5 Things You Should Do If the Dow Hits 20,000

The Dow’s milestone could have unintended consequences for investors if they aren’t careful.

With just a little more than a week to go before we close the book on 2016, one thing investors will certainly be able to say is this was an exciting year (and probably a profitable one for many).

The year began with the worst two-week losses ever recorded by the major U.S. indexes. By mid-February, all three indexes, including the famed Dow Jones Industrial Average(DJINDICES:^DJI), were down by a double-digit percentage, and the prospect of an end to the seven-year bull market looked possible. However, all three indexes have since galloped higher, with the 14.6% year-to-date gain in the Dow being arguably the biggest bright spot for investors.

Five things to do if the Dow hits 20,000

However, the Dow may not be done yet. Since the election, U.S. stocks have been on fire and the Dow has been taking down one record high after another. With just days left before we ring in the New Year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average sits just 25 points away from eclipsing the in-focus 20,000-point mark. Considering that the Dow was at just 6,500 in March 2009, the fact that we’re event talking about Dow 20,000 as a possibility less than eight years later is truly incredible.

But, the possibility of hitting this milestone in America’s oldest stock index could also have unintended consequences if investors aren’t mindful of their actions and emotions. If the Dow does hit 20,000, there are five things you should do as an investor:

  • Realize
  • Understand
  • Avoid
  • Reassess
  • Consider

Senior Reading Financial News Investing Getty

1. Realize this is arbitrary

The first thing investors need to realize is that Dow 20,000 is a completely arbitrary number made up by the media and Wall Street analysts. Though investors are eager to change the first digit on the Dow to a “2,” the Dow has hit more than a dozen record high closings just since the Nov. 8 election. We could just as easily be celebrating Dow 19,954, or Dow 19,978, or any number randomly pulled out of a hat. In short, realize that Dow 20,000 is just a number – one of many in the Dow’s impressive march higher since the Great Recession.

2. Understand that the market heads higher over the long term

Secondly, investors should understand that the Dow rallying higher really isn’t outside of its historic norm. Historically, the stock market averages a 7% gain per year inclusive of dividend reinvestment. Though it’ll have its bad years mixed in with the good, stock valuations (of good companies) tend to increase over time.

The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) provides additional evidence of this. According to Yardeni Research, the S&P 500 has had 35 corrections of 10% or more, when rounded to the nearest whole number, since 1950. Yet, every single one of these 35 corrections has been completely erased by a bull market rally. It can sometimes take years to erase a stock market correction, but long-term investors understand that over time the market tends to head higher, which favors patient long-term investors.

3. Avoid selling great stocks just because of a milestone

Third, investors should strongly avoid selling stocks from their investment or retirement portfolio just because the Dow has hit an arbitrary milestone, or because certain Wall Street pundits have suggested that “valuations are extended” or stocks are “overvalued.” The management of your investments could probably care less whether the Dow is at 15,000 or 20,000. They’re solely focused on growing their business and outpacing their competition, and that’s where your focus should be too. Stock index valuations have nothing to do with the valuations of your individual companies, meaning Dow 20,000 should have no bearing on the business activity of your stock holdings.

Man Working On Finances At Home Laptop Budget Getty

4. Reassess your holdings

However, Dow 20,000 could be a good time to reassess your portfolio holdings and review the main reasons why you bought the stocks you own in the first place. You certainly don’t need Dow 20,000 to do so, as you should be regularly reassessing the stocks you own and determining if your buy thesis remains intact. Should your buy thesis no longer hold true (e.g., a changing business model, new competition that makes a core product of your company inferior, a management scandal, and so on), then it could be time to consider parting ways with your stock(s).

5. Consider adding dividend stocks as a hedge

Finally, investors should probably consider adding dividend stocks to their portfolio as a hedge should the short-term-minded stock analysts be right about a stock market correction. Not only can dividend stocks help hedge your downside during a correction, but they tend to outperform non-dividend-paying stocks over the long run anyway, meaning they’re a potentially good buy regardless of whether the market is going up, down, or is flat. As an added bonus, recurring dividends are often the mark of companies with time-tested business models, meaning they’re usually a beacon of sustainable profits for investors.

Trump’s potential $1.6 trillion investment
We aren’t politicos here at The Motley Fool. But we know a great investing opportunity when we see one.

Our analysts spotted what could be a $1.6 trillion opportunity lurking in Donald Trump’s infrastructure plans. And given this team’s superb track record (more than tripling the market over the past decade*), you don’t want to miss what they found.

They’ve picked 11 stocks poised to profit from Trump’s first 100 days as president. History has shown that getting in early on a good idea can often pay big bucks – so don’t miss out on this moment.

Click here to get access to the full list!

*Stock Advisor returns as of January 3, 2017

Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

You May Also Like

Pride Week Festival Begins With Tribute to Pulse Nightclub Survivor

Miami Beach Pride’s week-long festivities will commence with a special tribute to the LGBTQ+ community honoring the victims of the tragic shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. A ceremonial “flip the switch” lighting event will illuminate the iconic 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage in pride colors as a sign of solidarity. It is the second

Surfside luxury condo sees notable sales

Arte at Surfside is making waves. There’s, of course, the news that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are renting at the 16-resident luxury condominium. And there’s the December penthouse sale for $33 million. But other sales are heating up the oceanfront property at 8955 Collins Ave. developed by Alex Sapir and Giovanni Fasciano (both pictured

Up in the Air: A Discussion

In a dynamic region where residents are typically on the move, everyone is wondering about the health of the airline industry and the safety of airports and airplanes. Everyone is eagerly looking for signs about when air travel will begin to normalize. Against this backdrop of COVID-19, South Florida Business & Wealth organized a virtual

South Florida Yachting Legend Passes

Robert “Bob” Roscioli, an icon in the South Florida marine industry, has passed away. Many recognize the name Roscioli from the widely-successful and world-renowned Roscioli Yachting Center, a full service shipyard catering to South Florida’s marine industry. Bob built this business as a passion project, and because of his attention to detail and unique skill,

Other Posts

Four key steps

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text] What a crazy time we are all experiencing. Right now, getting back to basics is most important. It is not and will not be business as usual right away. As leaders, you need to do the right thing to create an atmosphere of support with processes.

Pandemic adds to worries about hurricane season

An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. The outlook predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from

The difference between leading and managing

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text] Leadership and management are often misunderstood as one in the same. They are not. Certainly, a good leader should be able to manage and vice versa. But, it is important to understand the difference. Both are important to the success of an organization. The key difference

Flattening the housing curve in a pandemic

By Josh Migdal In the classic film Groundhog Day (and yes, it is a classic), Bill Murray’s character wakes up over and over again in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, reliving the same day for (presumably) eternity. Every morning, the alarm goes off at 6 a.m. playing I Got You Babe, assuring both the protagonist and the viewer