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How to Take Advantage of the Recent Market Plunge

Since the beginning of April 2015, the TSX has declined about 16%, and on Monday August 24th, the TSX plunged 3% in a single day, marking the largest decline in four years. This leads to the next logical question—where does the market go from here?

Unfortunately, this is a difficult question to answer, but fortunately for investors, the answer doesn’t matter. The current bull market is nearly seven years old, and with the average bull market lasting about four years, the TSX is due to let off some steam. While we are not technically in a bear market, corrections like the one we are currently experiencing are a natural part of investing.

In fact, a 10% correction is estimated to occur every year (on average), with a 15% correction occurring every two years. A full-on bear market (where prices drop over 20%) happens every four years. While timing the market to sell at peaks may sound wise, this is usually a losing proposition. Instead, the historically successful approach is to take advantage of dips to buy shares in companies that are both undervalued and poised to do well in the current weak economic climate.

In this regard Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (TSX:BAM.A)(NYSE:BAM) fits the bill.

What not to do during market plunges

Before examining buying opportunities to take advantage of the plunge, it is just as important (if not more so) to know what not to do. Quite simply, selling is what not to do (unless something fundamental has changed with one of the businesses you own). The reason is simple: markets are incredibly difficult to predict, and selling at the wrong time could mean missing out on substantial gains and solidifying losses.

Instead of betting on what the market will do (which is a highly risky proposition), it is much easier to choose an approach that is almost certain to work over time—holding and taking advantage of dips to buy good businesses for cheap.

Since 1956 there have been 11 bear markets and 11 bull markets, but each and every time the bull markets have greatly exceeded the bear markets both in returns, and in length. The average bear market has lost 27% over an average of 14 months, whereas the average bull market has gained 154% over an average of 50 months. Simply staying invested over the past 40 years would have resulted in a 58 times increase in your original investment.

In other words, based on history you are much more likely to gain by holding and adding to great businesses than you are to time the market, hoping to miss out on losses and buying back in before gains occur.

Brookfield Asset Management presents an attractive opportunity today

While using the recent dip to buy businesses at a temporary discount is wise, it is important to buy businesses that are not only fundamentally strong, but poised to do well in the current low-growth, high-risk global economy.

Brookfield meets these requirements. Brookfield owns property, renewable energy, private equity, and infrastructure assets globally. Owning Brookfield provides a few attributes that are very desirable in this global economy: low volatility, diversification, and strong growth prospects.

The reason Brookfield provides these attributes is simple: Brookfield owns and manages what are known as “real assets.” That is to say, physical assets that have a long-life, stable cash flows, and retain their value because they are essential to the modern economy. These can include real estate, hydroelectric power generation, utilities, roads, airports, and rail infrastructure.

These assets provide stable cash flows that are dictated by regulation or long-term contracts, high barriers to entry, and little maintenance capital expenditures. These assets offer little downside in weak markets and leverage to improving market conditions.

The end result of owning and managing these types of assets is that Brookfield has not only outperformed both the S&P 500 and 10-year treasuries over every time frame, but it has also done so with less volatility.

With over $200 billion worth of assets diversified across the entire global economy, the recent pullback represents an opportunity to take part in Brookfield’s low-risk growth at an affordable price.

Brookfield's global diversification is a huge plus, especially given the weakness in the Canadian economy. If you are looking to further diversify your portfolio away from Canada, buying U.S. stocks is a smart approach.

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Fool contributor Adam Mancini has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of BROOKFIELD ASSET MANAGEMENT INC. CL.A LV.

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