Motley Fool Total Income: A New Service from Motley Fool
4.4 (88%) 5 votes

The Motley Fool has a new service launching on February 21st called Motley Fool Total Income. Here’s a description from the Total Income marketing home page:

Total Income is run by former hedge fund manager Ron Gross and noted financial planner Robert Brokamp (we call him Bro).

Motley Fool Total Income combines all the best income strategies we’ve developed over the past 23 years and brings them all to you in one place.

I didn’t find a lot of detail about the service, but did find this from a Motley Fool Income Investor forum (emphasis mine):

Total income is specifically for those who need to live off their investment income, whether you be retired or for other reasons.

The goal of Total Income is to provide multiple strategies to earn income from your investments, not to just focus on dividend stocks. Rather than recommend dividend paying companies each month, the service will seek to highlight the best opportunities from across the Foolish Recommendation Universe. Members can pick from one or more of six strategies that not only include dividend paying companies, but also options and bonds.

Unlike Income Investor, Total Income will not provide regular recommendations or follow up with ongoing analysis, nor will it offer a Best Buy Now list. Instead, it will simply highlight the best timely opportunities from across the Foolish Recommendation Universe – dividend-paying companies from Hidden Gems, Income Investor, Inside Value, Stock Advisor and Rule Breakers, as well as covered call opportunities from Motley Fool Options.

My initial reaction to this new service is negative.

First, this seems like another premium service designed to target a specific niche, but seemingly overlapping significantly with Income Investor, and probably for a much higher price (although I was not able to actually find pricing for Total Income). I also think there is a ton of overlap in concept with a service like Motley Fool Pro, whose stated purpose is to make money in any market environment. Finally there is Supernova Phoenix, which is geared toward retirees and provides actual portfolio management advice, with excellent performance.

Second, with all due respect to Ron Gross, he’s also the same advisor who ran Million Dollar Portfolio and the recently shuttered MDP Deep Value with terrible results. So it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Third, if this new service is just aggregating existing recommendations, with some content and strategy layered on top, I don’t think this will be very helpful to most retired people in actually executing the right strategies for their portfolio to generate income. Not to mention that the average retired investor is probably a) not equipped and/or b) not interested in employing covered options trades as part of their retirement investing strategy (covered options are relatively conservative strategies, but options trading in general is complex and it’s very easy to make mistakes if you don’t know what you’re doing).

So for all of the reasons above, I’m not optimistic about the value this service will offer for the target audience.

If you have more information or opinions on the Motley Fool Total Income service, including pricing information, leave a comment.

Special thanks to reader Tom for alerting me to the existing of Motley Fool Total Income.

in Supernova, Total Income

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Motley Fool Performance – January 2017

Motley Fool Performance – January 2017
4.29 (85.71%) 28 votes

Here are the latest performance stats for all the Motley Fool services, since their inception. Returns are calculated using the official methodology of each service, 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 at @motleyfoolrview.

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

Check the Performance category to see all my performance posts.

Special Ops and Deep Value Update

Note that due to the shuttering of both the Deep Value and Special Ops services, I’ve dropped them from the chart, but will include their prior historical returns until they roll off next year.

in Performance

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Motley Fool Performance – December 2016

Motley Fool Performance – December 2016
4.29 (85.71%) 28 votes

Motley Fool December 2016 Performance

Here are the latest performance stats for all the Motley Fool services, since their inception. Returns are calculated using the official methodology of each service, 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 at @motleyfoolrview.

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

Check the Performance category to see all my performance posts.

Special Ops and Deep Value Update

Note that due to the shuttering of both the Deep Value and Special Ops services, I’ve dropped them from the chart, but will include their prior historical returns until they roll off next year.

in Performance

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Motley Fool One Becoming a Hedge Fund?

Motley Fool One Becoming a Hedge Fund?
4.67 (93.33%) 3 votes

I received an interesting email this weekend from Motley Fool marketing – one that says that Motley Fool One is likely expanding into private company investments. Details were very limited but they’re talking about giving Motley Fool One members a chance to invest in pre-IPO companies. Some examples that were referenced were AirBnB, Homeaway, Facebook, and of course Uber.

The email mentions that a current Motley Fool Director, and former Paulson & Co hedge fund COO Putnam Coes, is now running the Motley Fool Investment Management business, and that Motley Fool One will be exploring private investments. The email then hedges (pardon the pun) a little bit and talks about private investments being part of their potential future.

The email came along side an offer for me to extend my Motley Fool One membership for another 3 years (at $13k total, claiming this is a $5k savings over their regular rate). As an enticement for doing that, they were offering the chance to join a call with Tom Gardner and Mr. Coes to learn more about this possible new investment strategy.

I won’t be extending my membership, so I won’t be able to join that call, but it seems to me that if Motley Fool is sending out marketing emails about private investing, it’s likely to happen.

It’s an interesting move for the Motley Fool, and part of their continuing evolution into a full fledged investment advisory firm, with the newsletters that made them famous becoming a smaller part of their business. My guess is that the newsletters will at some point serve mostly as a marketing funnel to pull investors into the Motley Fool universe, and then aggressively upsell them into Motley Fool One members at some point.

With companies staying private for longer than they historically had, private investing is no longer a matter of just investing in tiny start-ups with great ideas. However, it’s still a much different game than investing in public companies, and I’m not sure this is in the Motley Fool’s circle of expertise. They’ve tended to stumble quite a bit when expanding outside of their bread and butter, long term buy and hold, US-centric investing strategies (witness the recent demise of their Special Ops and Deep Value services). The beginnings of their Wealth Management business was also a series of technical and procedural missteps.

