Friday, February 16, 2007

Yes, but who has the patience to wait until 2022?

Yes, but who has the patience to wait until 2022?

By Ami Ginsburg

Nine hundred percent in 15 years is the yield of investment of the Tel Aviv 100 index in January 1992, when the index stood at 100 points, until February 14, 2007, when it first crossed the four-digit line.

Nine hundred percent makes for an annual average of 15.7 percent. If we deduct the rate of inflation during this period, an average of 5.2 percent annually, the average real yield on investment in the Tel Aviv stock exchange was 10.5-11 percent yearly. Would you like such a yield on your own savings? It's safe to say that the answer is yes.

And just think about all the upheavals Israel and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange have undergone. Two bubbles, two wars, six elections, seven prime ministers and about the same number of finance ministers.

And despite it all, whoever put their money in the TASE 15 years ago and left it there, increased their investment ten-fold. Why? Because the stock exchange has rules of its own, and is more closely related to the performance of companies than it is to the identities of prime ministers and finance ministers.

And now for a secret. On the average, over time, stock markets go up, and earn more, than any other investment.

The recipe for profiting from the market is a simple one: You need to stick around for a long time. Through bad times and good. This is true not only for the Israeli market. Had someone invested in the Dow Jones index, for instance, in 1992, rather than the TA-100, he would have earned a nice annual yield of 15.5 percent. One anomaly is the Japanese stock market, which earned its investors an average yield of only 4 percent.

With stocks there is also a risk of no earnings at all, even over an extended period. This is precisely the reason to spread your investment portfolio. In a well-spread portfolio, the meager earnings of the Japanese stock exchange would hardly be noticeable.

Beyond patience and self-discipline, you need to cultivate conservatism in investment in shares as well, and not be seduced by fads. It's not always easy to recognize a financial bubble, but sometimes they just scream out, and one need only listen.

Just to clarify, the Israeli market is showing no signs of a financial bubble. Not at all. But price levels are not low. On a stock market that goes up 230 percent in four years on a regular basis, even when the increases are backed up by real, solid economic data, it's worthwhile to be careful. It could keep going up, but it may begin to fluctuate more.

The long-term perspective shows that at times like this, it doesn't hurt to take a conservative position. It can't hurt to spread stock investments over various countries. Even if you have the patience to wait until 2022.

from HaAretz Newspaper