The Baby Boomer stock shock and what you can do to avoid it

A prolonged sell-off in the stock market thanks to the retirement of waves of Baby Boomers could mean stock prices won’t recover to their 2010 levels until 2027.

Two researchers buried amid reams of data at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco emerged recently with a disquieting prediction: the first great wave of Baby Boomer retirements is going to push down stock prices for the next 10 years. According to researchers Mark Spiegel and Zheng Liu, stocks in 2021 could be worth 13 percent less than were in 2010.

Worse than that, Spiegel and Liu don’t expect stock prices to fully recover to their 2010 levels until 2027. I’ve dubbed it the Baby Boomer stock shock, and its had me exploring ways to protect my capital over the next 16 years.

Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers are the single largest demographic in America, and they make up fully 25 percent of the population. The youngest Boomer is now 44 years old, and the oldest Boomers should start qualifying for retirement benefits this year. According to Speigel and Liu, those Boomers are going to start selling shares they’ve spent decades accumulating, and that’s going to drive down the overall stock market.

How to avoid the Baby Boomer stock shock

While the overall stock market might suffer from prolonged selling as Boomers cash in their equities, stocks that specifically cater to an older population could be poised to outperform. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) has actually put together a list of just such stocks. Dubbed the Aging Population Index, this group of 21 stocks has outperformed the S&P 500 six out of the eight past years (per the Financial Post).

The index is heavily weighted toward healthcare (at 48 percent), consumer discretionary items (at 33 percent) and financial stocks (at 14 percent). Among the companies?

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE:RCL). Stress-free trips on clear blue Caribbean waters. Just what the doctor ordered. There are even a handful of retirees who have opted to live out the rest of their days on cruise ships (per Snopes). The industry’s been working hard at appealing to younger travelers, but their bread and butter for the next 20 years will be Boomers.

Chico’s FAS, Inc. (NYSE:CHS). With a clothing line that’s specifically targeted at high-income women over 35, the company’s stock is up more than 123 percent over the past 10 years (not counting three stock splits earlier in the decade). Chico’s designs its clothes with a toned-down color palette and fills its racks with sizes aimed at “plumper” figures.

Sun Healthcare Group Inc. (NASDAQ:SUNH). One of Sun Healthcare’s largest businesses is SunBridge, which operates more than 200 nursing homes and post-acute care centers. All told, SunBridge houses 22,000 beds in 25 states, and that number should start accelerating rapidly 10 years from now. The average age upon admission to a nursing home is 79 (per PBS.org). As Boomers start aging, long-term care will be inevitable for many.

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE:SMG). The National Gardening Association pegs the average age for gardeners at 55 (per Mlive.com). Companies like Miracle-Gro that cater to that niche are in the fat part of the growth curve. The oldest Boomers are still gardening and the youngest Boomers could just be getting started.

In general, Boomers won’t be fully liquidating their portfolios, but they probably will be moving from high-risk sectors like tech into stable, dividend-paying stocks. Keep the macro-trend in mind, and you should fare better than the S&P in the years to come.

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