Sell in May but don't go away

Opportunities abound during the summer months for proactive investors.

By Stock Traders Daily Apr 25, 2013 3:04PM

A woman in a swimming pool copyright Liam Norris, Cultura, Getty ImagesThe Trader's Almanac and traditional investment philosophy tells you to "sell in May and go away." Based on historical measures, markets do weaken after May and through the summer -- and making money does become more difficult. For example, last year the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) declined by about 10% after April 25, but then it recovered. 

 

So, yes, declines do happen after May and risks can be high. The "sell in May" theory aims to help investors avoid situations like this. The worst-performing, market-based exchange-traded fund (ETF) during this time in 2012 was the NASDAQ 100 (QQQ), which was down 2%; the strongest was the Russell 2000 (IWM); and the SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) ended flat.

 

Last year the market experienced virtually all of its gains between Jan. 1 and April 25, and then did nothing until Jan. 1 of 2013. Coincidentally, the market this year has increased significantly between Jan. 1 and April 25, so far almost like a mirror image of 2012, and if that image develops completely the rest of the year could see little-to-no growth, with declines in between.

 

Although this may cause investors to consider selling in May and going away, there is an alternative. As the market itself comes under pressure, proactive strategies can make money regardless of market direction. One in particular is the Swing Trading Strategy offered by Stock Traders Daily. While the market fell by almost 10% and ended the year with virtually no gain after April 25, 2012, the Swing Trading Strategy was up almost 20%. 

 

This is not the only proactive strategy on the market; there are others, but all proactive strategies that are capable of making money when the market comes under pressure like it usually does after May every year have similar characteristics. Some use a combination of fundamental and technical analysis to achieve a rationale for a combined long-short strategy that protects money on the downside while allowing assets to perform when the market increases. Typically, strategies like this use option-hedging techniques with the goal of protecting assets in case of market decline.

 

Another way of approaching this is to use market based ETFs like the Swing Trading Strategy does. In this case, IRA accounts can also take advantage of downside market moves because strategies that use ETFs instead of short positions never actually short the market, instead they buy ETFs that are already short by nature and this is okay for IRAs. This is highly beneficial for people who are interested in protecting their retirement assets.


Although "sell in May and go away" is a theory that suggests investors should not attempt to make money from the market after May, there is plenty of money to be made during the summer months.  It is an old-school theory for traditional investors, and something proactive investors can take advantage of. Because we know opportunities will come as a result of these traditional followers, we can use it to our advantage and gain a competitive edge.

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