Turkey of the Year!

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Or at least, Happy Thanksgiving to the Americans among you — I know I missed the Canadian Thanksgiving by a month or so, and I hope everyone else around the world has had a chance to give thanks for whatever it is that makes your life meaningful.

Personally, part of what makes my life fun and meaningful is this — writing about stocks and newsletters for you. And I thought today would be an opportune time to revisit some stinkers … and to choose the Turkey of the Year, and perhaps even carve it up a bit for you.

This honor is not bestowed lightly — to be named Turkey of the Year in Gumshoedom, you must have been a truly awful stock idea, chosen within the last twelve months, and, preferably, you should stand for all that is entertaining (and misleading) in stock newsletter teaser ads.

And within the last twelve months there have been a half dozen or so picks that are down at least 90%, so there was no shortage of candidates. If you went back to look at the whole history of Gumshoe Mania on the spreadsheets, adding another nine months or so of picks to that last year covered herein, you’d have even more options — roughly 10% of the stocks I’ve written about in this space are down by 90% or more, and a few rare delights have fallen even more drastically still: Centerline Holdings (which even looked promising to me way back when, before the mortgage meltdown) and Atherogenix are both down fully 99% from the price when they were touted, and there are several well-known stocks that were popular with the Gumshoe faithful that got immolated — Crocs and Neuro-Hitech both got a lot of attention in this space, and both are down by about 98% as I type.

Neither of those was picked within the last twelve months though, at least not for the first time, so the winner of the Turkey of the Year is …

Potash North.

This Turkey was chosen by Andrew Mickey for his Fear and Greed newsletter — you can read my writeup on the stock here (it’s a grand article, if I do say so myself). That newsletter appears to now have disappeared from the earth, or at least from the Taipan website, and Mickey has come close to doing the same. He went from being among the more aggressively promoted stock pickers by Taipan to being out of a job, apparently. Don’t know why (he’s now at Q1 Publishing), though the picks of his that we sleuthed out in this space wouldn’t inspire much loyalty among any subscriber base — his larger newsletter, Breakaway Investor, still exists but is now edited by Christian DeHaemer. (DeHaemer, just to be fair, almost beat Mickey to the Turkey this year — his pick of CGX Energy, spun with a fabulous tale of lifting blockades in the Gunboat Basin, is down about 91% since he touted it last December).

Believe me, i don’t mean to pick on Andrew Mickey personally — I’m sure he has also made plenty of good picks, and the fact that his ads were so aggressive doesn’t necessarily mean that his subscribers didn’t receive perfectly reasonable advice, I’ve heard from both fans and detractors over the years. But someone has to win.

Before I went in and scoured the tracking spreadsheets to find this Turkey, I was curious and tried to guess what it might be — would the “winner” be a mortgage company or a bank, maybe something that went bankrupt and disappeared altogether, or would it be a commodity play of some kind or a microcap Chinese stock? Those seemed the likely candidates as former highflying favorites that inspired a legion of newsletter teaser ads, and that flamed out gloriously as this year crawled toward stock market armageddon

It turned out to be the commodity thing, of course, and no commodity was more enthusiastically embraced by the investing public than potash — it ain’t as sexy as gold, but it sure made a lot of people a lot of money, if only for a relatively short while. Potash North still exists, it’s traded primarily on the Vancouver exchange up north at symbol PON (pink sheets at PTNHF for those celebrating Thanksgiving today).

This had the virtue of being not only a hot pick in a flaming hot sector, as biggies like Potash Corp. and Mosaic set new records earlier this year, but also one that was backed by some famous names in the commodity space (including a Lundin). Not only that, but it also went public in spectacular fashion at just the right time — the shares quickly leaped over $4 when the year was young, and were still at $2.85 when Mickey picked them in June (and promised that they had the potential to go to $45, if I remember correctly).

Today, you can pick up as many shares as you like for about 15 cents each — and that’s after a bit of a rally on Wednesday. This one is down 95%, officially the worst performer that was touted during the past twelve months … and with plenty of time to spare, it’s only been five months since Mickey turned on on to these northern fertilizer hunters. I don’t, of course, have any idea whether or not he (or his successor) eventually told his subscribers to sell this one — I don’t subscribe to any of these newsletters, so I don’t know those details. My tracking spreadsheets represent what I like to call an “impulse investor” — someone who buys each of these stocks on the day they’re touted, and never sells.

