The Winners of 2015

Looking back at the teaser picks that worked this year

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, December 24, 2015

As a reformed academic, I have it hard-wired in my brain that work should cease for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day — Stock Gumshoe will be running on autopilot starting this afternoon, and we’re not likely to have much in the way of new articles posted until next year (unless you want to write something, of course — Irregulars are always welcome to start their own discussion topics or submit their longer-form musings here).

So I’ll say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year now, with a Happy Kwanzaa in between, but I want to send you away with some thoughts for the quiet days ahead… so, as I often do, I’m taking a look back at the hits of 2015 in hopes that we’ll all learn something. It seems only fair, since I make a point of identifying the “Turkey of the Year” each Thanksgiving, to also give the biggest winning stock picks a little attention… to take a quick follow-up look at some of the anti-turkeys.

First, I should explain our methodology: As most of you know, we’re operating from just the teaser ads that newsletters send out — we identify the stocks that are hinted at, defuse that marketing a bit so you can think more clearly about the investment in question, and keep track of how that investment does on our Tracking spreadsheets.

That doesn’t mean we’re tracking the actual success of the underlying newsletter — newsletters don’t send out crazy hyped teaser ads when they sell a stock or otherwise update us non-subscribers on their portfolios, so it’s quite possible that many of the stocks are only “held” by those newsletters for a few weeks or months and that the change in the stock since it was teased doesn’t necessarily reflect the returns a subscriber to the newsletter would have enjoyed (or suffered through). Our spreadsheets also link back to the original article, so you can get an idea of what kind of time frame the pitch was aimed at, or what kind of dreamy visions of returns the editor put in our heads.

Our tracking, by necessity, is simply a “buy and hold forever” tracking for that teased investment, and what we’re most interested in is providing some evidence that will help you short circuit those little gremlins that bounce around your head and mutter, “hey, maybe this stock will really get me a 10,000% return!”

No, we haven’t seen any 10,000% returns yet… not ever. And it’s been almost nine years, so our sample size is pretty big.

The closest we’ve seen is the roughly 4,000% return from Netflix (NFLX) shares after the Motley Fool teased that one back in 2007… and a couple 2008 teaser stocks would have you sitting on 1,000% gains today, Skyworth Digital in Hong Kong and Biovail (before it became Valeant). Those are the only current “10-baggers” among the 1,853 stocks we’ve tracked as of mid-October (yes, I went back and counted… and no, I didn’t own any of those stocks). Those returns are not annualized, that’s the total increase in price since the stock was teased. And the folks who pitched those have also all pitched stocks that have fallen 80, 90, 100% as well… so there are no Midas candidates in our universe, everyone has their hits and misses.

The overall success ratio of these picks, if you’re curious, has been fairly consistent since we started identifying teaser stocks for you and tracking their share prices in 2007. Roughly one third of the stocks that have been teased tend to be in positive territory each year, with a few doubling and an occasional stock rising by more than 200% on the year, and 2/3 fall in value, including a dozen or so that are usually down by more than 90%… typically with a couple 99%+ losses thrown in from bankruptcies.

In the last two years we’ve started comparing stock performance to a benchmark (the S&P 500 index), which adds a layer of understanding, perhaps, but hasn’t made a big difference yet (mostly because the S&P hasn’t made a big move over the last two years — this would probably have made a difference to past returns from picks made during market troughs, like in 2009, but we haven’t gone back to add that data). And yes, if you’re wondering, we do go back and try to keep the spreadsheets accurate by adjusting for takeovers, name changes, bankruptcies and the like — though we miss things, too, so feel free to let us know if you think the numbers are off or you notice a takeover or split that we missed.

So… what have we seen over the past year? By way of comparison, I’ll remind you that the broad market has been “violently boring” this year, closing out 2015 very close to where it started but offering a lot of uncertainty and bounces, both up and down, that might have provided opportunities for well-timed investments by the wise and/or lucky.

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Well, the hands-down winner for stocks teased in 2015 is Pacific Biosciences (PACB), hinted at as a favorite by Frank Curzio in ads for his Disruptors and Dominators newsletter back in September. That was fantastic timing, in retrospect, because it was just a couple weeks before PACB introduced their new, lower cost DNA sequencing machine that’s intended to be stronger competition for Illumina’s market-dominating products, and that announcement helped PACB to really take off after a very moribund couple years.

