Motley Fool Pro

Like Ready Made Millionaire, this service lets you follow along as the folks at the Motley Fool invest $1 million of the company’s money, but this service claims to be more flexible and makes long and short bets and uses options in addition to more standard stock picks.

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    1. Lucca 27
      Jan 31 2009, 10:35:16 am

      I subscribe to PRO, Stock Advisor, Million Dollar Portfolio, Global Gains, Hidden Gems and Rule Breakers and will post this review on all the sites. In general I found the letters useful for ideas in an up market, but not terribly helpful in our current down market. I found some excellent companies like DWSN, EDU & CTRP that I would not otherwise have looked at. Sell recommendations usually come too late and analysts tend to fall in love with stocks and catch “falling knives”. For example the repeated recommendations of Select Comfort, Irwin Financial, First Marblehead all the way down and then the final sell recommendation at much lower prices that had been recommended a few months earlier. There seems to be a reluctance to say do nothing and wait. Recent recommendation after recommendation is substantially under water.

      In general Fool is an excellent source of information on a wide variety of financial subjects and the authors seem to be competent and professional. “The Boards” can be a useful source of information and opinion, however slogging through them is tedious because there are a lot of junk postings wherein people tell the reader what they are buying (not why) and criticizing other posters, a situation that breaks into a brushfire that overwhelms a posting site for a day or two.

      Unfortunately the web sites for each of the portfolios, while consistent on a stand alone basis, are a total mess when one subscribes to several newsletters. Each letter ranks performance differently. No letter as far as I can ascertain includes dividends in calculation returns, a substantial flaw in assessing the performance of a stock.

      The “cafertia” approach of the newsletters is also annoying – the same stock may be recommended in two different newsletters and checking the boards requires going to three different boards to get updates. The non-subscriber board and then each of the two different subscriber boards.

      All in all I do not believe that the price of any individual newsletter, each of which is a niche letter, is worth it unless one is a substantial investor, as am I, although far less substantial than a year ago. I am not going to renew any of my newsletters, except PRO which I like because it discusses options.

      All in all Fool is pretty good, but it presents a conundrum. The service is intended to educate unsophisticated investors, at which it does a good job, but it is so expensive as a percentage of assets that unless a subscriber has several hundred thousand of dollars to invest they would do better in a basket of index funds. I would recommend that a new investor without a substantial portfolio subscribe to one of the services for a year or two to get some education and then go on to one of the many free sites that provide all sorts of ideas and their own boards.

    2. Andrea
      Feb 3 2009, 01:30:47 am

      I have subscribed to a variety of Motley Fool offerings, and most recently (Jan 09) started on a trial basis with this one.
      As Lucca said, the other stock newsletters worked reasonably well in the bull market, but they have performed less well in the last 18 months.
      I, too am interested in the PRO service, because it researches and educates on strategies other than equities.
      As a whole, the Motley Fool group do educate and amuse, which is their mission statement. They have a fantastic website, which I recommend to many people, which gives one access to a very impressive array of research, as well as the Fool community, who are also contributing their own research and opinions.

    3. Peter
      Mar 17 2009, 04:10:38 am

      Overall it’s a decent service, but I canceled because at heart it’s still the same old buy and hold portfolio with a few twists (mainly: use of covered calls and short puts to buy stocks at a discount). The bullish bias dies slowly at Motley Fool. In the 3 months or so I was with the service, the only thing that got shorted was the Dollar vs the Yen (FXE, a currency ETN). In fairness, Jeff Fisher said shorting was on his radar screen but he thought it was too risky at current levels (and similarly, he thought put premiums were too high so buying puts was also out). My personal preference right now is with a top-down approach, getting the macro-economic picture right first, and then picking investments (mainly ETFs) to implement them, and going short as easily as long. While some attention is paid to the macro picture, it seems to me to be still primarily a stockpicker’s approach they’re following.

      I do credit them with introducing me to options, but I quickly moved on from there and educated myself further by reading everything I could get my hands on, and I’ve been making good money playing the volatility recently.

