Why a Share Price Slump Does Not Always Mean Buy

Disciplined investors always urge others to buy on the dips - but not all stock market falls create buying opportunities

Dan Kemp 7 January, 2019 | 3:08PM
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Dan Kemp: There did not seem to be much Christmas spirit in capital markets in December with most share prices falling between 3% and 8% over the month. In these situations, investors naturally look for stories to explain the falls, while market commentators seek to make headlines by making bold predictions about the year ahead.

We don’t have a crystal ball at Morningstar Investment Management and are naturally suspicious about stories that neatly fit recent market movements, as both approaches tend to encourage the behavioural biases that can lead to poor investment decisions. Instead we focus on identifying assets that appear to be currently priced differently to a reasonable expectation of their long-term returns. As we look at the world through this valuation-driven lens, a few things become clear.

The first is that a discount is not the same as a bargain. Savvy shoppers venturing into the ‘January sales’ focus on purchases they need that are priced unusually cheaply. A discount on the previous price does not necessarily mean that something is cheap or desirable. Don’t be that shopper that spends too much on something you don’t need. To put this in an investment context, US shares are certainly cheaper than they were but do not appear to us to offer good value.

Second, the best bargains appear when something becomes unpopular and the seller simply wants to get rid of it to make way for the latest fashions. There appear to be few assets less popular than UK shares at the moment and while they could not yet be described as a bargain, they are certainly more attractive than most other asset classes as investors focus on the downside of Brexit rather than the long-term opportunities afforded by the underlying companies.

Finally, remember that discounts are never a one-time event. Capital markets don’t have ‘closing down’ sales. As a long-term investor, you never have to pay more than an asset is worth as you will always have an opportunity to buy it at a more attractive price. To do so requires the ability to think independently and be prepared to pick up bargains that others overlook.


The information contained within is for educational and informational purposes ONLY. It is not intended nor should it be considered an invitation or inducement to buy or sell a security or securities noted within nor should it be viewed as a communication intended to persuade or incite you to buy or sell security or securities noted within. Any commentary provided is the opinion of the author and should not be considered a personalised recommendation. The information contained within should not be a person's sole basis for making an investment decision. Please contact your financial professional before making an investment decision.

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Dan Kemp

Dan Kemp  is Chief Investment Officer, Morningstar Investment Management EMEA

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