For many people, investing in shares may initially sound confusing. They may also think that they do not earn enough money to start investing in the stock market.
But even if you only have a few pounds to spare every week, you can invest, and your money could grow with compound interest over time to a surprisingly large amount. Many robust stocks are still down from their early 2020 highs, presenting good potential opportunities for long-term investors.
First a bit of terminology for those who are just getting interested in the stock market. London has always sat at the centre of international financial markets and attracted companies to list there. The London Stock Exchange (LSE) is the primary stock exchange in the UK and the largest in Europe.
As described on the LSE website, the “FTSE (pronounced Footsie) Group is an independent organisation jointly owned by the Financial Times and the London Stock Exchange.” It has several indexes of shares covering not only the UK but also other global markets.
The most famous index in the UK is the FTSE 100 which began in 1984. Most companies are multinational conglomerates.
The FTSE 250 index consists of the 101st to the 350th largest companies listed on the LSE. It was launched in 1992. Companies in it usually have a more domestic focus so they are more directly affected by shorter-term developments in the UK economy.
Performance of the indexes
My Motley Fool colleagues regularly point out that over the long run, the stock market returns about 6% to 8% annually, on average.
Over the past year, the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 indexes are down about 19% and 17.5% respectively.
On the other hand, if we had done this calculation in early January 2020, the indexes would have been up around 12% and 25% respectively, over the previous 12 months.
These increases (or decreases) in the index levels do not include the dividend payments made to shareholders. Average dividend yields for the FTSE 100 and the FTSE 250 are about 4.1% and 2.9% respectively.
While past performance may not exactly repeat in the months ahead, the track records of both indexes over many years highlight their growth potential.
Time is on your side
Let’s assume that you are now 25 years old with £5,000 in savings and that you plan to retire at age 65.
You decide to invest that £5,000 in a fund now and make an additional £4,000 of contributions annually at the start of the year. You have 40 years to invest. The annual return is 6%, compounded once a year. At the end of 40 years, the total amount saved becomes £707,620.
Saving £4,000 a year would mean being able to put aside around £333 a month or about £11 a day. Might you just be wondering if you should skip that next impulse purchase?
If you could increase your annual contributions to £5,000, then the total would be £871,667.
What I’d invest in
Making the right investment decisions in stock markets is not necessarily about constantly picking winning shares and funds, buying cheap and selling fast when the price rises. Rather it is about having a long-term strategy.
There are several companies I’d consider buying, especially if there is any weakness in their share prices in the coming weeks. In the FTSE 100, they include AstraZeneca, Bunzl, Mondi, and Severn Trent.
In the FTSE 250, I like Britvic, Direct Line, and Softcat as potential long-term investments.
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tezcang has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Britvic. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Softcat. 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.