Motley Fool One Now Comes in 2 Flavors: Classic and… Regular? 5.00/5 (100.00%) 1 vote

Motley Fool is now offering their uber-premium investing service Motley Fool One, in two different varieties: the standard Motley Fool One service they’ve been building up over the last couple years that includes their Wealth Management services, and a new, stripped down version they are calling Motley Fool One Classic, which includes everything but the Wealth Management features at a lower price point.

Their most recent membership drive in March of 2015 unveiled these two versions for the first time. It’s a welcome move, one I’ve suggested they make in the past. There are a lot of investors out there, like me, who want access to all the Motley Fool content, recommendations, and community, and could care less about having the Motley Fool provide wealth management services. As I’ve written in my previous coverage, I’ve found those wealth management offerings to be underwhelming at best, and downright buggy in many cases.

And from the Motley Fool’s point of view, this becomes a very high margin service that they can offer without any additional investment on their end. I also suspect they are doing this because their wealth management services are getting overwhelmed by users, and they don’t yet have the infrastructure or human capital to keep up with them. Splitting out those services into the highest price point will thin the herd so to speak.

When my current membership expires, I can see myself downgrading to this Classic service, as I’ve basically been paying for services I don’t even use.

For the most recent prices and details for Motley Fool One, including the new Classic service, see my Motley Fool One page.

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Motley Fool Performance – April 2015

Motley Fool Performance – April 2015 4.20/5 (84.00%) 5 votes

Here are the latest performance stats for all the Motley Fool services, since their inception. The returns are calculated using the official methodology of each of the services, per the Motley Fool site.

If you like these posts, share with a friend, and rate the content by clicking on the stars above. You can sign up via email (in the right sidebar) to get instant notifications when my monthly performance stats are updated. You can follow me on Twitter too (@motleyfoolrview).

And of course, leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Check the Performance category posts on the right to see all my performance posts.

Don’t Fear the Downturn

Month after month, we keep hearing about how overvalued the markets are, how earnings are disappointing, and the predictions of a market down turn keep getting louder and louder. And we know one will come at some point, but when is that? If you know, please send me an email. The S&P 500 was up +1.4% in April, and up +1.3% YTD. The Russell 2000 was down -2.6% for the month, but also up +1.3% for the year. It’s another reminder about the need to invest consistently, and to drown out all the noise in the financial media.

And I’ve also been reading a lot lately about how passive investing is the only way to succeed and how stock-picking is dead. Much of this is due to the recent popularity of so-called “robo-advisors” such as Wealthfront and Betterment. But if you want proof that stock-picking is not dead, look at the results of the Motley Fool. The majority of the services have increased their out-performance of the S&P 500 in 2015. Take for example, Supernova Phoenix: as of the end of December 2014, they were out-performing by 5%; as of April, they’re now at 26%. Not too shabby. In fact, of all the Portfolio services with a positive out-performance at the end of 2014, all have improved their performance this year.

One interesting data point is that the 3 portfolio services that were under-performing the S&P 500 (MDP, MDP DV, and Special Ops) are now further under-performing as of April. In fact that trend holds up over the last 12 months as well. All three services have gone further into the red in that timeframe, with Special Ops on the verge of under-performing by triple-digits if the trend keeps up. In fact, Special Ops (and MDP DV) have had worsening absolute returns compared to twelve months ago. Those of you who read these updates regularly know my feelings on these two services, so rather than repeat myself, if anyone who reads this wants to offer a counter opinion, please leave a comment.

Understand Before You Invest

For those of you who are looking for a deeper dive into the performance of the Recommendation Services, I have recently launched a premium product called Performance Insights.  I’ve calculated Success Rates, CAGR’s and Annualized returns for all of the stock recommendations services. If you ever wanted to look into the historical trends of their performance, or performance by industry, or performance by number of years held, you should check these out.  My Motley Fool Performance Insights page has further details and a sample of what you get.

MF Performance Stats - 2015-04Apr

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Goldman likes Banking Disruption

Goldman likes Banking Disruption 5.00/5 (100.00%) 3 votes

There was an interesting article on BuzzFeed news the other day about Goldman Sachs getting into small business and consumer lending. This quote stood out to me (emphasis mine):

“The firm has identified digitally led banking services to consumers and small businesses as an area of opportunity for GS Bank,” the memo from CEO Lloyd Blankfein and the firm’s president, Gary Cohn, said. “The traditional means by which financial services are delivered to consumers and small businesses is being fundamentally re-shaped by advances in technology, maturity of digital channels, use of data and analytics, and a focus on customer experience.”

