The Dividend Investing Resource Center

Letting Dividends Do Their Work

Reflections on a Down Day

George L Smyth

My noontime routine involves pouring Coke over ice, putting my sandwich and bag of Doritos on my desk, and seeing what happened in the world that morning. During lunch on April 4, 2000, I took note that although the market had taken a dive the previous day, it was currently in the process of swimming to the bottom.

I decided to write down a few things that had come to mind. The remainder of this article was written between bites of my sandwich and wiping mustard from my lips.

As I sit eating my lunch and watching the happenings in the market, the Nasdaq, which dropped like a rock yesterday, is now acting like a rock weighted with an even larger rock. The entire index is down more than 13% so far, which affects me because most of my outright purchases are Nasdaq stocks.

From my portfolio, I see that America Online, Cisco, and Commerce One are down by more than 10%, and Ariba is down by 9%, despite the fact that they just announced the expectation that revenues will be 25-30% higher than analyst estimates.

I have a feeling that I am in the same boat as many other people, although I believe that many of them are jumping ship. Fortunately, I will not be needing the money from the outright purchase portion of my portfolio for a number of years, so I get to ride things out without feeling the need to sell at what may be the low point.

The worst may be for folks who, despite hearing the warnings, decided to purchase on margin. For many of them, margin calls will require that their stocks be sold at the absolute worst time possible, and the losses they incur may not be recoverable for a long time.

So go things in the real world.

Looking at my Drip portfolio, I note that today appears to be one of those days when the market seems to be mad at everyone. My "old economy" selections are either showing their heads slightly above water or just under the surface. My "new economy" selections are either getting slammed or worse, as Schwab has plummeted by more than 20%.

My outright purchase stocks are pretty much set. I purchased them, I have a plan for them, and they will be sold at the appropriate time. With fingers crossed, when I need the money, they will have recovered to the point where I can claim them to have been a proper investment. There's not much beyond that.

My Drip selections, however, are another story. Today's flow of red ink has little effect on that portfolio. Sure, I can note that Intel is currently down more than 10% and Enron has fallen close to 15%, but these look more like buying opportunities to me -- and I can afford to make my regular purchases. They have excellent futures, and that is where my portfolio lies, not in the here and now.

Unlike my outright purchases, my Drips comprise a living portfolio. A living portfolio means that its face will continually change. Unlike my outright purchases, which remain stagnant in their composition, my Drip portfolio will have a slightly different mix next month, the following month, and the month after that. The holes I find in the logic that brought the portfolio to its current point can be corrected through the regular, patient purchases I have planned.

Friday is the seventh of the month, which is the day I send the checks out for my monthly Drip purchases. My focus at this point is not the value to which my portfolio has dropped, but how many shares my checks will purchase. Whereas most investors are wringing their hands in worry, my concern is whether the purchase dates will come before or after recovery. If before, I win with more shares; if after, I win through the recovery itself. Thank goodness I don't have to worry about this, as I have two projects here at work that need my full attention this afternoon.

This website is maintained by George L Smyth