The company still exists, they’re still getting permits and looking for potash — and having comically odd stock offerings to raise money (their last offering, in August, brought us a press release saying that an administrative error had been made and their investment banker had bought an extra 800,000 shares by mistake, an order which would be rescinded … and then a followup press release a few days later saying that heck, all was forgiven, and the bankers would take those extra 800,000 shares anyway, error or no error).

I have no idea whether this company will ever amount to anything, though with their commodity collapsing in price they’re doubtless going to have more trouble than they would have had last year in this business, and opening up a potash mine is no small feat in any market (that’s part of the reason that there are so few of them, and thus partly why the price spiked so heartily in the biofuel-driven ag boom). Who knows, the world will probably still need plenty of fertilizer every year … though it’s starting to look like Mickey’s ad for this one was a bit of fertilizer of a different kind. And that fertilizer, commonly retrieved from the wrong end of a cow, is my favorite kind — it keeps me in business as your friendly neighborhood Stock Gumshoe.

I hope that those of you with thanks to give enjoy giving it, and that families and friends everywhere are together in peace and harmony today. Enjoy the break from the markets, and I’ll be writing again soon.

Leave a Reply

24 Comments on "Turkey of the Year!"

avatar

Mark Bohana
Guest
0
Mark Bohana
November 27, 2008 10:19 am

Andrew Mickey, I believe lost his position with Daily Reckoning around a year ago. I recollect at that time I was having problems with the complete Agora group since they were sending their teasers via video. Unfortunately since I read 30-50 blogs per day, video streaming is time consuming and problematic for me while I day trade. I recall that with one video show he flat out indicated that Oil would go from the present price around $60 at that time to $30,

Tom K.
Guest
0
Tom K.
November 27, 2008 10:26 am

And a Happy Thanksgiving to you, Travis. Thanks for the informative as well as entertaining article on Potash North. I especially enjoyed your humor about the south end of a northbound cow. Just for the record, Christian DeHaemer hasn’t been doing much better than his predecessor Andrew Mickey. One of his recent top alternative energy picks, Chinese solar maker Yingli Green Energy (YGE) is down about 75% since it was first touted a few weeks ago. Enjoy your day!

fireball
Guest
0
fireball
November 27, 2008 10:37 am
hi gumshoe i am waiting for my breakaway investor to expire. i think i was lucky with mickey. i tended to run late on his picks and get them cheaper than when they were advised. ngs was the most profitable. io did pretty good for me too. sirf did about even because i sold most of it around $29. wr grace made decent money for me twice. silex has been crazy but i think it has good potential eventually. i wish i had treated it more like grace as it could have made money for me several times. bbpmf i… Read more »
sequential
Guest
0
sequential
November 27, 2008 11:44 am

Happy Thanksgiving Travis, saw Andrew Mickey on the business channel BNN up here being interviewed
from Vancouver about the prospects for gold and other
metals ect looked and sounded very immature

john sloan
Guest
0
November 27, 2008 11:58 am
HI Travis and a great Thanksgiving day to you – and great coming year. I find some of the Agora and Taipan essays worth while – but don’t jump for their specific stock picks. Nice that you selected a Turkey among the stock picks. What I find to be Turkeys are some of the stupid tout ads themselves – would be fun if you made a selection of a turkey of the year on the basis simply of the foolishness of the come-on letter itself. For instance the ‘secret’ China Lake baloney or this “Vancouver Leaper” that keeps returing .… Read more »
ted in conway  sc
Guest
0
ted in conway sc
November 27, 2008 12:05 pm
Just saying happy thanksgiving and enjoy reading your opinions as well as the blogs we are retired and now out of the mkt completely put it all in the banks at four percent fdic insured sleep better but do watch the cnbc fox and bloomberg seeing how smart we were up till the past four sessions still no regrets feel that this is is just an anomoly and the mkt is going south further but enjoy reading your opinions and will continue to happy turkey day ted and sheila in conway sc
SageNot
Guest
0
SageNot
November 27, 2008 1:24 pm

Happy Thanksgiving Folks:

How about a “gobble-gooble” award for those letter writers who featured the BRIC companies for more than a year? Fear & loathing doesn’t do this group justice these days.

My wife decided to “pardon” the turkey this year, she loves upstaging George Bush!

