Tags: Bogle | market | nervous | Dow

Bogle: Market Makes Me Nervous, Dow 14,000 Just ‘Noise’

Monday, 04 Feb 2013 12:44 PM

By Dan Weil

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Vanguard Group founder John Bogle isn’t too excited about the stock market rally that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 14,000 last week.

Indeed, he thinks it’s worrisome that individual investors are plowing into the market after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has risen 125 percent from its March 2009 lows. “The market makes me nervous on the short term probably all the time,” Bogle tells CNBC.

As for Dow 14,000, that’s “just numbers, a little noise in the market.” He points out that while the Dow, now at 13,903, is approaching its 2007 record high of 14,198, the Nasdaq Composite Index is doing nothing of the kind.

Editor's Note: The ‘Unthinkable’ Could Happen — Wall Street Journal. Prepare for Meltdown

The Nasdaq stands at 3,158, down from its all-time peak of 5,132 in March 2000. “It all depends what you're watching, what kind of stocks you own,” Bogle says. The rally of the 1990s was concentrated in the technology industry, whereas now industrial stocks are more part of the party.

While Apple was a huge contributor to the rise of major indices last year, it’s a detractor this year. Yet the market continues to climb, Bogle points out. “It’s kind of a jungle of numbers.”

As for the timing of individual investors, “the time to get bullish was when it [the market] was bearish in February of 2009,” Bogle says. “And the market has gone up 100 percent since then. So they've missed a great opportunity.”

Individual investors get too hung up with short-term market moves, Bogle notes. “They should realize that instead of guessing whether it's going to go down 50 percent or up 100 percent, they should just be investing all the time. Ride through those currents. Stay the course.

When it comes to rebalancing your portfolio, Bogle recommends refraining from doing so, unless your allocations are way out of whack.

“If you want to be in a 60 percent equity position, for example, I wouldn't bother rebalancing it when it goes to 61 or 62 or even 65 percent,” he explains. “Maybe at 70 percent you might think about getting back toward 60 gradually. I'm a gradual mover.”

The most important tactic is to “invest regularly whether you think the market is high or low,” Bogle adds. Rebalancing will be expensive in the long-term, because stocks will outperform bonds. So rebalancing isn’t something you should do “slavishly,” he says.

Asked about the payroll tax increase that began Jan. 1, Bogle downplayed the importance of a single factor like that in the market’s performance.

He says he can’t predict the market for the short term. “So my way of doing things has been for years to look out 10 years,” he states. “That means ignoring six to eight months, ignoring the change in the tax. There are always a lot of factors out there that could be helpful or harmful.”

Among those who focus on the short term, some are cautious, just like Bogle. “The stock market is vulnerable to a short-term pullback,” Patrick Spencer, head of U.S. equity sales at Robert Baird in London, tells Bloomberg.

“I would certainly be cautious. It’s a little overbought. Earnings numbers were more about cost-cutting than top-line, so while I do agree that momentum is coming back, in terms of growth, I’m not as optimistic.”

Editor's Note: The ‘Unthinkable’ Could Happen — Wall Street Journal. Prepare for Meltdown

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