Halfway Through the Year … How are the Teasers Doing?

A quick look at some winners and losers touted in the last six months

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, June 28, 2013

Now that we’re putting June to bed, I thought I’d take just a minute to check on the stocks we’ve revealed over the first half of 2013 and see what’s happening. As you probably know, we track the prices of each of the stocks we uncover from the hyped teaser promotions — almost all of them are expected by their teaser-flinging newsletter pundits to have gains of 50% or more, often much more, so how many deliver on a level to match the hype?

Well, as you probably guessed, not many. This has been a rough year for junior energy and mining stocks, which tend to be a favorite target of a lot of the different newsletter families out there, so everyone has at least a few nasty losers and junior miners populate a lot of the bottom portion of the spreadsheet, but the newsletter teaser picks in general this year have been pretty, well, average if you just go by a quick glance.

Our tracking spreadsheets are not yet very analytical (we’re working on improving them, but it will take a while), all we’re doing is tracking the buy price when we unveil one of these “secret” picks and keeping track of the current live price to show the gain or loss, but right now we’re seeing half the stocks teased this year are up, and half are down. Those are not fair indications, necessarily — we haven’t annualized the numbers, nor have we compared the numbers to a benchmark (the market has been generally up nicely this year, so stocks that were touted earlier in the year are more likely to be near the top of the list).

Surprisingly, it’s been more even-keeled than a typical year so far — there are no 100% gainers (the best so far is about 40%), and there are no 90%+ losers that are on the verge of going under (the worst picks are down about 50%) … it’s early days yet, typically past years have included a few bankruptcies and a few incredible moonshot gains, with usually about half as many winners as losers overall.

What migrated to the top of the list? Well, Manny Backus and his Consensus Picks service teased several stocks in January, and all three of the ones we covered, Callidus (CALD) and Aceto (ACET) and Zixcorp (ZIXI), have handily beaten both the market and most other picks teased earlier in the year (they’re all in the top five as I type). I didn’t know them well then, and don’t know why they’re doing well now, but they were small stocks with reasonable valuations when they were teased — perhaps sometimes that’s enough.

Rounding out the top five are breakout growth pick SodaStream (SODA) from the Oxford Club folks, and the steady eddie Alaris Royalty (AD.TO ALARF) from Chris Mayer, both of which I was tempted to buy but held off on to my detriment. Alaris was the first pick of this year that I covered, I think, so it’s had a nice tailwind from a rising market despite the fact that it took a 10% haircut when all their dividend-driven peers also fell in June (Alaris acts and yields like a REIT or BDC to some degree), but SODA has risen almost 40% in less than two months.

Likewise, the sixth place pick so far has been Sara Nunnally’s the heavily hyped Capstone Turbine (CPST) that has also popped quite recently, with most of the advance coming in May, not long after the teaser campaign started, and being driven by some new supply deals and big orders that gave hope to this story stock that has always had a compelling-sounding pitch but never been able to deliver. Maybe now they’re back on track? Dunno, they’re still tiny and unprofitable, even after that 30%+ advance, but I wish ’em the best.

And the worst performers this year? Any bottom fishing opportunities out there?

Well, other than Natcore Technologies, that overhyped, years from anything “absolute black” solar company, and Graphite One (GPH.V, GPHOF), the latest in a series of silly and overly optimistic pitch targets that tie graphite mines to the promise of the nanomaterial graphene, they’re pretty much all either oil or gold stocks — the gold stocks are predictable, with gold prices falling by 25% or more it’s no surprise that miners and royalty plays that are leveraged to the price of the shiny stuff are falling at least that far, so you’ll see big royalty plays Royal Gold (RGLD) and Franco-Nevada (FNV) on that list alongside junior miners like Centamin Gold (CEE.TO, CELTF) and Eurasian Minerals (EMXX).

It’s actually the oil names that catch my attention down here at the bottom of the list, because they’ve had a pretty steady commodity price (compared to gold, at least) but are still getting clobbered — HRT Participa (HRP.V, HRTPY) is a clear loser so far this year based on exploration results, with the first drill bit offshore Namibia not providing the kind of validation investors were hoping for after an ugly boardroom shakeup (I owned that to speculate on the Namibia results, I sold when they were bad, it has kept falling). They’ve still got two more exploration holes to drill, they probably have two or three weeks before results will come out from the next one (if it takes as long as the first one, it spud in on June 3), so this will probably see a July catalyst move it abruptly one way or another … we’ll see.

And Tag Oil, which longtime reader Myron Martin mentions in his column for the Irregulars today, has also suffered despite good oil prices — they’re a New Zealand oil producer, teased just six weeks ago by Christian DeHaemer as having big upside thanks to their potential unconventional oil resources … and they’re down 40% already. I didn’t see news that would have made me dramatically revalue the company, though they did update on their exploration drilling plans and announce the completion of their infrastructure improvements right around the time the shares fell. They just reported their annual results today, which were substantially worse than a year ago in may respects (like “profit”), but they do sound optimistic about the next year and they’re in good shape financially, so that’s the one that jumps out to me at the bottom of the list.

Disclosure: I don’t own any of the stocks I’ve mentioned above, and won’t trade any of them for at least three days.

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