Say what you want about Goldman, but they know banking, and they know how to make money. Goldman entering into this business,which is a far cry culturally from their predominant focus on institutional clients, reinforces the legitimacy of the peer to peer lending business models of firms like Lending Club. It also speaks to the strength of online-only banks like Bank of Internet (BofI) and Ally.

Although Lending Club’s share price has struggled since its recent IPO, Bank of Internet is coming off another strong quarter. I have small positions in both, and will be looking to add to them in the next few weeks. The disruption of the traditional banking industry is inevitable in my opinion, but will play out over a long period of time. The rise of the various so-called robo-advisors is another sign of this change. But these types of long term trends make for great investing opportunities if you have the patience to see them through.

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Motley Fool Performance – March 2015

Motley Fool Performance – March 2015 4.71/5 (94.29%) 7 votes

Here are the latest performance stats for all the Motley Fool services, since their inception. The returns are calculated using the official methodology of each of the services, per the Motley Fool site.

If you like these posts, share with a friend, and rate the content by clicking on the stars above. You can sign up via email (in the right sidebar) to get instant notifications when my monthly performance stats are updated. You can follow me on Twitter too (@motleyfoolrview).

And of course, leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Check the Performance category posts on the right to see all my performance posts.

In like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

March was a tale of two markets, with the broader S&P 500 down -1.7% while the small cap index Russell 2000 +1.5%. This interesting shifting in sentiments is consistent with the actions of hedge funds going into Q1 earnings. You see some of that contradictory activity in the Motley Fool services, with the small cap focused Hidden Gems up 14% (vs. the S&P) month over month, with a mixed bag across the rest of the services.

Supernova Phoenix continues a nice upwards trend, but it will be interesting to see if they can decrease the volatility if it’s going to be successful as a retirement oriented service. Inside Value also is seeing a nice move upward with minimal downside in the last 12 months. What more can you ask for from a stock-picking service?

Understand Before You Invest

For those of you who are looking for a deeper dive into the performance of the Recommendation Services, I have recently launched a premium product called Performance Insights.  I’ve calculated Success Rates, CAGR’s and Annualized returns for all of the stock recommendations services. If you ever wanted to look into the historical trends of their performance, or performance by industry, or performance by number of years held, you should check these out.  My Motley Fool Performance Insights page has further details and a sample of what you get.

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Motley Fool Performance – February 2015

Motley Fool Performance – February 2015 4.60/5 (92.00%) 5 votes

Here are the latest performance stats for all the Motley Fool services, since their inception. The returns are calculated using the official methodology of each of the services, per the Motley Fool site.

If you like these posts, share with a friend, and rate the content by clicking on the stars above. You can sign up via email (in the right sidebar) to get instant notifications when my monthly performance stats are updated. You can follow me on Twitter too (@motleyfoolrview).

And of course, leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Check the Performance category posts on the right to see all my performance posts.

Rising Tides Lift All Fools

February was a good month for the markets with the S&P 500 up 5.5% and the Russell 2000 up 5.8%. Not surprisingly, most of the Motley Fool services are up as well. Supernova Phoenix, the Everlasting Portfolio, and Stock Advisor are the biggest monthly gainers, with Stock Advisor closing in on the 200% outperformance mark.

On the downside, the usual suspects of Special Ops and MDP Deep Value continue their slide vs. the S&P, and even MDP is at its worst relative performance in the last year, even as it tries to relaunch itself with new advisors and a new strategy.

Income Investor, the dividend focused service, is also down significantly in the last few months, a surprising trend given its usual steady performance. But they have a lot of exposure to the energy sector and in particular the oil industry, and with the recent plunge in oil prices, stock prices for companies in that sector have been hammered. It goes to show what can happen even when taking a generally conservative investing approach, and the importance of diversifying your exposure across different industries.

Understand Before You Invest

For those of you who are looking for a deeper dive into the performance of the Recommendation Services, I have recently launched a premium product called Performance Insights.  I’ve calculated Success Rates, CAGR’s and Annualized returns for all of the stock recommendations services. If you ever wanted to look into the historical trends of their performance, or performance by industry, or performance by number of years held, you should check these out.  My Motley Fool Performance Insights page has further details and a sample of what you get.

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Motley Fool Performance – January 2015

Motley Fool Performance – January 2015 4.60/5 (92.00%) 5 votes

Here are the latest performance stats for all the Motley Fool services, since their inception. The returns are calculated using the official methodology of each of the services, per the Motley Fool site.

