2016 Turkey of the Year

Who wins the coveted Turkey of the Year award for the worst teaser pick of the past twelve months?

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, November 22, 2016

I love Thanksgiving. I love that we all try to remember to slow down our lives a little bit, spend time with family and friends, and give thanks for the incredible blessings most of us enjoy and take for granted.

But I also love naming our annual “Turkey” teaser stock.

What is this? Well, if you haven’t been around these parts for long it’s the continuation of a tradition that started in November of 2008, when Stock Gumshoe was about a year and a half old. Here’s how I described it back then:

“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.”

Seeking out these Turkeys is made easier by our tracking spreadsheets, of course, which we’ve been keeping since we started solving these teasers for you in 2007… so we know which stocks were hinted at and teased as “God’s gift to the individual investor” over the years, and we know exactly what happened to them after that. You can browse those spreadsheets yourself if you like, they’re all on our Teaser Tracking page here, so you can also sniff around and see if your Turkey is different than mine this year.

So it’s not just that we identify the worst teaser pick of the past twelve months — though usually the Turkey is one of the worst few picks (there are almost always a couple stocks that are teased by newsletters which fall by at least 90% in any given year, and typically at least one that falls by 99 or 100% and disappears into bankruptcy). The Turkey has to stand out, too, for the absurdity of the newsletter ad’s promise when contrasted with the actual stock’s performance — you’re not going to win “Turkey of the Year” if you promise 20% gains and your stock falls by 90%… you need to promise us that crazy thousand-percent gains are right around the corner, and you need to make that promise with a straight face.

There are a few stocks that were picked over the last year or so that could make the cut in a normal year… going back to the very beginning of our sample period, we’ve got Anavex (AVXL), subject to absurd promises about its Alzheimer’s Disease drug from Ray Blanco at Agora’s FDA Trader just before Halloween in 2015, and Second Sight Medical (EYES), picked by Greg Miller at VentureCap Strategist at about the same time — both of those are down more than 60%.

But weak performance from a couple speculative and over-promoted biotechs doesn’t cut it this year, we need something bigger.

Natcore (NXT.V, NTCXF), which has been teased many times by Angel Publishing over the years, had a rough year as well — but that one’s been up and down for five years, thanks in part to those Green Chip Stocks folks, so even though we were told it holds the key to endless energy, and even though it’s down 60% in a year since they pitched it back in the Fall of 2015, and 50% since they teased it again in February, that ain’t enough.

Who else came close that might have pontificated on powerful promises more recently? Well, we’ve got Ernie Tremblay with a couple weak biotech stocks — he promised riches for Transenterix (TRXC) as the “bionic surgeon” whose FDA approval was “imminent” back in January… and that might have been enough to get his name engraved on the coveted Turkey statuette, but he started aggressively pitching that stock when it was around $2 and it has only fallen to about $1.65 now… so we give him a little pass on a technicality on that one, even though he was even more aggressively pitching the same stock up until the eve of the FDA’s expected response when the stock was near $5 a share and it’s down dramatically from that price. Plus, to be fair, the FDA rejection was a pretty big surprise to most folks on that particular bionic surgery tool.

And Tremblay also has the worst performer among the very recent teaser picks — I hate to name a “Turkey” only a month after it was first teased, an October teaser pick should really be a candidate for the following year’s Turkey of the Year contest, but his promotion of Cempra (CEMP) as the savior for sufferers of “Old Man’s Friend” was surely a stinker… and the FDA hasn’t even given a decision on that antibiotic yet, the stock has fallen because of contract manufacturing worries and, more importantly, because the FDA’s advisory committee was very concerned about some toxicity issues and just barely voted to recommend approval, so that makes investors start to shrink the potential market for the drug even before we learn about whether the FDA will actually approve it in December. Still, being down 60%+ in less than a month is a strong argument for Cempra to make it onto the podium.

As always, we had a few real “penny stocks” at the bottom of the tracking spreadsheets as well — no junior gold miners this time, thanks to the upsurge in gold stocks in the first half of this year, but several other teensy guys are contenders… including a couple silly penny picks from Alex Koyfman, like Bee Vectoring Technologies (BEE.V, BEVVF), which was pitched as a solution to “Einstein’s Prophecy”, and his lower-key tease about the artificial diamond stock Scio Diamond Technology (SCIO). But those were ridiculously small stocks, most folks would not have taken them seriously anyway.

And last year’s teaser about MagneGas (MNGA) came close as well — that was a pretty ridiculous story, about how somehow artificial gas for welding that’s made out of trash was going to revolutionize the energy industry, pitched by Dr. Kent Moors as a “hotter than the sun” gas molecule with the headline that “there’s never been a moneymaking situation quite like this in the entire history of energy!” That stock has been down pretty sharply over the past year, losing 75% since the teaser ad was covered here for the Gumshoe Faithful.

But unfortunately for MagneGas, it couldn’t hold a candle to the teaser pitch that Dr. Moors had started up about a month earlier, almost exactly a year ago… and that, as longtime Gumshoe readers will probably have guessed by now, is where we find our winner: Dr. Kent Moors and his “sand power” pitch about SunEdison (was SUNE, now SUNEQ).

If you don’t remember that particular story, SunEdison was once the silicon wafer company MEMC Electronic Materials and it went from making the wafers for others to making its own sol