U.S. Markets close in 5 hrs 41 mins

Resist the Urge to Purge Your Portfolio at Record Highs: Josh Brown

Resist the Urge to Purge Your Portfolio at Record Highs: Josh Brown

The stock market is at all-time highs! The simple observation of seems to demand some sort of action; a celebration or period of reminiscence. At the very least individual investors should take the opportunity to buy or sell something, right?

Not so fast says The Reformed Broker Josh Brown. "I hate the idea that new highs prompt us to have to do something," Brown says, in the attached video. He's not immune to the appeal that yesterday marked the third leg of a triple top, he's just more willing than most to concede that making the Big Market Call is a game for suckers.

"People have trouble rationalizing being in the market because of where it was six months ago or five years ago. The best thing you can do to overcome that is study history," suggests Brown.

Of course he's right. Bull markets make new highs almost by definition. "Double tops," like those made in 2000 and 2007, and extended periods of ticking against resistance as the Dow did in the '70s, are the exception not the rule.

Selling the all-time high made in 1982 would have gotten investors out ahead of the longest market rally in history. Dumping stocks when they hit the Big Round Number of Dow 10,000 didn't work for the long haul.

Until yesterday selling on the headline "Stocks Hit All-Time Highs" worked exactly once. That was 2007 when the S&P 500 recovered its loses incurred after the tech bubble popped.

As of yesterday's close not even dumping in 2007 was a particularly prudent move.

Taken a step further, history also shows that market crashes don't come immediately on the heels of new highs. The drops in 1929, 1987, 2000 and 2007 all came months after market peaks. If you believe in market timing, and I do, use trailing stops rather than dumping on the New High headlines.

As an investment strategy Brown is a proponent of putting money to work in stages and on a schedule. Shouting "Top!" makes for theatrical television but in the real world it'll get you nowhere.