This might sound crazy, but what do I care if investors open the floodgates again this afternoon? Think I've lost my marbles? Well, let me explain ...

I got my degree in finance in May 1987. (My mother still can't believe it.) A few months later, the stock market up and "crashed" -- really crashed. I was a bull then, and I've been one ever since. But back to graduation ...

Whether it was to divert attention from her shock that I'd stuck it out, or to better express it, I'll never know. But the day I chucked "Modern Portfolio Theory" for good, my mother handed me a long rectangular plastic case with a worn black rubber handle.

Of course, I had to open it!
And, of course, I kept what was inside. But just for fun, imagine I'd sold it instead. I could have dumped the money into Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) shares. I'd have more than $30,000 right now. You know where this is going, right? If I'd bought US Bancorp (NYSE: USB  ) , I'd be sitting on about $6,000.

Same story if I'd bought Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) . But if I'd waited a year or so and bought Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) instead? I could hire Paul Reed Smith to clean out my garage -- and while he's at it, he could make me a brand-new replacement present from Hope diamonds and dinosaur bones.

OK. That's a little cherry-picking there. So, let's dial it back a bit. What if I'd bought Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) ? Hardly took a genius to buy ole Pfizer in 1987, right? Well, now I'd have $6,000. Or how about either Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) or PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP  ) ? I'd still be living large.

Still too good to be true?
Boy, tough crowd. Let's just assume I pawned my graduation present and dumped the cash into a plain-vanilla S&P 500 index fund -- then ran off to Iowa City to "learn" to write poems and watch Denis Johnson not drink. I'd still be up some 300% -- even after this week's crash. Of course, that's my whole point.

And that's why I work at The Motley Fool. And why the Chicken Littles we see on TV drive me nuts. They cost you money. That's also why I was thrilled to help out David and Tom Gardner when they launched their Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter in the teeth of the last bear market.

After all, Stock Advisor is not just about helping investors like us find stocks that beat the market. It gives us the courage to stay in the market and harness the power of its long-term wealth-building power. Through good times and bad -- no matter how scary the future looks day to day.

Think this market bites?
Remember, I left school back in 1987. But what's easy to forget is that the decade in which we "borrowed a trillion dollars and threw ourselves a party" wasn't the 2000s -- it was the 1980s.

The 1970s -- now, that was the decade America "amassed the crippling debt that would bring us to our knees." Sound familiar? So please, perma-bears: Next time you get on TV saying "the sky is falling" or "the U.S. economy is headed for years of contraction if not outright depression" ... give me a date!

As for you, fellow investor, take these dire predictions with a grain of salt. And if you're in your prime savings and investing years, promise me you'll stay invested and keep on investing. This market stinks. We will have another recession. But that was true when I was a boy back in 1979 -- and here we are again.

So what the heck was in the box?
Earlier, I mentioned David and Tom Gardner. I can't speak for them regarding where the market is headed today, but I assure you they're long-term bulls on America and its companies. And according to watchdog Hulbert Financial Digest, they're having no problem whatsoever digging up great companies that are making folks like us a lot of money.

To the tune of 18.4% annualized, according to Hulbert. If you want to see why their recommendations are up an average 42% -- many, many times what you could have gotten from the S&P 500, consider this: Try Stock Advisor for an entire month on me. You can take 30 days to decide if you like what you see without paying a cent.

Of course, I feel your pain on days like these. And nobody can guarantee that David and Tom will keep up this torrid pace forever, but it's their sworn mission to beat the market year after year. My money's on them.

You've got nothing to lose but your fear. To find out more about this special Stock Advisor free trial, click here.

This article was first published July 19, 2007. It has been updated.

Paul Elliott opened the box. It wasn't a Paul Reed Smith. It was a mid-'80s Fender Stratocaster. Made in the U.S. of A. Paul still owns the Strat, as well as Pfizer and Coke, which are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations along with Home Depot. Pfizer is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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  • Report this Comment On September 18, 2008, at 8:45 PM, esxokm wrote:

    Great article, Paul! There is a high density of wisdom to your words.

    You have to wonder how many people will be brave enough to buy GE at its current levels. And maybe even Goldman Sachs.

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