Will the bad news ever end? Eventually, sure -- but if you're lucky, it'll last a while longer first.

Right now, investors fall into two main camps. Some investors -- likely a growing number, given the recent layoffs at a host of companies across the country -- desperately need to take money from their portfolios in order to make ends meet. Those who've patiently waited for a rebound haven't seen any relief, and there's no end in sight that will restore their lost profits anytime soon.

But a larger group, while having suffered losses in the market, still have money they'll need to invest in the coming months and years between now and when they retire. If you're among this group, you need to consider: Would you rather see times get better right away, or would you actually be better off if the bad news keeps coming?

Keep those prices low
Most investors would much prefer to see a recovery take hold sooner than later. Apart from wanting to see friends who've lost their jobs or their homes get some relief, seeing your portfolio rise for a change always makes you feel good, especially after a long bear market.

On the other hand, if you're a long-term investor and are convinced that even companies hit hard by the current downturn will recover over time, there's a good reason why you might prefer to put that recovery on hold: Low share prices let you keep adding to your investments cheaply, giving you the chance to reap more profits later.

Consider, for instance, the following companies:

Stock

Revenue Growth

Earnings Growth

1-Year Return

Heinz (NYSE:HNZ)

3.5%

21.9%

(8.4%)

Clorox (NYSE:CLX)

11.7%

15.3%

(11.8%)

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)

5.8%

1.5%

(29.4%)

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN)

18.2%

8.7%

(14%)

Nike (NYSE:NKE)

5.8%

8.8%

(22.6%)

Fastenal (NASDAQ:FAST)

5%

11.3%

(12.5%)

Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO)

9.1%

14.3%

(24%)

Source: Yahoo! Finance. Growth rates are year-over-year for most recent quarter available.

Each of these companies has managed to continue growing revenue and earnings over the past year, despite the tanking economy and plummeting stock market. Yet even these rock-solid businesses haven't managed to avoid seeing their shares lose a fair chunk of their value.

Negative mentality
Moreover, even great businesses will likely take additional hits if the economy doesn't recover soon. Much of the responsibility for that lies with institutional investors. When big money managers like hedge funds and mutual funds need to raise money, they simply have to sell whatever they can -- even stocks whose prospects they really like.

Those institutions continue to feel pressure from investor redemptions. According to one source, hedge funds saw investors pull out nearly $400 billion in assets during 2008. Meanwhile, stock mutual funds continued seeing outflows in December, continuing a trend that has persisted since the market's plunge began last July.

If you have the time
Yet many of the factors pushing stocks down have little to do with the fundamental business prospects for companies. While many businesses will have to transform themselves to adapt to new economic conditions, some companies simply need to keep doing what they do best and avoid distractions.

As long as strong companies stick to their guns, investors can feel confident loading up on shares in the coming months. For them, the longer the overall malaise lasts, the longer they'll have to scoop up bargains among stocks -- bargains that may prove to give them the best returns they ever earn.

So if you have some time before you need to start spending down your investment portfolio, don't let bad economic news get you down. By keeping the stocks you want to buy cheap, you may be able to maximize your long-term investing profits.

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Fool contributor Dan Caplinger knows he should hope for more bad news, but it's still tough to take. He doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. Heinz is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Coca-Cola is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Amazon.com and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Procter & Gamble. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool's disclosure policy always gives you good news.