Stocks have seen some wild price swings over the past couple of years; sometimes it feels more like a casino than a market. Emotions can play a big role in how stocks behave day to day, even though a company’s growth and financials are what typically drive investment returns over the long term.
In fact, famous investor Peter Lynch once declared that the stomach, not the brain, is the most important organ for investing in the stock market. In other words, how an investor handles volatility can have a lot to do with how their portfolio performs. There is no free lunch on Wall Street; here is why you’ve got to embrace the ups and downs if you want to score big returns.
Today’s blue chip stocks weren’t smooth rides
Investors hold up companies like Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) as no-brainer winners that investors can buy with confidence. The tremendous wealth these stocks have created has a lot to do with that. Imagine one made hypothetical investments of $10,000 into each company’s IPO. Over these stocks’ lifetimes, those investments would be worth:
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- Amazon: $13.0 million
- Apple: $15.9 million
- Tesla: $1.7 million
Investors anchor to the cumulative success of these stocks but often don’t realize how stressful the journey was along the way. To enjoy the wealth that Amazon created for investors, one would have had to endure a more than 90% decline during the dot-com crash in the early 2000s. Shares fell so much that Jeff Bezos started his 2001 shareholder letter with the word ouch.
Apple is the largest winner of these three, but investors had to endure three declines of more than 75% and several others of at least 50% over the years. Remember, Apple wasn’t Apple back in the early 2000s; investors likely felt their stomachs churn, seeing their investment repeatedly lose most of its value. But those who sold likely never saw the long-term rewards that followed the hard times.
Consider Tesla, one of the most controversial companies on Wall Street, having almost as many die-hard critics as shareholders. Tesla stock will fall 30% to 40% routinely; one wouldn’t blame an investor for succumbing to the constant chatter and noise around the company. But that volatility was the price paid for the explosive returns over the past three years.
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