Financial Freedom

The Five-Step Market-Beating Formula for Successful Investing

The Five-Step Market-Beating Formula for Successful Investing

by Dr. Mark Skousen, Contributing Editor
Thursday, July 29, 2010: Issue #1312

If you want sound, classic investment advice, you’ve come to right place.

The lessons you’re about to learn are timeless and straightforward… but sadly, hardly ever followed.

What’s more, the financial crisis has actually substantiated this man’s classic formula for successful investing.

The formula I’m talking about comes from Burt Malkiel, finance professor at Princeton and author of the classic, A Random Walk Down Wall Street. You may recall that Alexander Green recapped his FreedomFest debate with Burton Malkiel on July 12…

As host of the annual FreedomFest event in Las Vegas, I’d invited Malkiel to participate in two sessions. One was at a luncheon, with his excellent speech, entitled: “My 40 Years Walk Down Wall Street: Timeless Lessons.” I highly recommend you get a copy for only $5 (call: 866.254.2057 for details on how to order the CD).

Malkiel’s other speech was entitled, “Can You Beat the Market?” This was what Alex talked about in his column here a few weeks ago. And with good reason – as Malkiel’s five rules illustrate…

Five Simple Steps to Beat the Market

Here’s Burt Malkiel’s five-step market-beating formula:

  1. There’s No Need to Time the Market: Plain and simple, buying and selling in the short run doesn’t work over the long term. We talk about this frequently in Investment U. In order to make market timing work, you have to be right most of the time when you buy and sell. The vast majority of investors can’t do that consistently. And besides, you don’t need to time the market to be successful.
  2. Use Dollar-Cost Averaging: Malkiel showed that dollar-cost averaging actually does better in a volatile market (like now) than in a steadily rising one. He cited an example: If you invested $1,000 a year for five years, you’d have $6,167 in a volatile (bear-bull) market versus only $5,915 in a steadily rising market.
  3. Rebalance Your Portfolio Annually: Malkiel found that from January 1996 until December 2009, annual rebalancing between a stock and bond index provided lower volatility and higher returns. The best strategy is to sell your portfolio’s big winners and buy its biggest losers once a year.
  4. Diversify, Diversify, Diversify: It sounds obvious, but diversification is crucial. Malkiel argues that simple diversification increases your returns with less risk (volatility). He uses the following extremely conservative portfolio: 50% bond fund, 25% stock index fund and 25% international stock index fund.
  5. Cost Matters: The vast majority of actively managed accounts underperform the market indexes over the long run, especially because they cost more to run. So use non-actively managed index funds by the cheapest fund company – Vanguard.

Putting it All Together

Putting all the parts of Malkiel’s formula together – index funds, dollar-cost averaging, rebalancing and diversification – he revealed the following chart to illustrate how a conservative investor would fare during the “lost decade” (2000-2010) when the stock market fell.

Burton G. Malkiel Shows How Conservative Investors Faired During The Lost Decade

So let’s say you started with a $100,000 portfolio in January 2000.

You allocate your assets in the following way: 50% in a bond index, 25% in a U.S. stock index and 25% in an international stock index.

If you added $1,000 per month over the 10 years, you’d have invested a total of $220,000. With annual rebalancing and diversifying, you’d have a portfolio valued at $250,000 in 10 years.

Thus, by dollar cost averaging, rebalancing and diversifying, you’re ahead of the game in the “lost decade” when the overall stock market declined.

Good trading – AEIOU,

Mark Skousen

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