2024 stock market crash: an opportunity to buy dirt-cheap UK shares?

Despite the risks and challenges posed by a stock market crash, our writer shares why they view it as an opportunity to load up on cheap UK stocks.

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

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The possibility of a stock market crash remains an ever-present threat in the world of financial markets. After all, history has repeatedly shown that share prices periodically experience abrupt and catastrophic declines during economic downturns.

Unfortunately, such an instance can’t be ruled out in 2024. But by approaching a potential market crash with a Foolish, long-term perspective, I’d aim to turn adversity into opportunity and generate substantial returns in the long run. Sound crazy? Hear me out.

A myriad of risks and challenges

Don’t get me wrong, a stock market crash is just about the last thing any investor could possibly wish for. It brings with it the prospect of exceptionally high market volatility and capital erosion.

Additionally, market crashes undermine investor confidence and induce panic selling. This in turn exacerbates the already sharp decline in share prices.

For those nearing retirement, a crash is particularly concerning. This is because it can reduce the value of pension funds and retirement savings. In a worse case scenario, this could potentially impact retirement plans.

But for those with a long-term investment horizon, there really isn’t too much to be concerned about. In any case, attempting to predict the near-term direction of the market is futile due to the inherent complexity and unpredictably.

Shares trading at a discount

During a market crash, the ensuing sell-off can cause the prices of even fundamentally strong UK companies to plummet. This undervaluation creates a unique opportunity for investors to purchase shares at a fraction of their intrinsic value.

To give just one example, when the market crashed amid the Covid-19 pandemic, HSBC shares plunged over 50% to 283p. But thanks to a solid recovery, I’d have to fork out around 652p per share today.

Investors who recognised the potential undervaluation during the downturn and took the opportunity to buy HSBC shares at their rock-bottom price could have more than doubled their investment as the market recovered.

While timing the market in such a way is almost impossible, it nonetheless highlights the merit of embracing a long-term mentality.

When opportunity comes knocking

So, while the immediate aftermath of a market crash may be challenging, the opportunity it presents to savvy investors could be invaluable in the long run.

By making cautious purchases of undervalued shares during such downturns, investors can potentially secure their positions in fundamentally strong companies at significantly reduced prices.

Such a move not only minimises the downside risk but also positions investors nicely for substantial gains once the market stabilises and valuations adjust upward.

After all, markets have historically shown a pattern of recovery after each and every crash. And businesses with solid fundamentals, a competitive advantage, and resilient business models often bounce back strongly after economic downturns.

All things considered, by opting to focus on the opportunities offered by market crashes and embracing a patient, long-term perspective, I intend to transform any upcoming periods of market turbulence into opportunities for wealth creation further down the line.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

HSBC Holdings is an advertising partner of The Ascent, a Motley Fool company. Matthew Dumigan has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended HSBC Holdings. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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