The violence of the last week's market moves have obscured a key point.
This was a correction, not a crash.
Corrections happen. Markets get ahead of themselves. They go down to wash out some of the speculation and find their footing.
Crashes happen, too, just not as often. And these are truly scary. Unlike corrections, they can be forever, or at least as far as your life, career and investments might see. Japan's market peaked at over 37,000 in 1987. It's now fighting 9,000. The Dow recovered from the 1929 crash in the mid-1950s, but the investors who lost were not made whole.
When you hit a correction you buy. When a crash comes you had better throw in your hand.
What we've just gone through is a correction. At its Thursday close the Dow was down 11% for the week. That's a correction, not a crash.
So what do you buy, and what do you buy with? This is where the cash you squirreled away in the good times comes in handy. Liquid funds of all kinds – like short-term government notes – should now be looking to go to work, because the government has signaled that the rates it pays are going to stay low for as long as possible.
Now is the time to get out your wish list, your list of the companies you wish you'd bought back in the day. Don't go looking for little speculative plays. The best of America is on sale, and that's what you want to buy.
Here's my list::
Berkshire-Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.B) – These shares were up past $87 in February, but you can now catch them at under $72. Warren Buffett says he's buying, so this is also a proxy for buying. Know, however, that Berkshire is now more of a conglomerate than an investor. Does the old Wizard still know how to pick managers? Does he have a new successor lined up, one who isn't dealing from the bottom of the deck? I think so. If you're rolling in cash, consider the $107,000 (NYSE:BRK.A).
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) – As trading opened this morning you could buy Apple Inc. at a price-earnings multiple of under 15. That's reasonable. And with their notoriously-huge cash hoard, you're even getting that multiple at a discount. But jump fast, because this bargain may be gone by day's end.
Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) – Goldman has been getting taken out and beaten all year. It's down 30% for the year in a market that's lost just one-tenth that much. At its current price you get in for a price-earnings multiple of just 11.67, and the yield beats a three-year treasury note. By a lot.
General Motors (NYSE:GM) – Last time I mentioned GM I was hammered by critics who noted that they paid back their bail-out with bail-out money. Politically, bad. Financially, good. This is not Fox News, this is about making money. There will be growth in autos, especially on the high-mileage end, and the new GM is positioned to that growth. Plus the price multiple is still under six. If it still smells bad, Ford (NYSE:F) is almost as cheap.
Other Seeking Alpha authors are pounding the table to buy. I haven't analyzed all their ideas, but the general thrust is a good one.
Buy now, these deals won't last long.
Disclosure: I am long F.