Set aside any celestial seasonings that you may be expecting here. I can't offer you any form of fiscal salvation. There is no foolproof way to double your portfolio's value overnight (beyond depositing cash in the amount of your current portfolio into your brokerage account).
Thankfully, I'm loaded with other morsels of advice. I'll teach you how to prioritize your assets. I'll lend you a shoulder to cry on. I will even offer up a few stock ideas that I think will thrive over the course of these final five months of 2006. I can't save your soul but if my aim is true I may be able to save your portfolio.
Tip #1 - Learn to dance in the rain
Is August going to bring more of the same? If you're a growth stock investor, like me, you have probably been pummeled over the past few months. If secondary stocks tank in August, it will be the fifth straight month in which the Nasdaq index will get hammered.
I prefer to look at it another way. Corporate earnings have been improving so far this year. In other words, every pounding that the stock market takes makes the battered companies that much more attractive on a valuation basis. As long as the fundamentals aren't crumbling -- an important caveat, of course -- this is a golden opportunity to be a buyer instead of joining the masses that are selling. If you liked Netflix
Tip #2 - Prioritize your portfolio
Have you ever walked into a store where everything is on sale? Maybe it's a storewide event. Maybe you just happen to be holding a 20% off coupon that expires tomorrow. You're tempted to load up the cart, but just because it's all marked down doesn't mean that you can afford everything. Do you know what you can buy? Do you know what you would be willing to sell if you were willing to buy?
Do you have wads of idle cash waiting to be deployed in today's market? You probably don't, because if your stocks have been battered it probably pains you to cash out. You're not alone. You're also dying for someone to tell you that it's time to prioritize your investments. Guess what? It's time to prioritize your investments.
Breathe in. Take a step back. Exhale. Take a step forward. Approach your stocks with fresh eyes. You may have taxable implications to address in the weighing process, but the ideal approach is to view your portfolio as if you would be a buyer of each and every investment, rather than holding on to dead stocks or itching to move healthy ones.
Tip #3 - Rob a bank, legally
If your pockets are empty, look elsewhere for greenery. You can dig between your sofa cushions. You can check beneath your mattress. Ultimately, you are going to have to address more realistic solutions for liquidity than cracking open that piggy bank.
Living beneath your means is one way to make sure that you have a little extra money every month to toss into the market. And, no, you're not being desperate if you scour through your belongings and hold a garage sale or hit eBay
This doesn't mean that any greenbacks that you land should be earmarked for the market. As subscribers to our new personal finance GreenLight newsletter can attest to, in these days of skyrocketing interest rates, if you are carrying credit card balances or gobs of variable rate debt, your best investment may actually be in paying down your debt before diving deeper into the market. Setting aside enough money to see you through any financial emergencies should also be a priority before taking advantage of the tempting ticker tape offers.
Tip #4 - Expand your range
Do you own an ETF? Do you even know what an exchange-traded fund is? Are all of your stocks domestic? Can you use a little overseas flavor? Are you too concentrated in a particular sector? That's a natural slant. We love to buy what's familiar. If that industry happened to be one that got battered, rather than direct all your attention to doubling down in one niche, maybe it's time to diversify to make sure that it doesn't happen again.
Have you been getting hammered with stateside dot-com giants? China's leading search engine, Baidu.com
Tip #5 - Look before you leap, but leap
Maybe stocks head lower in August, making the market's bargains even cheaper. Maybe they don't. You don't have to rush your entry points. You do have to rush to start your due diligence so you know exactly what you're getting yourself into.
The markdowns are everywhere. Even gurus have been burned with the steep spring and early summer sell-offs. The worst of the carnage has taken place in the growth stock sector. Take a look at three recent picks in the Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service that have surrendered more than half of their value.
XM Satellite Radio
These aren't perfect picks. Aspect has trimmed its guidance. XM has had a laundry list of stumbles. Openwave? It too had to scale back its outlook. In other words, at least a good chunk of the debacles have been self-inflicted. But a company that hoses down its forecast one quarter may very well come back firing with an air pump the next time around. If any of these stocks can right their wrongs and return to their originally recommended prices, investors would be looking at doubles (or in Openwave's case, nearly a triple).
You may like your growth stocks with fewer blemishes. I hear you. Dig deep and you will find quality companies that have shed 20% to 30% of their value with fewer hurdles to clear to regain their stride. The point is that now is the time to arm yourself with the knowledge of the stocks that will make up your portfolio in a few weeks.
Five tips later, it's all on you
Is that it? That's it. There is sweetness in a sour market. There is shuffling and reshuffling to be done in your portfolio. You've got the money, somewhere. You've got the golden opportunity to broaden your investments. You've got the time to do it right.
That may not be enough to win your way into Wall Street's version of heaven, but it certainly beats doing nothing and settling for investing purgatory. Still need more stock ideas? How about some of the stronger stories that are biding their time on the Rule Breakers scorecard? A 30-day pass can be all yours if you want to kick the newsletter's tires for free this month. You've got the time. Don't hang your portfolio on a wing and a prayer where you are truly blessed with some ridiculous bargains.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz believes in taking chances to earn superior returns. He does own shares in Netflix. eBay and Netflix are Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.