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Financial advisers say ride out market storm

September 01, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Area financial advisers were talking about yo-yos, white-water rafting and Kmart blue-light specials on Monday, anything to keep investors' minds off the volatile stock market.

Monday's near-record Dow industrials plunge of 512.61 points more than wiped out all of this year's gains.

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But Tri-State area financial advisers were telling people to stay calm and keep their holdings for the long term.

Thomas Maiden, a Nationwide Insurance agent in Shepherdstown, W.Va., said he keeps a yo-yo at his desk to help explain the market to his customers.

The yo-yo may go up or down during uncertain times like this. But investing is like walking up a staircase with the yo-yo. When you get to the top, you'll be ahead regardless.

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Another financial adviser compared the market to a white-water rafting trip. This drop is comparable to hitting the rapids, he said.

"Sit tight. Don't jump out of the boat. Get a white-knuckled grip and hold on," said John Everson of American Express Financial Advisors Inc. in Martinsburg, W.Va.

In fact, during a down market is a good time to buy stocks, not sell, advisers said.

Think of it like a blue-light special, said Pete Walters, an investment representative with Edward Jones in Waynesboro, Pa.

"If this were Kmart, this place would be packed," Walters said.

The drop only confirmed the stock market fears of people like Charmain Wiedeman, a waitress who lives in Clear Spring.

"I'm not in it, thank God. Makes you wonder where to stick your money," she said.

The drop also was scary for people like Warren and Kelly Bickford of Hagerstown, who started saving for retirement five years ago.

"I better pull out of my investments," said Bickford, who works for the U.S. Postal Service.

For people who have been in the market for only a few years, this is their first big loss, said stockbroker John R. Hershey III of Ferris Baker Watts Inc. in Hagerstown.

"These have been good markets and people aren't used to seeing their principal pull back," he said.

"It's kind of a rude awakening," Everson said.

Investors need to remember that this correction is a tiny drop in what will eventually be their retirement funds, experts said.

An investor who would have made 100 percent returns over the last three years will now make 85 percent, said Jim Holzapfel, managing director of Wheat First in Hagerstown.

The best protection is to put money in varied investments so a drop in one won't be felt as hard, advisers said.

Many investors said they have faith the market will rebound.

"Sure, I'm concerned. I've got a nice chunk of change in there," said Donnie Stotelmyer, a Hagerstown correctional officer.

But Stotelmyer is not ready to panic.

"It's a roller coaster ride. You've to look at it long term," he said.

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