Let’s hope & pray that whatever is wrong in our world, what’s happening in India today won’t be the solution.

Amen.

Matt
Guest
0
Matt
November 27, 2008 1:33 pm

I have tertiary syphilis.

tramp
Guest
0
tramp
November 27, 2008 2:16 pm

i’m not big on turkey.. but i devour GUM.. happy thanksgiving Travis.. and thanks for your daily dose of fun

magggd
Guest
0
magggd
November 27, 2008 2:30 pm

Fireball–
I believe Yares died suddenly a few months ago.

Larry
Guest
0
Larry
November 27, 2008 3:23 pm

Happy Thanksgiving Travis and all. As bad as things are, we still have much to be thankful for. Best to everyone.

allen l smith
Guest
0
allen l smith
November 27, 2008 7:29 pm

Happy Thanks,I had a taste of Gun Boat ploy,in at the last and got out without too much of a lose. Took a gulp of CDE from CRAMER, I think this is a Real Turkey.Thanks Gum

JOHN RICHARDS
Guest
0
November 29, 2008 8:12 am

CAN YOU PLEASE CHECK OUT ASX-FML DOWN HERE IN AUSTRALIA.HAVE AGOOD WEEKEND.JOHN

Dianne
Guest
0
Dianne
November 29, 2008 3:06 pm

It seems that countries all over the developed world are looking at infrastructure investment to bolster their economies. Anyone have thoughts about the best way, if any, to invest in this area?

robert zimmerman
Guest
0
December 1, 2008 10:06 am

Thanx to the Gumshoe for enlightenment and entertainment.

PeterM
Guest
0
PeterM
December 2, 2008 1:28 pm
Gumshoe, thanks for the service. You’ve saved me a lot of money. I’ve had an up and down experience with mickey. I first subscribed to mickey two years ago. He was saying oil is going to $30 by 2009 (seemed crazy at the time!) but it was only $50. His first pick was TNH. It was really doing well so i got the $2000 letter. That was pretty much the same thing. He has been on fertilizer for a long time. THen he started telling us about potash north a week before it IPO. I didn’t get in until $2.… Read more »
David Hathaway
Guest
0
David Hathaway
November 28, 2008 9:36 am

Fireball,
Bought ABB at 6 – sold half at 18 and will hold rest for long term. Bought bhp at 49 and will also hold it for long term.

David

Venebal
Guest
0
Venebal
November 29, 2008 2:47 pm

As an early subscriber to the Taipan Newsletter and member of their now defunct list, we collectively noticed that newsletter recommendations often make great short sells the day the electronic version of the newsletter becomes available. Several Taipan list members were day traders and noted that prices of recommended stocks usually peaked around noon, EST of the Friday the newsletter was first released.

About 6 months AFTER the recommendations seemed to be the “ideal time” to get involved in stocks of interest.

fireball
Guest
0
fireball
November 28, 2008 11:02 am

maggd
wow i’m sorry to hear that. poor guy probably did as well as anyone else in recent times.
lynn

fireball
Guest
0
fireball
November 28, 2008 11:07 am

david
i have been sitting on a decent block of bhp. should have increased while it was down. shoulda sold a few months back when it was up. shoulda, woulda, coulda. kept thinking of that uranium ore stockpile that they are sitting on.
i haven;t been watching abb close enough. i never realised it got that low.
thanx.
lynn

tramp
Guest
0
tramp
November 29, 2008 3:55 pm

FLR; FWLT; JEC; ABB; are some you might consider

Dianne
Guest
0
Dianne
November 29, 2008 6:41 pm

Thank you. I’ll check those out. Cemex is a stock I’ve considered for quite a long time but it’s always been too pricey for me. It’s not pricey now, but is it poised to benefit from rebuilding infrastructure?

jchere
Guest
0
jchere
November 30, 2008 1:08 pm

Ted, With real inflation around 12-15%, your retirement is evaporating at around 10%/year.
As the govt continues printing money to bale out their friends, I will be supprised if it doesn’t get a lot worse.
Good luck from an other retiree.

Barbacana
Guest
0
Barbacana
December 1, 2008 3:43 am

Whether Cemex will profit from rebuilding infrastructure any time soon depends on whether the global economy recovers any time soon. Recovery => lots of new buildings => profits for Cemex. No recovery => fewer and smaller new bldgs => no profits for Cemex.

wpDiscuz