If you like these posts, share with a friend, and rate the content by clicking on the stars above. You can sign up via email (in the right sidebar) to get instant notifications when my monthly performance stats are updated. You can follow me on Twitter too (@motleyfoolrview).

And of course, leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Check the Performance category posts on the right to see all my performance posts.

A New Year brings with it New Hope, and Some Changes

It’s the first month of 2015, and with it, the Motley Fool services look a little different. They made some significant changes in two of their worst performing services, and expanded Supernova late last year with the Phoenix 2 portfolio. I’m most excited about their changes at Million Dollar Portfolio, and will be keeping a closer eye on that service as it tries to turn the ship around.

I still think Special Ops is too much of a niche strategy to be a stand alone service, and my suggestion would be to combine it with MDP Deep Value, and turn it into an educational service that focuses on teaching the nitty-gritty of valuation and investing, using a case study model that would take subscribers from initial screen to final investment decision. I envision live webinars and even project assignments for the subscribers, kind of like a masters-level investing class. I think there is a market out there among their existing subscriber base that would be interested in something like that.

But I digress…

Performance-wise the markets in January were off to a shaky start with the S&P down -3.1% and the Russell 2000 down -3.3%. Almost all the Motley Fool services did better than that however, and are off to a positive start. It’s a big year ahead for the services. Besides the changes mentioned above, Supernova Odyssey and Phoenix will hit their 3 year anniversary in March, and 3 years is a standard yard stick for measuring the performance of a long-term investing focused service. Everlasting Portfolio hits that milestone in May. All 3 have done fairly well so far and I have no reason to think the wheels will come off the track in the next few months, but the services are maturing and we will see how they progress as the number of positions they have grows, and growth becomes harder to come by.

Understand Before You Invest

For those of you who are looking for a deeper dive into the performance of the Recommendation Services, I have recently launched a premium product called Performance Insights.  I’ve calculated Success Rates, CAGR’s and Annualized returns for all of the stock recommendations services. If you ever wanted to look into the historical trends of their performance, or performance by industry, or performance by number of years held, you should check these out.  My Motley Fool Performance Insights page has further details and a sample of what you get.

MF Performance Stats - 2015-01Jan

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Major Changes at Special Ops and Million Dollar Portfolio! 4.40/5 (88.00%) 10 votes

Over the course of the last few weeks, big changes have taken place at two of Motley Fool’s subscription services, Special Ops and Million Dollar Portfolio. In both cases, senior advisors were replaced, the analyst teams reconfigured, and the investment strategies re-focused.

I have not written a lot about either one of these services on this site because they never distinguished themselves as worth covering, to be honest.

Special Ops: ‘Special’ like the Titanic

In the case of Special Ops, which focused on special situations like turn around plays, and in companies that were in theory completely misunderstood and undervalued by the market, their performance was abysmal. In February 2014 I even put them on a “death watch” as their performance seemed to get worse with every single month. The idea behind special ops investing is not unlike what a private equity firm or hedge fund does: find companies that are completely undervalued or misunderstood by the market, invest in them, and then wait for the catalyst (such as a spin off for example) to occur, and then reap big returns in theory. These types of investments can take a while to play out, and results tend to be very hit or miss. When they work out they tend to work out really well, but when they don’t… well you end up with performance like you saw in Special Ops.

So in early December it was announced that Tom Jacobs, the senior advisor of Special Ops was out. Not a lot of detail in the announcement but he was wished “the best of success” and subsequent discussions on the boards made it clear it was not a voluntary move. He was replaced by Jim Gillies, one of the advisors from Motley Fool Options. Jim Royal, the other advisor for Special Ops remains with the service. They immediately sold off most of their existing positions, and have stated that their focus going forward will be purely on “special situations”. There will be very limited options investing, and no shorting or hedging. From their FAQ:

Our focus will be primarily spinoffs and thrift conversions, with activist investor plays, jockey plays, Pay Dirt-type value, and options being secondary (but still important) strategies.

More importantly, they no longer claim they will outperform in market downturns. That used to be one of the selling points of the service: Want a way to make money in a bad market? Buy these Special Situation investments that aren’t correlated to the markets and you’ll make money when the market turns south, in theory. Now they are emphasizing “performance over the long term”, and the concept of “accuracy”, meaning that if you made money on an investment, that’s a win, and over the long run, a high accuracy rate will lead to outperformance. That seems to be an approach Jim Gillies is borrowing from his Options service where they measure their performance the same way.

