For Some Unlucky Investors, Retirement Will Come Later Than Expected

Rick Guttroff wasn't worrying about his investments as he took a break from work in Times Square on this warm July Monday, even as major market gauges fell to 1997 levels.

"I wasn't a gambler," the 61-year-old Guttroff, a vice president for the American Management Association, said on Monday. "I'm invested in bonds."

Guttroff has 85 percent of his savings in bonds. That hurt in the 1990s, when his bonds returned about 7 percent a year compared with the 15 percent returns racked up by his friends who invested in stocks.

But now, those friends would be happy to see 7 percent returns as the stock slide intensifies. The stock market was walloped on Monday, adding to big, year-to-date losses. The Nasdaq composite is down 30 percent so far in 2002, while the Dow Jones industrial average is off more than 15 percent.

The downturn in stocks means that retirement, which was bumped forward for some investors when the roaring stock market of the 1990s swelled savings accounts, is now being pushed back for many battered investors.

"The biggest concern is that we're going to have to work longer before retirement," Myra Rayfield, 40, said of herself and her husband.

Before the market headed south, Rayfield and her 47-year-old husband expected to retire by age 60. Now, that is being pushed back closer to 65.

Rayfield, on vacation in New York from San Diego for her daughter's 16th birthday, is now looking for safer college savings plans for her children.

The market's fall also has changed Charles Grey's retirement plans.

"I'm at retirement age, and I'll probably have to work for a year or two more," said Grey, 60, a financial analyst for Showtime Networks Inc., a division of Viacom Inc. .

Grey, who owns a number of shares of Viacom, said he will scale back the travel plans he had for retirement, meaning he won't fly first-class or travel at peak times like he does now.

But Grey and others remained steadfastly optimistic in the face of the falling market and accounting scandals that have raised investor concerns about corporate integrity.

Nelson Rivera, 36, a technician for office equipment company Xerox Corp. , said he is still buying shares of his company's stock even though it has fallen 40 percent since the beginning of the year. Last month, shares of Xerox took a hit after the printer and copier company said it would restate five years of results to reclassify more than $6 billion in revenues.

"We're taking our lumps," Rivera said of the stock's performance. "But it's a good company, it's a strong company."

Once market momentum returns, Rivera, who has worked for Xerox for 16 years, predicted investors will snap up its shares.

Similarly, Grey said he remained committed to Viacom's stock, noting that he purchased the company's stock at $40, convinced it would rocket to $80. Shares now trade around $37.

"I'm still convinced it'll go to $80 -- I just hope I'm still alive," Grey said.