What was Curzio’s hinted promise on this one? This is from his ad:

“With all the money this firm is marshalling, it wouldn’t surprise me to see it jump to $10 … even $15 in the near future … and as high as $20 or $25 after that.

“We’re talking about a potential 500% gain within the next 12 to 24 months”

So, credit where credit is due, it did jump to above $10 “in the near future” with that 180%+ gain since September (it’s around $13.50 now). The jury will probably be out for a while on that 500% potential, but that’s a good start.

Of course, Curzio hinted at three stocks to play this trend toward more DNA sequencing and “personalized medicine” — Illumina (ILMN) was one, and I concluded that the third was probably Fluidigm (FLDM). Those two are flat since September, so if you had split your investment among the three ideas the return would have been lower at ~70% — but still certainly market-beating so far.

What can we learn about this? Well, for one thing, price matters… whether by luck or by great insight or instincts, Curzio aggressively touted PACB at very close to the trough price. But he wasn’t the first one to tease or pick the stock — Marc Lichtenfeld pushed it pretty aggressively early in the year for Oxford, in both January and April… but the stock was around $8 the first time we looked at his ad, then at about $6 when we re-checked it early in the Spring. That means you only get a 50-100% return from those prices, not a 200%+ return.

For what it’s worth, Curzio also may have picked PACB several years ago when he worked at a different newsletter, though the teaser ad back then was primarily about another stock and only obliquely referred to PACB as a secondary idea — that was in August of 2011, when PACB was newly public and was being crushed as a flop of an IPO, and it was around $6 back then as well.

Second place for the year on our spreadsheets goes to a new newsletter… and a stock that wasn’t even a 100% certain match for the Thinkolator (so, the horror, we might be giving credit where none is due) — that’s Ophthotech (OPHT), which is developing a wet AMD drug called Fovista. That stock has doubled since its September lows thanks to licensing deals and progression of their second Phase III trial (results in a year or so, most likely), and Matt McCall teased it for his FUTR Stocks (or so the Thinkolator concluded) pretty close to those lows. Another stock that had predicted catalysts coming, and the catalysts fell their way and the interest level steadily increased — as with many biotechs, sometimes the catalysts go the other way.

And what’s the third most successful teased stock this year? This one came as a big surprise to me: New Flyer Industries (NFI.TO in Canada, NFYEF OTC in the US). This is a stock we’ve covered many times, it was often teased in its prior incarnation as a hybrid income investment, and it became a “regular” corporation and started to get its balance sheet in order a couple years ago. Throughout that long transition they’ve been an important manufacturer of transit buses, and it look like their latest products are getting some real traction — they’ve had some very large orders this year, they sell to municipalities that aren’t quite as broke as they were a few years ago and that are pushing for more efficient and environmentally friendly bus fleets, and they’ve made some acquisitions… and they get to sell in US dollars but incur their costs in Canadian dollars, which has worked out well lately. I thought it was a good company but a fairly expensive stock, relative to the industry, back in April when David Dittman’s Canadian Edge was teasing the pick at about $11. So far I guess I was right about the company but wrong about the “expensive,” the shares are up more than 70%.

So those are our three victors on the year — a reminder that sometimes good things can come of a “story stock” even if the hype and the silliness surrounding them can be painful distractions. None of these are phantom businesses, none are built on imagined fantastical potential — they’re real businesses with real assets that are seen as valuable even by some folks who don’t write investment newsletters, so perhaps that’s our real lesson: Even if you’re pretty sure a newsletter pundit is on to a valuable idea, make sure to look beyond the newsletter hype and get a second opinion.

Have a wonderful final week of 2015, and we’ll be back to sleuthify all your favorite teaser stocks in 2016!

PS: None of those newsletters costs $5,000, either. Throughout the years we’ve seen no real connection between the quality of a teased pick and the price of the newsletter… though many of the higher priced letters focus on tinier stocks that can sometimes be super-volatile, including small biotech or junior mining names, so those pricier letters do lead the pack in some years (and there are a few of them in the top ten for this year).

P.P.S: Yes, the most successful stock pick over the last year-plus-a-little was not actually PACB — that honor falls to Anavex, the Alzheimer’s Disease hopeful… but the huge “winner” teaser pick on that one that’s still up by close to 800% came out in December of last year, so I didn’t count it as a 2015 idea (it’s been teased every year or so by someone, ever since it was in the $80s, split adjusted, in 2007 and 2008). By the time Ray Blanco started actively teasing it this year, near the end of October when it was being uplisted, it was already around $8-9 and up close to 1,000% for 2015. It got up another 50% from there, very briefly on their next news release, but fell back down again as the “sell on the news” crowd sold and the data that they released was critiqued more closely, so this year’s tease of AVXL is actually down 20% or so. And yes, every time I mention Anavex with any skepticism its fans get in an uproar… so you can feel free to discuss that one too, if you like. It’s certainly been an exciting stock this year, and has been inching its way up again over the past month.

