Here's How to Prepare Your Portfolio for 2023 – The Motley Fool

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One of the biggest questions investors may have right now is: Will the bear market end in 2023? Unfortunately, no one can answer that question. The good news is that history offers us some clues about how long bear markets usually last — and the average is about one year. So we know these troubled times generally are short-lived, at least from a long-term investment perspective.
While we’re waiting, the best thing we can do is prepare our portfolios for what’s next — whether that’s a bear market that will last a while longer, or the next bull market. Now, heading into 2023, is the perfect time to get ready for any scenario.
What should you do? Here are some ideas.
First, it’s important to look at the stocks in your portfolio through a long-term lens. Even if today’s earnings picture is dim, you might ask yourself if a particular player has what it takes to grow earnings over a five-year period.
Amazon (AMZN -1.44%) is a good example of this. The e-commerce giant is struggling with rising inflation. And operating income has declined all year. But Amazon operates in two high-growth industries: e-commerce and cloud computing. It’s well-positioned to benefit over time. The company also is making progress on cost cuts, and investing in the high-profit area of cloud computing.
Stocks of companies that have strong market share and operate in growth areas are ones you’ll probably want to hold on to. If those companies make the right business decisions today, the future could be bright.
So which stocks should you sell? First, it’s best to avoid selling at a loss. You haven’t technically lost money if you haven’t sold, so it’s often best to hold these players until the general market improves — you might be pleasantly surprised. Of course, if you think the company won’t recover, now could be time to exit.
Ideally, if you decide to sell some holdings, they should be stocks you feel have reached their potential. And you may want to reallocate your returns into other stocks with room to run.
Now let’s talk about preparing for 2023, whether you have $100 or $100,000. During these uncertain times, it’s a great idea to stock up on some safety. This could come in the form of dividend stocks, or an area like healthcare.
Dividend Aristocrats or Dividend Kings — companies with long track records of annual dividend growth — are a great place to start. These players clearly place importance on rewarding investors over time, so there’s reason to be confident that their policies will continue.
Dividends are great all of the time, but they’re particularly attractive when things are tough. That’s because you’re sure to earn passive income from your investment even if the stock price declines.
Established pharmaceutical companies with a track record of growth — for instance, AbbVie (ABBV 1.26%) or Pfizer (PFE -0.33%) — are also good bets. People need medications regardless of the economic situation. And that means these companies’ revenue will probably grow even if the economy weakens.
It’s also a good idea to prepare for a market rebound. Considering the average length of a bear market, it’s possible the market will improve next year. With this in mind, you might want to pick up a few growth stocks that have seen their valuations sink.
It’s important to consider their future prospects, of course. You’ll want to go for companies that have the financial strength to recover — and that operate in growth markets. Etsy (ETSY 0.79%) is a good example.
And you might consider companies whose earnings have continued to grow in spite of today’s troubles, although their share prices haven’t followed. Costco Wholesale (COST -1.85%) is one to note here:
COST Chart
COST data by YCharts.
These types of players present bear market opportunities.
As we head into a new year, the best way to prepare your portfolio is to invest in both safety and growth. And holding on for the long term is key. If you take all of that into account as you invest this month, you’re likely to prepare a solid portfolio for 2023 — and one that may deliver great returns over time.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Adria Cimino has positions in Amazon.com. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon.com, Costco Wholesale, and Etsy. The Motley Fool recommends Pfizer. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.
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