While there has been a fair amount of conversation about the ickiness of chasing down Japanese stocks in the wake of the terrible disasters in that country, it's actually a very positive sign. After all, the last thing that Japan needs right now is to see capital rushing out of its markets. Confidence in Japanese companies and the ability of the economy to bounce back benefit the country as it tries to grapple with the recovery effort.
In fact, far from being concerned that Japan won't bounce back, it seems as if everyone and their mother is suddenly talking about jumping into Japanese stocks. Even Warren Buffett chimed in, saying:
If I owned Japanese stocks, I would certainly not be selling them because of the events of the past 10 days or so. ... Something out of the blue like this, an extraordinary event, really creates a buying opportunity.
Certainly that's often true. But situations like this also create the opportunity for investors to rush to buy investments that they don't fully understand just to try to hop on board with everyone else. A Japanese stock that's down may have been targeted by sellers because of the earthquake, but there also could be deteriorating fundamentals. An investor who grabs a stock in the latter boat is going to be sorely disappointed when it doesn't rise with the rest of the Japanese market.
In addition, the market was hit hard and fast, but at this point it hasn't been overly drastic. The Nikkei is down around 7.5% and major global Japanese companies like Toyota
If the Japanese market continues to recover, you're likely not missing out on huge gains by staying on the sidelines. Conversely, if investors start to get cold feet as the recovery efforts move forward, there could be a better opportunity to buy.
So what to do right now? First, making a donation is a great way to help out. My fellow Fool John Reeves wrote an excellent article about the best places to donate (thumbs-up for my charity of choice, AmeriCares!).
After that, you can start digging into targeted areas. A week ago, Joe Magyer highlighted three such areas, including uranium producers like Cameco
You can get started digging into these companies -- and others -- by adding them to your Foolish watchlist.
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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or on his RSS feed. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.