I’ve been using the phrase “in theory” a lot in talking about Special Ops and I think that’s the problem with this type of investing. In theory these severely undervalued or misunderstood investments will one day unlock their value and you’ll make a lot of money. The problem is that hedge funds and private equity firms have armies of high paid analysts searching for the same opportunities. I don’t think the Motley Fool can consistently compete with those types of resources on this playing field where it’s not about long term, buy and hold investing, where you can beat the hedge funds just by holding on longer. This is about identifying the opportunities early and getting in on the investments before every one else catches on. How many times can Motley Fool do that – enough to produce that long term accuracy they are now focusing on? I’m not convinced they can.

Cleaning house and refocusing the strategy was a necessity as it was clearly not working at all. But I wonder if this new approach will just be a case of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Million Dollar Portfolio: So Much Potential, So Little Execution

Million Dollar Portfoiio is also undergoing sweeping changes, and unlike Special Ops, I think this really could be a rebirth of a service that always seemed to have a lot of potential, but whose performance and execution just never followed through.

MDP’s strategy was to make recommendations from across the other Motley Fool recommendation services (i.e. Stock Advisor, Inside Value, Hidden Gems, etc.). It was a real money portfolio ($1 million dollars) and the idea was it would be the best of the best from across the Motley Fool universe. Well the performance never panned out, and without that I never really saw what the service offered to make it stand out against the other portfolio services like Supernova and Pro.

Seems I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Ron Gross, the senior advisor of MDP, is now out of that role, replaced by Matt Argersinger, the lead advisor from Supernova Odyssey. Gross is moving into an “emeritus” position at MDP where he will be focused on “educational content” and take on a wider role across Motley Fool in their value-oriented services. This move makes a lot of sense to me – one of the things I like about MDP was some of their content on portfolio building and valuation – so if we’ll be getting more of that from Ron in this new role, it should be a good thing. And Matt has done a really good job so far with Supernova Odyssey, so I will be very interested to see what he can do with an even wider universe of stocks from which to pull.

They’ve currently put the entire portfolio on hold and in the next week or so will be selling and reallocating positions – they’ve indicated it won’t be the complete gutting that happened with Special Ops but more of a surgical approach.

And they will also be refocusing their strategy as well. Now the portfolio will be based solely on stocks from the recommendation services that are either Core/Buy First stocks in those services or current Best Buys. They’ll publish a Watch List and then pick the stocks to buy from that Watch List within 30 days.

I will be keeping a closer eye on MDP now as I think these moves could reinvigorate the service. The combination of Ron’s content with Matt’s portfolio management could be a fantastic combination. And as I reevaluate my own use of the Motley Fool One services, if MDP turns itself around, it could prove to be a much more affordable alternative to MF One that will give me access to all of the recommendation services, which I consider to be the strongest parts of Motley Fool anyway.

in Million Dollar Portfolio

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Motley Fool Performance – December 2014

Motley Fool Performance – December 2014 4.50/5 (90.00%) 8 votes

Here are the latest performance stats for all the Motley Fool services, since their inception. Not all of these are available on their public site.

The returns are calculated using the official methodology of each of the services.

Check the Performance category posts on the right to see if more recent stats exist.

If you find these helpful, please take a second to rate the content by clicking on the stars above. You can sign up via email (in the sidebar on the right hand side) to follow my blog and get instant notifications when my monthly performance stats are updated. And follow me on Twitter (@motleyfoolrview).

And of course, leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Call it a Wrap

2014 comes to a close and it was a tough year for the Motley Fool Services. While the S&P 500 was up +11.8% for the year, and the Russell 2000 was up +3.8%, most of the Motley Fool services lost ground to the S&P. Keep in mind, most are still outperforming the S&P so hard to complain about that, and their absolute gains were mostly up for the year as well. But it was a volatile market this year with significant dips in January and October, particularly for small cap stocks.

The only Portfolio service with a gain vs. the market was Pro, which went from 0% to 1%. Not a glamorous result, but one of the goals of Pro is to minimize volatility in their portfolio, and when compared to the other Motley Fool portfolios, having a 1% gain against the market shows the benefits of Jeff Fisher’s approach in a more volatile year.  MDP on the flip side really took a nose dive, going to a positive +6% to a -6% outperformance. But particularly concerning was Supernova Phoenix’s slip from outperforming by +24% to only +5%. For a portfolio that is supposed to be geared towards retired individuals, that kind of volatility is particularly scary. Let’s see if they can stabilize here.