So I’m not overly optimistic about this new strategy either. At the very least, I’d sit this one out for the first couple rounds, see how they develop this new strategy, and maybe reevaluate a couple years down the road.

What about you? Does private investing by the Motley Fool sound like a good idea to you?

in Motley Fool One

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Motley Fool Performance – November 2016

Motley Fool Performance – November 2016
4.23 (84.62%) 26 votes

Here are the latest performance stats for all the Motley Fool services, since their inception. Returns are calculated using the official methodology of each service, 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 at @motleyfoolrview.

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

Check the Performance category to see all my performance posts.

Special Ops and Deep Value Update

Note that due to the shuttering of both the Deep Value and Special Ops services, I’ve dropped them from the chart, but will include their prior historical returns until they roll off next year.

in Performance

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Motley Fool Performance – October 2016

Motley Fool Performance – October 2016
4.13 (82.5%) 24 votes

Here are the latest performance stats for all the Motley Fool services, since their inception. Returns are calculated using the official methodology of each service, 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 at @motleyfoolrview.

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

Check the Performance category to see all my performance posts.

Special Ops and Deep Value Update

Note that due to the shuttering of both the Deep Value and Special Ops services, I’ve dropped them from the chart, but will include their prior historical returns until they roll off next year.

in Performance

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Motley Fool Performance – September 2016

Motley Fool Performance – September 2016
3.94 (78.89%) 18 votes

Here are the latest performance stats for all the Motley Fool services, since their inception. Returns are calculated using the official methodology of each service, 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 at @motleyfoolrview.

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

Check the Performance category to see all my performance posts.

Special Ops and Deep Value Update

Note that due to the shuttering of both the Deep Value and Special Ops services, I’ve dropped them from the chart, but will include their prior historical returns until they roll off next year.

in Performance

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Motley Fool Performance – August 2016

Motley Fool Performance – August 2016
3.86 (77.14%) 14 votes

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Here are the latest performance stats for all the Motley Fool services, since their inception. Returns are calculated using the official methodology of each service, 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 at @motleyfoolrview.

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

Check the Performance category to see all my performance posts.

Special Ops and Deep Value Update

Note that due to the shuttering of both the Deep Value and Special Ops services, this is the last month I’ll be able to provide updated performance stats for them.

in Performance

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Better Late Than Never: Special Ops and MDP Deep Value to Shut Down
5 (100%) 2 votes

After years of dismal performance, the Motley Fool has announced that it is shutting down both their Special Ops and MDP Deep Value services.

It’s about time.

I’ve been calling for them to give Special Ops and MDP DV the “old yeller” treatment for a while now. I think I first officially put them on a death watch back in February of 2014. Then in January 2015 they announced some big changes at Special Ops (and the removal of Ron Gross from the Million Dollar Portfolio lead advisor role) which I likened to rearranging chairs on the Titanic.

A scant 20 months later, they are pulling the trigger.

The announcement email sites poor performance and declining member participation, and the shut down will occur in the next few weeks:

In the coming weeks, we’ll be shuttering the dedicated websites for these services, including their discussion boards and coverage, and the advisors will no longer be making real-time trade alerts or maintaining the services’ online portfolios.

Performance has definitely been terrible. When I first mentioned the death watch for Special Ops in 2014, their average total returns were trailing the S&P by -68%. Little did I know that would be their high-water mark, and performance only got worse from there. When they announced their changes a year later, it had fallen to -87%. For the last 5 months (and 8 of the last 10), they’ve been below 100%. In their most recent month, they hit an all time low of -110% below the S&P. Even worse than their performance relative to the S&P was the fact that their absolute average returns were negative or near 0 for 10 of the last 12 months.

MDP Deep Value followed a similar death spiral with February 2014 performance vs. the S&P at -27% also their high-water mark, and their most recent month at -90%. While the absolute returns were strongly positive, in the last 12 months those returns plummeted to the single digits.

Beyond performance, I think the biggest problem is that the methodologies of these 2 services were entirely outside the strengths of the Motley Fool philosophy, which is basically different flavors of long term buy and hold investing. As I said in my prior post back in January 2015:

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.

Seems that I was right (if only I could have this kind of foresight with all my investing!).

Motley Fool One members will continue to have limited access to the services via the MF One Fool IQ tool, which is their in-house stock screening tool and will allow them to see what stocks those advisors are watching or recommending, as well as updates on the active recommendations in both Special Ops and MDP DV. In my view this is really just a way to quietly wind the services down entirely, and throw a bone to the high-paying One members who might have been following those services.

Although I’m sure a shock to the small number of fans of this service, this is absolutely the right decision. Hopefully, Motley Fool will instead focus on their strengths, and better utilize the resources that were dedicated to these two services. For anyone looking for a replacement for these services, I would suggest Inside Value, which also follows a value-investing approach, but actually performs consistently well.

in MDP Deep Value, Special Ops

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Motley Fool Performance – July 2016

Motley Fool Performance – July 2016
3.82 (76.36%) 11 votes
Motley Fool July Performance

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Here are the latest performance stats for all the Motley Fool services, since their inception. Returns are calculated using the official methodology of each service, 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 at @motleyfoolrview.

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

Check the Performance category to see all my performance posts.

in Performance

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