P.P.S. OK, OK, for all those who are asking this morning: A quick teaser answer. The Money Map Press folks are selling their $5,900 Passport Club service (lifetime access to all their newsletters for one price) by pitching what they call a “remarkable new Tinnitus drug recommendation we’re reserving for our most loyal readers… The little $4 stock that could be on a path to $911 once Phase 3 study results are announced early next year.” I’ve done no analysis of it at all, but the stock they’re teasing is pretty clearly Auris (EARS). Which is already up 25% or so at the open today, so lots of folks already figured that out. Is it really worth a look? Discuss among yourselves….

Happy New Year!


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Vance
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Vance

Great read Travis. Thanks for the perspective and data.

Vance
Guest
Vance

Here’s a new one by Kent Moors and his colleagues. Must be option spread related.
http://pro.moneymappress.com/ECLLEV2/EECLRC11/?email=VANCEBAKER%40sbcglobal.net&a=8&o=221676&s=231411&u=3504773&l=820577&r=MC&vid=9Z5Pn_&g=0&h=true

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chibana
Irregular
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chibana

Travis,
Great read as always. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
V/R
Tom

paulsharp3
Irregular
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paulsharp3

The people with more brains then me check this stock out,the directors and VP,Ceo and a whole lot other insiders are buying.It appears they won a case of a hostile take over and the board of directors have a earnings report coming up in the near future.The one director is also a director with ATNM.This company s name is Relmada.(RLMD)if you could report what you think ,Thanks.Merry Christmas to all.

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DaveologicalSociety
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DaveologicalSociety

Thank you, everybody at Gumshoe! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!
Great read, Travis! Good look back!
The only subscription necessary for the markets is right here! The added prescription for this subscription is Doc Gumshoe as a bonus! Thanks, Doc!
All of you are very interactive with your subscription base, and that is a major plus for Gumshoe!

grobb1934
Member
👍38

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Travis. Keep up to good work.

Barry Shaw
Guest

Travis,

I want to wish you the best Christmas ever!
This greeting is coming to you from the Holy Land, so you know it comes with a guarantee.
I have been a (mainly) silent follower from afar in Israel.
I have been as impressed as much by your recommendations not to plunge as you have with your thumbs up for other companies. This gives your fans a deep appreciation for what you are doing. We know it’s time-consuming but we are in awe of your ability to translate financials into enjoyably readable articles.

So, have a great Christmas. You deserve it!

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D
Guest
D

The mistakes avoided, Type II constructs — Travis is the unsung hero of avoiding dumb investing behavior. It’s so damn unsexy, yet so essential.

Being a reformed academic, I also must take off late December to stay sane, and I’m lucky enough to have a job that allows me to so just that ….

Thanks, Travis, and best wishes for the holidays!

sheldon
Member
👍236
sheldon

Kol Hakavod!

sheldon
Member
👍236
sheldon

Sorry Gummies-
That Israeli idiom can be roughly translated as “Way to Go!”
A heartfelt thanks to Travis -and Dr KSS!

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alanh
Member
👍4086

Fab site Travis….perpetual devotion. Btw I made a mint on $ARTH….secured $1000 of stock and bought a $5 box of chocs with the profit ….the mint was the best of breed.

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FRANKLIN
Guest

After spending a lot of money on mostly dumb newsletters, I found GUMSHOE. Travis has saved me a bundle, as I now only need Travis by my side. May GOD bless TRAVIS and his family of loyal readers. I will be here for a lifetime. Everyone should become an irregular member.

pmb2pmb
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pmb2pmb

I wish I had found :gumshoe” years ago … as one who has subscribed to too many newsletters and believed too many hyped stocks that never did what was promised, becoming an irregular is the BEST investment decision I’ve made in a long while ….. thank you for all your research … and thanks to Doc too ………… hope you all have a merry, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year …. enjoy your time off, you deserve it!

sandy_shore
Member
👍92

Merry Christmas, Travis. May you have many happy teases in 2016!

