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I've read with interest the various messages about AngryCandy's posting. My comment has to do with one's time horizon until needing the money. Even if you make a single purchase of a stock (or stocks) and hold it without adding any new money now and then, if you have a long-term period to hold it, you will in all likelihood earn a nice return (if, like Tom G. said, you invest in good, solid companies) -- despite hitting some big potholes along the way.

As you get closer to the time you'll need the money (i.e., retirement age), you should begin to change the composition of your portfolio and re-allocate to some safer investments for whatever percentage of your portfolio you want to have out of stocks. If you are 15 years from retirement when your stock takes a big drop begins a 10-15 year period of not increasing in price (didn't KO have the problem in the '70's?), then you might experience SOME bad luck if you sell some of your stock holdings to put that money into safer investments. But even as one nears retirement years, he/she should continue to keep a decent percentage of his/her portfolio in stocks.

My rambling point is that even if there is another period of 10-15 years where the market does poorly, a long-term approach to holding stocks should still provide a very nice return if one doesn't decide to cash out virtually all of his portfolio during that time period and put it into safer investments. Yes, one might experience some pain if selling a fraction of his/her portfolio to rebalance as the retirement years near, but a person with a rational and reasonable view of risk and reward should still do just fine.

In summary, because stocks go up MOST of the time over a long-term period, one should be able to do well (again, with good companies) if he/she liquidates his/her stock holdings gradually over a period of years as he/she nears retirement and goes through the retirement years.
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