J.P. Morgan chief global strategist David Kelly. J.P. Morgan chief global strategist David Kelly. (Photo: Jim Tweedie)

Investors should remember that despite the turmoil in the markets, “we will get past this,” says David Kelly, the chief global strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

He’s referring, of course, to the roughly 30% decline in U.S. stock prices over the past three years. “2020 is the year of the virus; 2021 will be the year of recovery,” said Kelly during a recent webinar, noting that investors should prepare to weather the storm and take advantage of the rebound.

With that approach in mind, Kelly offered five key investing principles that stock investors should consider now:

1. Recognize that stocks are long-term investments. They may not have fully priced how low they will go yet, but they tend to overprice at the top and the bottom. “There’s no reason they can’t recover once we get past COVID-19,” said Kelly.

2. Recognize that the market has already derisked investors. A 60/40 portfolio going into the current downturn is now close to 53/47.

3. Look at valuation gaps. Valuation abnormalities that existed before the selloff still exist today. Value stocks are cheap relative to growth and cheaper at any time since 2001, and international stocks are still cheap relative to U.S. stocks. 

4. Think about income. The yield on the S&P 500 is 2.6%, versus about 1.2% on the 10-year Treasury note. “For most of our lifetimes Treasury yields were significantly higher,” Kelly said. Now stock dividend yields paying more income than bond yields argues for investors to not be overly cautious when needing income in the long run.

5. Active managers should do well during this period. They can navigate among those securities and sectors that will be the winners and the losers as the world lives through social distancing, which is crushing the economy now and will change behavior in the future. Health care, online retail and telecom stocks are the winners; travel, entertainment, restaurants, energy and retail brick-and-mortar stores the losers. “Some [of those losers] will come back. Some will accelerate their relative decline.”

Kelly’s colleague John Bilton, head of global strategy for the multi-asset solutions team at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, also participated in the webinar and noted, “When we come through the market correction that’s where opportunities will exist, and being invested will be crucial.”

At that point equities will be the asset of choice because losses in credit markets will linger and bond income will still be low, Bilton said. He added, however, “It’s probably too early” to take advantage of equity opportunities.

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