Stock Drops, but is it ALL Bad?

It may be the most nerve-racking thrill ride yet: the stock market and it's drop. The numbers continue to fall, dropping another 390 points today to close just over the 8,000 mark. The last time it was this low was, October 1998.

That may be fueling concern and dread from investors, but perhaps the news is not all bad. Apparently, some Alabama-based companies are not doing too badly in these times. WSFA spoke with a local stock broker, who says the Alabama-based companies he's familiar with are financial companies: Regions, Amsouth, Colonial. He says they seem to be holding up very well. Still, brokers are nervous, to say the least, and trying to look for drops of sunshine in a stormy forecast.

Brokers in Montgomery say it's hard to be in a good mood these days, especially when they talk to their clients. We asked broker Sam Chambers, "How are your clients reacting to all of this? are they pulling out?"

Chambers said, "They sure are. Some of them are. We're getting into a situation right now where I think people have reached their pain threshold." Chambers says, in short, we're paying the price now for the exploding economy in the late 1990's. He explains, "This is exactly where all that money and all that innovation and all of those corporate upgrades hit to create that.. Now, we're giving it all back." When you look at the stock market ticker you see most of the arrows pointing down--the nasdaq closes down 2 and 3-quarters percent.. The Dow is down nearly five percent. It looks bleak for investors, but Chambers say it may mean opportunity for consumers. He says, "People that aren't invested in the market are probably being helped out tremendously.. I mean look at cars.. The incentives they're giving on cars right now.. 0 percent financing brought in a lot of money in the fourth quarter of 2001 and the first quarter of 2002."

Consumer reaction, however, is mixed.

Stanley Weissman of Montgomery, says "I am extremely angry at the CEO's who have totally betrayed the trust of the general public."

Marjorie Harter of Montgomery says, "I think we'll pull back out of it..I really do. It concerns me, but it doesn't worry me." Still, everyone will be affected one way or another by those who are skittish and not willing to lend money. Chambers says, "Some of these companies are going out of business, so you might lose your Internet access or you might see your telephone bill go up or something like that, because now there's less competition due to the bankruptcies and so forth in the telecom industry. You're going to lose options."

You might recall it was the late 90's when we celebrated the Dow first hitting the 10,000 mark. Chambers says it was easy, at that time, for corporate executives to hide things. He felt Wall Street pushed companies to perform better than they could internally and they did it to prevent their stocks from cratering, but then couldn't manage it. But despite all that, Chambers says he is seeing new clients, particularly those seeking professional advice. As for what you can do about it, experts advise you educate yourself; know why you own what you own; look closely at your financial statements and seek analysis from professionals.