Unless you are a hermit living in a very remote cave, I’m sure you’re aware of the coronavirus pandemic.
And if you have any interest in investing, then you also probably know that stock markets around the globe have suffered what can only be described as a stock market crash.
Crash is a strong word, but with the FTSE 100 falling 26% (from 7,500 to 5,500) in less than a month it’s hard to call it anything else.
Technically speaking we are now in a bear market, which is somewhat arbitrarily defined as a decline of more than 20% from recent highs.
What does this mean for investors? Should we sell now and hide under a rock, or is there some alternative?
Before we do anything too hasty, let’s look at valuations.
As I write, the FTSE 100 is close to 5,500. That gives it a CAPE ratio (cyclically adjusted PE) of 11.3, well below its average value over the last 30 years of 18.4.
In fact, the FTSE 100’s CAPE ratio is now lower than at any time in the last 30 years, other than at the very bottom of the 2009 crash.
As for the FTSE 100’s dividend yield, it’s fractionally over 6%.
So with valuations at what I would conservatively call “cheap”, what should investors do?
Obviously I can’t tell you what to do, but I know what I’m going to do:
I’m going to keep putting money into the stock market on a regular basis
I’m going to keep looking for high yield, high quality stocks
I’m going to keep focusing on where economies and businesses might be in five or ten years
I’m going to keep ignoring day-to-day volatility
In short, I’m going to keep calm and carry on investing.
To some people that will sound crazy, but here are the assumptions I’m working under:
Coronavirus has a mortality rate of less than 5%, so it isn’t going to be the end of the world.
Within five years I think it’s likely that a) a reasonably successful vaccine will have been developed, approved and deployed, or b) the virus will be so commonplace that most people will have either had it and survived or will have just gotten used to living in a post-coronavirus world.