The question is asked often these days. "How will we know when the bear market is over?" Unfortunately, investors will only know this once the market reaches new highs -- and that's too late to harvest the most fruitful profits.

There isn't a reliable way to know when the market has reached its lows (if there were, the market wouldn't really work, right?). But there is one thing we do know. It will end, and we will thank ourselves for buying first-rate companies at a discount when it does.

The Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.95%) is down more than 30% year to date, marking its most significant drawdown from its high since the Great Recession, as shown below.

^IXIC Chart

^IXIC data by YCharts

While it could still fall further, this is a tremendous opportunity for investors to dollar-cost average into positions. After all, those who didn't hit the exact bottom of previous drawdowns are sitting on massive profits. Here is the same chart from above in actual dollars. 

^IXIC Chart

^IXIC data by YCharts

As this shows, timing a bottom isn't necessary; disciplined investing in the world's preeminent companies consistently is. Adobe (ADBE -1.25%) and Walt Disney (DIS 1.55%) are two beaten-down examples. 

Adobe looks unreasonably discounted

Last year, more than 400 billion PDFs were opened, 90% of creative professionals rely on Adobe Photoshop, and 165 million folks have joined the creative economy since 2020. Fresh content is vital for businesses, advertisers, creative professionals, and others, and Adobe products make it happen.

Meanwhile, the company reported record fiscal third-quarter 2022 revenue ($4.43 billion on 13% growth), generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) operating income of $1.5 billion, and cash from operations of $1.7 billion (up 20% year over year). This doesn't seem like a troubled business. Yet, the stock is down 41% year to date. 

Much of the decline stems from Wall Street's short-sighted, pessimistic reaction to Adobe acquiring cloud-based design software company Figma. The price for Figma was steep at 50 times expected 2022 sales, but there is much more than meets the eye.

This deal is forward-looking because it allows Adobe to:

  • Stay on the cutting edge. Tech workers love Figma, and this deal nets Adobe perhaps the best collaborative real-time editing software on the market.
  • Leverage Figma's 100% annual recurring revenue growth, 90% gross margins, and estimated $16.5 billion 2025 annual addressable market.
  • Keep Figma out of the hands of competitors.

The deal that now looks expensive may be considered prescient in a few short years.

As shown below, Adobe stock trades well off its average price-to-earnings and price-to-free-cash-flow ratios.

ADBE PE Ratio Chart

ADBE PE Ratio data by YCharts

It's time for investors to consider Adobe for the long term.

Former CEO returns to turn around Disney

Disney shocked the market just before Thanksgiving with the return of former CEO Bob Iger. Investors hope this can spur results as the stock trades near its March 2020 pandemic crash lows and down 40% year to date.

Iger will earn just $1 million in salary, but annual stock awards are targeted at $25 million annually. This stock-based compensation keeps his goals aligned with those of long-suffering shareholders.

Disney structures itself in two segments. Media and entertainment distribution (media) sales stem from licensing, cable television channels (ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel, etc.), and streaming services like Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. Meanwhile, the parks, experiences, and products (experiences) division encompasses theme parks, cruises, and resorts.

The experiences segment's sales and profits have fully recovered from the pandemic, reaching new highs in fiscal 2022, as shown in the chart below.

Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products segment results.

Data source: Disney. Chart by author.

The streaming wars are on and taking a toll on Disney's media profits. Sales rose 8% to $55 billion, but operating income fell 42% to just $4.2 billion in fiscal 2022. Disney is going toe to toe with Netflix, adding 57 million subscribers in fiscal 2022 to reach 235 million subscribers across its platforms. 

With Iger back in the fold, Disney+ is looking to increase profits with its new ad-supported subscription offering. According to Statista, 45% of subscribers plan to use the lower-cost ad-supported plan, which could be a significant boon to Disney's profits. Iger has also pledged to empower the company's creators and restructure costs. 

The turnaround won't happen overnight -- there is much work to do. Investors can take solace that Disney is determined to change, and the stock can be bought near its pandemic-crash lows. One thing is sure: The Disney brand is irreplaceable. 

Bear markets are disheartening. No one likes to see hard-earned money slipping away. But there are terrific values available. Even though the market can't go up every year, it's still the best long-term wealth-building mechanism around.