Investors are continually bombarded with conflicting statements about the future of stocks and the stock market. It is nearly impossible not to be overwhelmed by such a seeming never-ending stream of rhetoric.

I am not going to rehash any one of the countless media stories describing the supposed horrors of the long and short-term effects of the coronavirus on corporations and subsequently their share prices other than to say I believe how dire the situation is has been overblown.

That is not to belittle the seriousness of the situation. There will be an impact on all aspects of our lives; Wall Street will not be exempt. That does not mean we should let rational thinking dissolve into irrationality and panic.

Consider the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max, coming less than six months after the crash of a similar Boeing aircraft in Indonesia. The prognosticators of Boeing’s doom resembled vultures ripping apart a carcass, in this case Boeing’s carcass.

Disasters of any kind, especially one as widespread as a pandemic, are distressing at best. Moreover, I do not minimize in any way the ramifications of devastation wrought on the victims.

Nonetheless, trying to dissect every development and its effect on the future of a company, as we saw in the case of Boeing, is futile.

Johnson & Johnson found itself in a similar crisis regarding baby powder, with plaintiffs complaining the product resulted in their being diagnosed with cancer. And yet the resulting number of cases facing Johnson & Johnson, 11,700, is well below that of other product liability cases, such as pelvic meshes, 37,400.

Common sense says that companies with superior products and significant market share, combined with a finely honed distribution network, run by a seasoned management team, will see their share price increase over time, regardless of short-term market trends, good or bad.

The real question here is about you. If you continually worry over short-term market or share price volatility, then please reconsider Wall Street. You cannot put a price on peace of mind. However, not taking advantage of the increased wealth that equity investments potentially offer is like not showing up to collect a well-deserved Oscar.

No, Wall Street is not a level playing field. To paraphrase a concept from the book “Animal Farm,” by George Orwell, published in 1945, “All investors are created equal, but the rich ones are more equal.”

You are not going to interact, much less compete with the “biggies” of Wall Street. Rather you are going to run between and around the feet of the stampeding elephants. In doing so you will create a diversified portfolio of dividend-paying blue chip companies that have a high probability of providing a reasonable total return.

At the same time, you must have the patience of Job to allow share price performance to equate to corporate performance. Having a love affair with stocks is fine but you need to let it be more than just a passing bout of infatuation.

If you employ patience along with a modicum of common sense, your investments will do just fine — despite the unexpected.

Warren Buffett once addressed this question quite succinctly. He said, “Stocks are a decent way to make 6% to 7% annually. However, anyone who expects to make 15% from the market, or by having a broker pick stocks, is living in a dream world.”

I would argue that it is possible to increase that number to 8% to 10% plus a 2.65% dividend yield, assuming you invest in companies with a minimum of 10 consecutive years of rising dividends.

Finally, never become so obsessed with Wall Street that you let it run your life. In a recent interview on CNBC, Buffett said, “If all you succeed in doing in life is getting rich by buying little pieces of paper, it's a failed life.”

Lauren Rudd is president of Rudd International, an asset management firm. Neither Lauren Rudd nor his employees hold any shares discussed or have plans to buy them within 30 days, nor is there any intended inducement to buy or sell any security. You can write to Lauren Rudd at or call him at941-706-3449. For back columns, go to Lauren Rudd offers commentary Thursdays on SNN News 6 during the 5:30 p.m. live newscast.