Did your stocks survive the 3% market dip on Aug. 9? Yeah, neither did mine.

We aren't alone, at least. Only a handful of stocks survived the carnage that day. Among the few in the green were Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) and Carnival Cruise Lines (NYSE:CCL).

Considering the market volatility we've experienced over the past three months, investors have to be wondering whether this is a sign of things to come. And after four years of solid market gains, it wouldn't be out of the question for the market to enter a prolonged selling period.

On the other hand, perhaps the markets are so convinced of an impending slide that the confluence of global credit concerns and the subprime mortgage fallout may turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Whatever the case may be, recent events remind us yet again of the risk and volatility in the stock market.

Lesson learned
While this would be a great time to reassess your risk exposure, it would be folly to sell off your stocks based solely on recent events.

Las Vegas Sands and Carnival, two exceptions on Aug. 9, show that not all stocks follow general market sentiment.

In fact, during the last bear market, from August 2000 to March 2003, when the S&P shed 42% of its value, fully 1,810 stocks posted positive gains.

Among them were:


Total Return,
August 15, 2000
to March 13, 2003

Sunoco (NYSE:SUN)


Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM)


Cognizant Technology (NASDAQ:CTSH)


Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC)


International Game Technology (NYSE:IGT)




*Data provided by Capital IQ and Yahoo! Finance.

What's their secret?
The stories behind each company's bear-market growth are vastly different. Sunoco capitalized on the growing global demand for oil; International Game Technology built casino games; and Starbucks provided a caffeine fix to millions of customers.

But all of them did share something in 2000: free cash flow. In other words, each company was fiscally sound and was generating extra cash by the time the bear market rolled around. This made it much easier for them to go about business as usual during a very hectic time for the U.S. markets.

Bringing it full circle
So while the volatility we experienced in August served as a wake-up call for investors, it was also a reminder that not all stocks follow adverse market trends. Now's a great time to make sure you're invested in financially sound companies with strong business models and reasonable valuations.

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This article was originally published Feb. 28, 2007. It has been updated.

Fool contributor Todd Wenning's random '90s movie of the day is Mo' Money, starring Damon Wayans. He owns shares of Starbucks, which is also a Stock Advisor pick. Symantec is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy believes that a job ain't nothin' but work.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.