On the idea-recommendation services side of the scorecard, Inside Value is the only service with a small 2% gain (not discernible in the chart, however). I’ve really started to focus a lot more on Inside Value in my own investing, as I continue to be impressed with their strong, consistent performance. Rule Breakers got close with only a -2% drop in outperformance, while Tom Gardner’s side of Stock Advisor lost nearly one-third of it’s outperformance. Interestingly, David Gardner’s side is the only recommendation service whose absolute returns dropped.

I want to point out that this month a new portfolio service has been added – Phoenix 2. With the original Phoenix portfolio moving into it’s next phase where it won’t be adding any new money, they’ve added Phoenix 2 which is geared toward retirement-aged investors. As of December, they had only made 1 stock recommendation so the performance measurement is still premature.

Hopefully all of you have had a successful investing 2014 and will find even more success in 2015!

Understand Before You Invest

For those of you who are looking for a deeper dive into the performance of the Recommendation Services, I have recently launched a premium product called Performance Insights.  I’ve calculated Success Rates, CAGR’s and Annualized returns for all of the stock recommendations services. If you ever wanted to look into the historical trends of their performance, or performance by industry, or performance by number of years held, you should check these out.  My Motley Fool Performance Insights page has further details and a sample of what you get.

 

MF Performance Stats - 2014-12Dec

 

in Performance

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Motley Fool Supernova: Truth in Advertising

Motley Fool Supernova: Truth in Advertising 3.86/5 (77.14%) 7 votes

With Supernova opening its membership again recently, the Motley Fool marketing machine is at full blast. One of the charts they’ve included in their marketing materials for Supernova is the following chart, touting their very successful recommendation of Apple.

Source: The Motley Fool

Source: The Motley Fool

Impressive indeed. A great recommendation.

However they did not mention one of their worst performing picks: Westport Innovations, one of the first picks of the Odyssey portfolio. Westport was heavily touted back in early 2012 as one of their top stock recommendations. But it hasn’t faired nearly as well as Apple. So I’ve included my own view of that recommendation history.

Source: Google Finance

Source: Google Finance

 

Motley Fool Marketing must be stopped!

I’m a fan of Motley Fool, and recommend their services in general, but I’ve talked a lot about how spamerrific their marketing is. In fairness to the advisors over at Supernova, they’ve owned up to what a mistake the Westport recommendation turned out to be. And as a whole, the Supernova performance has been pretty strong. But before you sign up for any of their services, including Supernova, make sure you understand the whole story. No investing service is perfect, and every investor will have their share of losses, including some that tank like Westport has.

 

 

in Performance, Supernova

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Motley Fool Performance – November 2014

Motley Fool Performance – November 2014 3.88/5 (77.50%) 8 votes

Here are the latest performance stats for all the Motley Fool services, since their inception. Not all of these are available on their public site.

The returns are calculated using the official methodology of each of the services.

Check the Performance category posts on the right to see if more recent stats exist.

If you find these helpful, please take a second to rate the content by clicking on the stars above. You can sign up via email (in the sidebar on the right hand side) to follow my blog and get instant notifications when my monthly performance stats are updated. And follow me on Twitter (@motleyfoolrview).

And of course, leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

You Tell Me

Each month these performance posts are among my most popular content. This month, with the markets relatively stable, and the Motley Fool performance stats uneventful, I am going to forego my usual commentary, and instead ask you, the readers, to give me your feedback. I want to know how you use the performance information I post each month. Does it influence your investing decisions in any way? Has it influenced whether you subscribe to any Motley Fool services? I’d love to hear anything and everything you have to say, so please, leave a comment and let me know what you think.

 

Understand Before You Invest

For those of you who are looking for a deeper dive into the performance of the Recommendation Services, I have recently launched a premium product called Performance Insights.  I’ve calculated Success Rates, CAGR’s and Annualized returns for all of the stock recommendations services. If you ever wanted to look into the historical trends of their performance, or performance by industry, or performance by number of years held, you should check these out.  My Motley Fool Performance Insights page has further details and a sample of what you get.

And this month, I’m expanding my discount offer to include all my Performance Insights packs. The first 25 loyal readers this month who purchase any of the packs (including my popular Stock Advisor/Rule Breakers combo pack), can get a 30% discount by entering the code mfrloyalty-30 at check out.

Thanks for all your support!

 

 

in Performance

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