      As Lucca says, the Pro forum lacks structure, or to put it another way, is a mess. It may be OK if it’s the only service you follow and you “live” on it day and night, but it became too much effort for me to go in their once or twice a week and work my way through the jumbled threads. (I just say that by way of constructive feedback in case they read this, I don’t think it should deter anyone from subscribing).

      One last issue was the price. I signed up for 2 years at 1400 dollars, which is significantly more expensive than your usual 200 a year. In fact, the lead advisor, Jeff Fisher used to run a very similar portfolio before at a newsletter called complete growth investor (which included access to a different deep value portfolio as well), and that was selling at 200 a year. 200 a year or 700… the main difference I see between the two is in the marketing.

      Anyway, I don’t want to knock it too much. If you’re OK with the price and the approach which is mostly long-only, buy and hold except for a few twists, then I would recommend it.

    4. Ari
      Mar 26 2009, 12:11:40 am

      So far, so good. This is the 3rd fool newsletter that I’ve subscribed to, and so far the one I’ve been happiest with. It’s still in its starting phases, but it seems that they will be more willing to try different strategies as the markets warrant, and their options education has been top notch. I am certainly not going to judge its performance for a while longer, but I’ve been a subscriber since inception, and have been happy so far.

    5. Bowen
      Jul 19 2010, 10:06:01 pm

      I’ve been a subscriber of Pro since the beginning. VERY expensive letter ($1500). Good record, overall – they are up over 20% in 20 months. Even better, while the market was falling, they held pretty steady and never lost. They have been right much more often than wrong. If you are not quick, they move the options market and you can’t make the trade. So, my own personal record is considerably less good than theirs. I made 30% in the first 18 months, but then, holding on when the market was falling, brought that return down considerably. The fool community is great, if you have a lot of time to kill. Some very knowledgeable people. (I also lost a lot of money following a board there in 1999-2001 so caution advised). I like the Fool overall, but agree with the comment that they are still going for buy and hold when this is a radically different era. I have to say, my returns were a lot better before I headed down the Stansberry Assoc. path, mixing their numerous letters with Pro and Advisor. It does not pay to subscribe for a smaller investor unless you want to pay for a good education.

    6. Alan
      Dec 13 2010, 05:51:19 pm

      I credit Motley Fool Pro for getting me started opening an options account and some successful trades, but with my account coming up for renewal I will be dropping the subscription. In two years they’ve managed to almost match the SP500, and wanting $2500 for two more years, well, they’re not even close to being worth it. I haven’t really used any of their trade info in over a year, and I’m considerably better off since moving on.

      If you have at least 100K to invest (preferably 200K), then a trial sub to Pro might be worth it for the education and hand-holding. I don’t regret subscribing, but I’m not renewing and really should have dropped it earlier this year. I’ve gotten way more mileage out of Gumshoe Irregulars and a handful of $40, $50, and $100 newsletters. You can buy a lifetime membership to AAII for under $300. In short, there are a lot of ways to spend a lot less for quality advice and education.

      Bottom line, over two years time you could have matched their performance by buying SPY and used the extra $2000 and spare time for golf lessons and greens fees (or use your imagination how to spend an extra $50 and a couple of hours a week.)

    7. Eddy
      Jan 11 2011, 08:37:14 pm

      Great for an introduction to Options, very customer oriented. Fantastic at long stock picks, you would have been far better off with the service if you never used an option while I was subscribed.

      Their results are a bit misleading due to sequence of returns, and starting during a severe crash. When I started in Aug 2009 they were 10% ahead of the S&P, and by the time I quit the following Feb they were back to even.

      Though it’s almost certainly going to underperform going forward, Pro will have less risk than a long-only portfolio, probably enough to offset the lower returns. However when you throw 1-2K/yr into the mix, you probably need $2,000,000 or more invested to make it worth the cost.

    8. Tammy Alairys
      May 14 2013, 03:19:13 pm

      I’ve been a MF Pro member for 3 years now, and its the best newsletter I subscribe to. Jeff and team being a good blend of humor and education to their newsletter and returns have been strong. (Not so with many other MF letters)
      Jeff has established the North Star model to guide performance and has so far bested his goals. What I like most is that he communicates well and often formally through the site, but is also an active member on the boards, answers members questions directly. Best picks this year, DDD, MA, PZZA, and others.

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