Bonus: Please Don’t Buy This Coffee Stock …

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, April 14, 2011

You already know that I try to avoid stocks that are being actively promoted — but I write about them on occasion, and so many folks have emailed about this one in recent weeks that I thought I’d share a very quick note about it.

The ad has come in most often from John Bell for “HacktheStockMarket”, and here’s what he says, excerpted:

“In this email I’m giving you all of my research on tomorrow’s pick.

“Why I believe in the company, why now is the right time etc.

“But I am not going to give you the name of the company or symbol.

“I’ll send you that stuff in a separate email on Tuesday morning.”

Now, let me remind you: this is a stock promotion, not a newsletter promotion. Meaning: their goal is to get you to buy the stock and raise the profile (and price) of the shares, not to get you to subscribe to a newsletter (though John Bell is also trying to get you to buy his special “Hack the Stock Market” report for $4.95 down … and$124morein31daysifyoudon’tcancel). I have no idea what “secret hack” John Bell is selling about the market in his e-book, but since he’s also being paid to shill for penny stocks (more on that in a minute) I wouldn’t want to pay for his investing advice.

There are several newsletters and promoters who operate in this way — they send out frequent teases about their “special report” or their “stock pick” that’s “coming soon,” telling us that they haven’t made a pick in months but they’re finally ready to send one out, so get ready. They wait a few days then send another barrage of emails, just ramping up the enthusiasm among readers until folks are salivating about the possible wealth-making idea … and of course, we think it’s a real idea from an analyst and not a pump and dump scam … because if it was a pump and dump, they’d just put the stock ticker out there front and center, right?

Well, usually that’s true — most stock promotions, which are ad campaigns run by either companies who wish to raise their stock price and profile or by third party investors who want to pump and dump the shares, do indeed tell you the name of the stock up front. But sometimes folks like this — or like the DoublingStocks and “Marl the Robot” stock promoters a couple years ago — try much harder to seem like “real” stock pickers and build anticipation, and even to sell a subscription to their service as they’re trotting out a bought-and-paid-for stock promotion in the guise of a “pick.”

Which is what’s happening here. This pick has been teased and made a couple times already by John Bell — we identified it by the clues but you can certainly also find it by giving him your email address and sitting through his promotional emails until he finally sends the one that “reveals” the name and stock ticker (we did that, too, just to test our assumptions). So yes, the “big pick” that is continually teased as being “here tomorrow” has been “released” several times already to other folks who signed up for HackTheStockMarket’s effluvient.

Would you like to sit through the hints anyway, just to test your guessing ability? Sure, we can do that … just skip ahead if you’re not so inclined …

The hints and details from the “tease” ad:

“For the past year I’ve been scouring for small coffee companies the market has missed.

“You’ see the trend of home roasting is as hot as ever.

“The problem…

“Is that almost every small gourmet coffee roaster is already ‘trading’ at dizzy heights.

“I had almost given up looking til about 2 months ago.

“When I stumbled upon a real diamond in the rough:

“A small gourmet coffee roasting company specializing in organic, fair-trade coffee.

“But it gets better:

“This company is owned and operated by the son of (probably) the most famous man in the world.”

And more …

“Heck, I bet at least 50% of the people in third-world nations know the name.

“And so this guy (the son of the super-famous celebrity) has named the company after his father.

“But here’s the 800lb Gorilla…

“This has given the company an instant worldwide brand.

“A trusted name.

“Worldwide brand recognition.

“This is something that even coffee giant Starbucks doesn’t have.

“And the same level of brand recognition would cost BILLIONS (with a “b”) in advertising expense.

“I can guarantee your Mother, your Father and even your Kids would recognize the name.”

So … didja guess?

That’s right, this special “secret” stock that’s perenially teased as “tomorrow’s pick” is …

Jammin’ Java (JAMN)

And yes, as you might guess from the “Jammin'” name, it’s connected to the estate of Bob Marley — who is indeed one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world, and one of the most heavily marketed (from what I’ve seen, he’s close to getting into Marilyn Monroe and Elvis territory when it comes to the revenue potential of a deceased celebrity). Jammin Java was started by one of Bob’s sons, Rohan Marley — who’s maybe not the most famous progeny (I’d guess that’s probably Ziggy), but probably second-most-famous. Rohan is the one you might remember as a football player — he was a linebacker at the University of Miami 10-15 years ago and had a brief professional career in Canada, and he has several children with Lauryn Hill.

Apparently Rohan has been trying to build a business for much of the past decade, and is active with much of the rest of his family in helping to manage the Marley image, but his biggest move was the purchase of a coffee plantation in Jamaica a few years ago and the renovation of that plantation to grow and process organic coffee under the name Marley Coffee, and trying to build a luxury eco-conscious coffee brand under the Marley name. Which is interesting — and a good story, you can see an almost-as-promotional story about Marley Coffee from the Jamaica Observer newspaper, published a couple weeks ago, but then it gets a bit less interesting.

Jammin Java trades over the counter (on the OTCBB) and has about 100 million shares outstanding — and Rohan Marley is a fairly large owner of those shares and it sounds like, initially, Jammin Java was set up to be the owner of the Marley Coffee plantation and brand — but Marley Coffee, owned by Rohan Marley, Lennox Lewis and some other friends, bought back the plantation and the name and gave Jammin’ Java a non-exclusive right to use the brand and Rohan Marley’s name in selling coffee to the wholesale trade, including those little coffee packets for hotel rooms, wholesale bags for restaurants and big box stores, etc. It looks like they might buy the coffee from Marley Coffee, since the bags say “Rohan Marley Jammin’ Java: Supported by Marley Coffee” on them, though they’re cle