How to prepare for a bear market

  • Describe the background to the current bull market.
  • List how clients can prepare for a potential bear market when it comes.
  • Identify what type of companies will do well in a bear market and which to avoid.

We bought Vodafone after it slashed its dividend and the share price took a tumble to bring it to something resembling fair value.

Mobile phones have now become an essential for most people. They have replaced landlines.

Even in a downturn they should still make money. The company is now on around 16x earnings and generating 6 per cent yield.

In Japan, Nippon Telephone offers similar appeal.

How does this compare with the glamour stocks?

Facebook, on 23x earnings, has no yield. Similarly, Amazon, Apple and Google (Fang) – all on saucy P/Es – offer low dividends and are under scrutiny from global regulators.

It is nice to have some growth potential and glamour, but you need cockroach stocks too.

5.     Go global

Still too many British investors are over-exposed to the UK economy.

It represents less than 6 per cent of the MSCI Global index, but many will have the majority of their equity exposure rooted here.

Those falling prey to home bias claim that lots of British large-caps are global companies, so they have international exposure.

They say that holding British stocks reduces currency risk – the companies themselves manage this.

But they remain exposed to Brexit risk and miss out on the best growth opportunities elsewhere.

We may worry about Fang stock valuations now, but have invested in most of them at some point in recent years and enjoyed the benefits.

The London Stock Exchange offers no equivalents.

It is the same with automation stocks – the companies making robot technology for factories and warehouses. The best of these are found in Japan.

6.     Sail with the wind behind you

If you go global you can seize opportunities and reduce risk.

By backing investment global growth themes, you double down on that strategy.

You buy companies in areas of the global market that have the wind in their sails and are less vulnerable to recession.

Examples of such fields might include healthcare costs (playing on the need for affordable healthcare for an ageing population), automation (companies looking to reduce labour costs, especially if they are being forced to re-shore production to the US) and emerging market consumer (backing companies that can benefit from the growing middle class in many emerging countries).

7.     Beware of cyclicals

Avoiding cyclicals is another way of reducing your exposure to stocks that might struggle in a downturn – that means companies like housebuilders and travel agents.  

8.     Don’t leave yourself over-exposed

Be wary of managers with large exposure to a small number of stocks.

No company is immune from a sudden shock – a fraud, an unexpected PR crisis or a harmful tweet from the American President who is awake too late and bored.

When you have only 2.5 per cent in any one company, if things go horribly wrong for one of your stocks it is not the end of the world for your portfolio.


Please answer the six multiple choice questions below in order to bank your CPD. Multiple attempts are available until all questions are correctly answered.

  1. The author lists three things that "kill bull markets". Which one of the below is the odd one out?

  2. During the first hour after the EU referendum result was declared, the FTSE 100 fell by what percentage to 5,800?

  3. What does the author call the sort of stock that can survive the worst of storms?

  4. The article states UK investors say that holding British stocks reduces what?

  5. Companies with lots of debt are vulnerable if interest rates rise and the economy falters. True or false?

  6. The author says modern companies do not need as much what as they used to, even in the growth phase?

Nearly There…

You have successfully answered all the questions correctly, well done!

You should now know…

  • Describe the background to the current bull market.
  • List how clients can prepare for a potential bear market when it comes.
  • Identify what type of companies will do well in a bear market and which to avoid.

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