Last year was a year many investors would like to forget. The New York Times lists some of the details:
“The final, grim tally only confirmed what investors had known for months: it was a very bad year to own stocks, any stocks — indeed, one of the worst ever.
“In a mere 12 months, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 4,488.43 points, or 33.8 percent, its most punishing loss since 1931. Blue chips like Bank of America, Citigroup and Alcoa lost more than 65 percent of their value. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index sank 39.5 percent, almost exactly matching its decline in 1937.
“All told, about $7 trillion of shareholders’ wealth — the gains of the last six years — was wiped out in a year of violent market swings.
“But what is striking is not just the magnitude of the declines, staggering as they are, but also their breadth. All but two of the 30 Dow industrials, Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, fell by more than 10 percent. Almost no industry was spared as the crisis that first emerged in the subprime mortgage market metastasized and the economy sank into what could be a long recession.”
As depressing as those numbers are, I continue to be optimistic for 2009, especially for fundamentally superior stocks.