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Where Next For Global Stock Markets?

The Motley FoolThe man would either be hailed as a tactical genius or he would be derided as someone who was one sandwich short of a picnic.

As it turned out, this man’s picnic hamper was packed with enough sandwiches to feed an entire army. The man was, without question, a genius.

I am, of course, referring to the epic World Cup quarter-final game between the Central American underdogs Costa Rica and last year’s finalist, Holland. It was supposed to have been a stroll in the park for the boys in orange.

A cunning stunt

But the match, which remained scoreless after extra time, needed something special to break the deadlock. It was at that moment that the Netherland’s coach, Louis van Gaal, pulled one of the most cunning stunts in football history.

Van Gaal replaced his goalkeeper, who had been majestic between the sticks for 120 minutes, with a substitute ‘keeper just before the start of the penalty shoot-out.

As far as I can remember, nothing this audacious has been attempted ever before. If van Gaal footballing masterstroke worked, penalty shoot-outs are unlikely to be the same ever again.

Meanwhile, back in the studios, commentators, contributors and the know-it-all naysayers were splitting their sides laughing. If finger-pointing was an Olympic sport, they would all be gold-medal contenders.

But as it stands, penalty shoot-outs are unlikely to be the same ever again. The Netherland’s replacement goalkeeper was sublime. He correctly guessed the direction of all five penalties – saving two of them in the process. The Netherlands are now through to the semi-finals thanks to Louis van Gaal’s brilliance.

Backtracking naysayers

In the meantime, the naysaying football pundits were backtracking faster than a kid from a dentist drill.

Thing is, naysayers just can’t help themselves. They were born pessimists.

As far as pessimists are concerned, a glass will always be half empty. Optimists on the other hand, will always see a glass as being half-full. I, on the other hand, just want to know the name of the glassmaker. If there is this much interest in the glass, I want to know who is making it.

Currently, stock market naysayers are out in force after the Dow Jones Industrial Index broke through the 17,000 level. But if truth be known, stock market naysayers never go away.

They were around in 1999 when the Dow Jones rose to 10,000 points for the first time. They were there again in 2006 when the Dow hit 12,000 points. In 2007, they must have been licking their lips when the Dow crossed 13,000 points in April and again in July when the benchmark pierced the 14,000-points level.

Today, they are back again, warning that 17,000 points might be unsustainable for all sorts of reasons.

Thing is, naysayers can be found almost everywhere we look. They linger like a bad smell in a poorly ventilated room. That said, they are entitled to their opinion, in the same way that we are entitled to ours.

50 reasons to hold

But the facts speak louder than opinion.

Currently, the US market is valued at around 16 times earnings. That, admittedly, is hardly bargain-basement territory. But nor is it outrageously expensive.

So, if the US market is not overvalued at 16 times earnings, then our Straits Times Index can hardly be described as overpriced at 13 times earnings too.

The thing to remember is that 17,000 is merely a number. It might be a big number. It might also be an all-time high for the Dow. But that is not a good reason on its own to sell your shares.

If you had succumbed to the naysayers’ warnings in 1999, you would have missed out on an 8-fold increase in Sembcorp Marine (SGX: S51); an 18-fold increase in Boustead Singapore (SGX: F9D) and a 24-fold increase in Jardine Matheson (SGX: J36). Those, for me, are 50 solid reasons not to sell on a market high.

As Peter Lynch once said: “There is always something to worry about. Ignore the latest dire predictions of the newscasters. Sell a stock because the company’s fundamentals deteriorate, not because the sky is falling.

This article first appeared in Take Stock Singapore.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore Director David Kuo doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.