Should investors worry about getting into the stock market at its peak?
Maybe not, according to a study by the Consulting Group, Wilmington, Del.
In fact, the study - which looked at various periods between 1940 and 1995 - concluded "any day has been a good day to invest in stocks."
That conclusion was based on comparative results of the stock market, the Treasury market and the Consumer Price Index over extended periods.
It found investors fared well in the stock market even if they put money into it at the worst time - the market's peak.
For example, during the periods studied, if investors put $1,000 into the stock market at the high each year for the Standard & Poor's 500 Stock Index, their return, even without including dividends, would have outperformed both the rate of risk-free 90-day Treasury bills and the return of the CPI.
The six periods studied were: 1940-1995; 1950-1995; 1960-1995; 1970-1995; 1980-1995; and 1990-1995.
Another result of the study: researchers found that between 1940 and 1995, the stock market hit its low 31 times in the first quarter of the year, or 55% of the time, and specifically in January, 41% of the years.
In the same period, the market reached its peak of the year in the fourth quarter of the year 28 times, or in 50% of the years.
The Consulting Group's study concluded that "the sooner one invests (in the year), the better his performance generally will be."
Consulting Group is a division of Smith Barney Inc.