Allan Fisher
Guest
Allan Fisher

ALLAN’s 2015 Stock Market In Review Helium was up, feathers were down. Paper was stationary. Fluorescent tubing was dimmed in light trading. Knives were up sharply. The Bulls steered into the cow market. Pencils lost a few points. Shipping lines stayed at an even keel. The market for raisins dried up Caterpillar stock inched up a bit. Kites were flying to new highs Hiking equipment was trailing. Elevators rose, while escalators continued their slow decline. Weights were up in heavy trading. Light switches were off. Pants were walking, and skirts were up. Mining equipment hit rock bottom. Diapers remained unchanged.… Read more »

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arch1
Member
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alanh I am in awe and (nearly ) speechless……..great post! I agree that mining was shafted and cabinetry was screwed. I do not want to talk about the dose I got in health care…… other that it was an unpleasant movement. 🙂 fa

Frank Rodriguez
Guest
Frank Rodriguez

Travis,
Thank you for another year of great information.
We wish you and yours a FELIZ NAVIDA.
Live long and prosper

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Fabian
Guest
Fabian

Thank you for all the articles, merry Christmas and happy new year.

Tabano
Member
👍27

From Madrid (Spain): Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año 2016
Merry Christmass and a Wealthy 2016
Thanks for your research, for sharing and for your sense of humor.
Best wishes for Gumshoe readers
Pedro

misilverfox
Member
👍11
misilverfox

Travis, I have read your column for a long time – I think I found this column during the years of so much talk about rare minerals. I have been an irregular member for several years and I love that status because I have little patience and no ability to do financial research. I want to make money, not study it. LOL I have also paid for a number of newsletters. I lost more than one-third of my money using and believing in those paid newsletters. Admittedly, I tried picking and choosing from them. I don’t know if I would… Read more »

Radar Al
Guest

You are spot on!! Thank you Sooooo much for your reviews.
Radar Al

investor101
Irregular
👍32

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL. Thanks to all that contribute to my education and especially to Travis. You have helped me so much and I appreciate it very much! May we all use good judgment and wisdom in the coming year as we navigate these troubled waters. It is tough when we don’t have control, but we will keep our sails to the wind and continue on. God Bless all!

arch1
Member
👍7784

Travis …many thanks for my favorite website. frank

Patricia
Member
👍689

Travis & gang; I’ll add my thanks to all of those above. I recommend your site to others, and hope your subscriptions continue to increase at a high rate in 2016.

takeprofits
Guest

It is now just over a year that I ended up in the hospital, (after 60 years of not having seen a doctor) unable to breathe to the point of barely being able to get out of bed and dress myself. Having no medical records to rely on the emergency room doctors had to start from scratch to determine my problems. They at first assumed I had as they termed it “a mild heart attack” (later based on further testing) they rescinded this conclusion. Turns out I had pneumonia and they drained a litre of fluid from around my lungs… Read more »

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Patricia
Member
👍689

Thanks for your many posts on the subject of natural health. This site needs that kind of input to counter the over-enthusiasm for chemical solutions which is found here. My brother-in-law was on insulin for many, many years – but following a paleo diet which emphasizes vegetables, was able to get off and stay off insulin earlier this year. He’s working again and doing well. I consider medicine a corrupted field, like several others, but some responsibility belongs to patients who demand drugs rather than want to change their lifestyles. Happy & healthy New Year wishes, Myron.

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Dave
Guest
Dave

” but some responsibility belongs to patients who demand drugs rather than want to change their lifestyles. ”

That bears repeating about 10,000 times, although I’d replace “some” with “most” for the all-too-common “lifestyle” diseases or conditions strongly linked to smoking, inactivity, and overweight/obesity. And sorry to say it, but avoiding vaccinating your children is just plain stupid.

Patricia
Member
👍689

I don’t think vaccination is a black & white issue. It used to be just common sense: get your kids vaccinated, period. But these days there are so many being pushed: are they all necessary? Are they still safely formulated? Some components seem to be problematic. Since there are billions to be made wherever government mandates anything health-related, a close watch needs to be kept on the government-pharmaceutical complex because excesses and abuses are inevitable. Doctors who voice skepticism and concerns should be listened to. This is a very thorny issue and the public, as usual, is being presented by… Read more »

