The problem is that you could be waiting for prices to rebound, or prices to fall further, and there’s no clear way to know what is going to happen next.

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Joel B. from Toledo, Ohio, thinks he has held on to his oil and energy fund too long. Fearing that oil prices could fall to below $40 a barrel, he wrote in an email recently that he’s ready to bail out.

Jack from Sarasota, Fla., meanwhile, thinks that if falling oil prices have not just put gasoline on sale at the pump, but have made energy stocks worth buying now.

He wrote that he thinks that it may be time to load up on oil stocks. Even if oil prices continue to fall, he reasoned in a note, he expects to profit in time when they revert toward $80 or more a barrel.

What was unusual about the two emails is not that they were received moments apart, but that they represent the place where investors are in the current decline in oil prices. Joel and Jack and many like them are in the middle of a debate that centers on a simple question: “What are you waiting for?”

The problem is that you could be waiting for prices to rebound, or prices to fall further, and there’s no clear way to know what is going to happen next.

“It’s too late to sell, yet the supply/demand fundamentals imply that it’s too early to buy,” said Mark Salzinger, editor of the No-Load Fund Investor newsletter. “Of course, sometimes what happens during times like these is that people suddenly discover they have been overweight energy, with more in that sector than in anything else. Those folks should sell down to a more reasonable position.”

Indeed, before someone decides what to do about tilting their portfolio toward or away from energy stocks, they need to figure out how much money they have allocated to the sector in the first place.

An investor in diversified plain-vanilla large-cap growth funds or ETFs likely has 8 to 10 percent of their holdings in energy stocks.

That’s not likely to be changing no matter what happens next with oil prices because the big-name, dividend-paying strong balance sheets of companies like Chevron and Exxon aren’t falling out of the big indexes, and aren’t being abandoned by managers of diversified portfolios.

“I think most investors — those who intend to stay diversified anyway and probably don’t have an exceptional insight on the market’s direction — should stick with their plan and not worry about one sector recently dipping,” said Jeff Tjornehoj, head of Lipper Americas Research.

“Energy stocks are now 8 percent of the S&P 500 and five years ago were 14 percent, so if you’re now concerned about them, it’s a bit too late.”

But that’s late with “concern,” and it doesn’t address the possibility of buying oil stocks now, with something that goes beyond the standard allocation of core growth funds.

There’s more of a split among investors there.

“I’m not generally a fan of commodity stocks or funds,” said Steve Goldberg of Tweddell Goldberg Investment Management in Silver Spring, Md. “Civilization has a very long record of overcoming scarcities of natural resources through ever newer technologies.

“But oil prices are too low,” he reasoned. “It’s time to buy into such a severe sell-off, not for the long term but until oil rises again, whether in one month, three months, six months or a year.”

Goldberg suggested T. Rowe Price New Era (PRNEX) or Vanguard Energy (VGENX) as potentially being a “great trade” in current conditions.

Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF & mutual fund research at S&P Capital IQ, suggested “buying a diversified market-cap-weighted ETF such as the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) that has hefty integrated oil company and sports a 2.4 percent yield,” noting that “historically when energy has gotten this weak relative to the S&P 500 (as happened in 2014), it has had a strong next year.”

The problem with making those purchases is that some investors want better timing, and oil might have a lot further to fall before any turnaround, and even that kind of recovery could be slow. While pricing looks like a bargain now, it won’t feel that way if the price gets cut in half yet again.

Stephen McKee of the No-Load Mutual Fund Selections & Timing newsletter noted that oil is “very oversold — dropping to a long-term up channel dating back some 20 years — so, it’s due for a bounce.”

Still, while McKee thinks most of the damage has been done and oil is at or nearing support levels it won’t breach, he noted that, “We don’t own any oil or energy funds. Aren’t recommending them either. Have no idea when they’ll turn. If OPEC sticks to its target of ‘competition,’ it’ll be a few years before something turns.”

And that’s the kind of picture should make investors remember that “bargain priced” does not mean “ready for blastoff.”

Jason Browne, chief investment officer at FundX Investment Group, said he will wait until “energy stocks start to meaningfully outperform” before buying. “Until then,” he said, “we will let others bottom fish while we stick with areas currently offering good returns.”