Warren Buffett’s success has not been built on an ability to predict when the next market crash will take place. In fact, the Oracle of Omaha has rarely sought to second-guess market movements.
Instead, he seeks to position his portfolio so that it can take advantage of future short-term movements, as well as a likely rise in share prices that has led to high single-digit annual returns for indexes such as the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP: .INX) and FTSE 100 Index (INDEXFTSE: UKX) over recent decades.
As such, following his lead could be a sound move. By preparing for a range of possible outcomes in 2021, including a market crash, it may be possible to obtain higher long-term returns.
The unpredictability of the stock market
The stock market’s future movements can be extremely unpredictable. The 2020 stock market crash is evidence of this, with indexes such as the S&P 500 and FTSE 100 declining by around a third in a matter of weeks. This was not an isolated event, with previous bear markets such as the 2009 global financial crisis catching many investors by surprise, both in terms of the speed of decline and the scale of stock price falls.
Due to its unpredictability, as well as a history of following a cycle, it could be a sound move to seek to avoid trying to estimate how the stock market will perform in future. Warren Buffett seems to have settled on this approach, with the world’s most successful investor focusing on company facts and figures, instead of forecasts.
In doing so, Buffett is able to position his portfolio for a variety of future outcomes. For example, he holds large amounts of cash in case there are buying opportunities prompted by a stock market crash. Meanwhile, he holds high-quality companies that may be better placed to survive a market downturn, as well as benefit from a likely growth opportunity in the long run.
Portfolio positioning in 2021
At the present time, such an approach is arguably of even greater value than ever. The economic outlook is extremely difficult to predict due to uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Should this lead to further disruption for a variety of industries, as well as rising unemployment and weak consumer confidence, a market crash could realistically take place in 2021.
However, should a vaccine rollout and the end of lockdown measures lead to a release of pent-up demand across many sectors, the opposite could be true. The stock market rally since the 2020 decline could realistically continue and provide capital growth opportunities for investors.
Therefore, following Warren Buffett’s strategy could be a worthwhile move in 2021. It enables an investor to be prepared for a market crash through having cash in their portfolio. Similarly, by purchasing today’s undervalued shares, it is possible to follow in Buffett’s footsteps and benefit from a likely rise in the stock market over the long run.
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