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thormj
Member
👍10
thormj

Nowadays, you do need to look at the vaccines and make choices; My son got his chicken pox vaccination when he was 8. Under 8YO, chicken pox is annoying, but (mostly) harmless. Over 12, you risk sterility, death, and other stuff. He’s also not getting the HPV, because it seems silly to “prevent” 2 of the 80 strains. My other son got the needle when they wanted to give him the nasal polio vaccine; the only reason I wanted the needle is because my mom reads MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report — it’s an optimistic newsletter)… and they found… Read more »

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Patricia
Member
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Thank you thormj – excellent post in all respects.

bajapete
Member
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bajapete

Back in 2010 life for me was perfect. I was living in a ocean front condo and running up 30 flights of stairs every other day and I my weight decreased from 240 to 210. Then one day I got winded just moving a couple of boxes around in my garage for 5 minutes. Went to the doctor and found out I had stage 4 lymphoma and the large octopus like tumor in my abdomen was the reason I lost the weight as the tumor was eating up a lot of calories. 2 years of subsequent treatment with chemo and… Read more »

arch1
Member
👍7784

Self medications are great,,,,if you do not need them. IMHO

Patricia
Member
👍689

Congratulations bajapete on your successful course of treatment, but cancer is not just something that happens to people on a random basis. I hope that you’ll look to what caused yours in the first place, and make the lifestyle changes you need to so you never have to go through that again. Think of all the substances which are known carcinogens and eliminate all products, foods, and drinks which contain them from your life to the greatest possible extent. Drink purified water like R/O or distilled if you don’t already. Maximize your nutrient intake to strengthen your immune system. I… Read more »

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Max Batista
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Max Batista

Apologies is advance for unsolicited cross talk: An interesting, albeit upstream-ish post – I’d suggest some alternative views, but will limit myself to one of your assertions. Your longevity (& the health of family/loved ones) cannot possibly be taken out of context, & is beyond the sway of observer bias -,your cohort decided against vaccine conventions, enjoyed, in aggregate, the provacativly diminished risk of catastrophic illness by virtue of allowing the vast majority of your.community assume the low, but non-zero risk of the vaccination side effects. The avg. life span has, since the decade of your birth, more than doubled.… Read more »

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ecraig
Member
👍5
ecraig

Happy New Year, The ad just above this Comment section is a promo on the coming nuclear super cycle and the opportunities in uranium stocks. Given the pressures from the climate change promoters and last months Paris Accord, it seems like nuclear may be ready for another run as a baseline supplier to the peaks and ebbs of ‘renewable energy sources’. Nick Hodges is also promoting the same opportunities in ‘The Early Advantage’ in Energy and Capital, with Putin/Russian control of uranium production in Kazakstan as the rationale for the potential upside (http://www.angelnexus.com/o/web/90651). I hope Travis might unleash his Thinkolater… Read more »

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Patricia
Member
👍689

You can search this site and find that Travis has covered uranium supercycle pitches pretty well. I expect a long term uptrend myself, though whether it matches the previous one in scale is impossible to tell. I think it turns mainly on safety: are there any unbiased nuclear engineers reading this, willing to comment on the veracity of claims that if the Fukashima reactor had been built with current, safe technology, there would have been no disaster (nuclear contamination)? Because if that’s really the case, then nuclear power will be the clean energy alternative impossible to ignore. At this point… Read more »

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Brainbox
Guest
Brainbox

Thanks Travis for all your fantsdtic research throughtout 2015. I have just been invited to subscribe to 3 robotics companies touted by Jason Stutman of Angel Publishing & promisimg to make me as rich as someone who invested in Microsoft, Dell or Apple when they were start up companies. Any ideas on which companies he`s teasing?

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paulwyman
Member
👍8
paulwyman

Thanks Travis for your tip on EARS for the tinnitus drug teased by Money Map Press. I kept an eye on EARS as it jumped up on Dec 24-2015 and was also unphased by the downdraft yesterday (Jan4-2016). So I got in early today and my trade is already heading toward a 25% gain by mid-session. Thank again!

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SoGiAm
Member
👍11365

LTNC-Is my winning equity for 2015 and in fact saved my portfolio with 1200% gain. The CEO @CRyanShandel is the most transparent CEO I know on twitter. He will be giving a #periscope presentation today after the market closes: Exciting $LTNC News to be released via #periscope @CRyanSchadel Thursday at 4PM.https://periscope.tv/ pic.twitter.com/BeLTvIGrWQ This is a tiny company with HUGE potential. I realize the I am posting among the finest and most savvy investors in the world because it is at stockgumshoe.com The real winners here are you and I because we are members of the greatest investor Gummunity. Best2YouAlways-Ben