3 Ways to Protect Yourself From Falling Equity Prices

If you’re afraid that stocks are overpriced, you don’t need to sell your holdings. These strategies are more effective ways to reduce your exposure.

| More on:
The Motley Fool
You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s premium investing services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn more

There’s no denying that stocks have been on a great run over the past five years, but one has to wonder how long that can last. It now seems that every other day, there’s a new story about how much stocks are overvalued, and that we’re due for a correction.

Does that mean you should sell all your stocks? No it certainly does not – stocks are meant to be held for the long term, and trying to time the market is usually a losing game. Your weight toward stocks should be based on personal factors like your return objectives, risk tolerance, and time horizon.

But there are still ways to protect yourself, even when staying in the stock market. Below are just three examples.

1. Stable stocks

The simplest strategy is to buy companies with stable businesses that ride out economic cycles with ease. One example is Metro (TSX: MRU), the third largest grocer in Canada. Food, of course, is a product that doesn’t fall off dramatically when times are tough, and likewise doesn’t explode in sales during the good times. As a result, the fortunes of Canada’s grocers aren’t very dependent on the state of the economy. Likewise, their equity prices aren’t going to experience as much volatility as most other stocks.

Furthermore, Metro has been very well run over the past two decades, and as a result its quarterly dividend has been raised every year for the past 19 years.

2. Fairfax

If you think stocks are overpriced, you have something in common with Fairfax Financial Holdings (TSX: FFH) Chairman & CEO Prem Watsa. Due to Mr. Watsa’s pessimism, the insurance conglomerate has a very conservative investment portfolio, with a heavy investment in bonds, and the entire equity portfolio hedged.

It’s a strategy that has cost Mr. Watsa and Fairfax’s other shareholders in recent years as the market has rallied. But one only has to go back to 2008 to see what happens when Fairfax’s pessimism pays off. In that year, Mr. Watsa bet heavily against subprime mortgages, and Fairfax stock increased more than 30% in a year when seemingly every other stock fell off a cliff.

It’s unlikely that something that extreme will happen again any time soon. But if the markets do turn south, Fairfax will surely outperform again.

3. Bear ETFs

This third strategy is the most extreme, but also the most effective. Buying a so-called bear ETF is effectively a bet against equity prices, one that will always be effective if the stock market turns south (unlike the two strategies above). The most popular of these ETFs are the Horizons BetaPro S&P/TSX 60 Inverse ETF (TSX: HIX) and BetaPro S&P 500 Inverse ETF (TSX: HIU).

This strategy is best if you’re holding individual stocks, but want to reduce your overall equity exposure. It’s a lot more effective than selling your stocks; it not only allows you to continue betting on names you believe in, but also saves you from hefty trading costs.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Benjamin Sinclair holds no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this article.

More on Investing

A solar cell panel generates power in a country mountain landscape.
Top TSX Stocks

3 TSX Stocks You Can Hold for the Next 3 Decades

While the market faces significant headwinds, it's crucial to ensure that you can commit to the TSX stocks you're holding…

Read more »

energy oil gas
Dividend Stocks

2 High-Yield Energy Stocks to Buy as Recession Approaches

Energy stocks such as TC Energy and Canadian Natural Resources allow investors to generate income even in recessionary times.

Read more »

green power renewable energy
Dividend Stocks

3 Top Dividend Stocks to Drive Your Passive Income

These three high-yielding, safe dividend stocks could boost your passive income.

Read more »

Dial moving from 4G to 5G
Tech Stocks

TFSA Investors: 2 Canadian Stocks With Unbelievable Staying Power 

Amid economic uncertainty, investors look for stocks that can thrive in any crisis and grow long term. Here are two…

Read more »

protect, safe, trust
Dividend Stocks

TFSA Wealth: How to Earn $363 in Monthly Passive Income for Life

Canadian investors can harness the power of the TFSA to generate steady tax-free passive income for decades.

Read more »

Canadian Dollars
Dividend Stocks

TFSA Millionaire: How to Turn $40,000 Into $1.2 Million for Retirement

Here's how TFSA investors are using the power of compounding to buy top Canadian dividend stocks to build retirement wealth.

Read more »

potted green plant grows up in arrow shape
Stocks for Beginners

3 Superb Income and Growth Stocks for Every Portfolio

The market is full of superb income and growth stocks, but not all belong in your portfolio. Here are three…

Read more »

stock market
Stocks for Beginners

Worried About Stagflation? 2 Canadian Stocks for All Market Cycles 

Stagflation delays economic recovery. You can keep your portfolio stagflation ready with these Canadian stocks that are suitable for all…

Read more »