Navellier and Mechel — Cautionary Tale

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, July 29, 2008

Greetings from the road, everyone — my time is limited today so I’m sharing a very interesting comment that a reader sent in … we’ll call him Carlo.

Carlo looked into Louis Navellier’s recent history with the formerly highflying Russian steel (and coal) stock, Mechel (MTL). This was also a Robert Hsu pick for a while, I’m told (Hsu and Navellier have the same publisher), but the same little birdie also told me that Hsu sold his Mechel at a very lucky time. Navellier apparently didn’t (I have no way of knowing for sure), though I imagine he has probably sold it by now.

I’m sharing this note just to offer yet another little cautionary tale — Navellier’s system is built on earnings momentum and growth, among other similar quantitative measures, and like any other system it can fall prey to big downside surprises. MTL’s was essentially political in nature, which means it probably shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise in Russia, but one can never quite predict where bad news will come from … and stocks like this that build a following among growth and momentum investors can fall much harder than most when those surprises do occur.

I’ve never lookd at Mechel in any detail and don’t know whether the severely beaten down price now is an opportunity, but if you have an opinion feel free to share.

Here, without further ado, is Carlo’s compilation of Navellier’s notes about Mechel over the last couple months — if you’ve got a chance, go back and read over them … would you have been convinced that this was a great stock to buy?

MTL today (07/29) is still going down … $18 and counting.

Again, I don’t really mean to single out Louis Navellier, though he’s one of the more aggressive advertisers and I write about him quite a bit — just wanted to share Carlo’s walk down memory lane, and offer a little sober reminder that very few systems are really effective at predicting the bad news shocks that occasionally hit the companies we know and love.


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Big Mo
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Big Mo

JohnnyB, you are right. The investment letter writers are basically in it for themselves (though there are a few exceptions). One thousand subscribers at $200 apiece is a cool $200,000. Spamming costs nothing. Think about it. Is it any different from the old ads that claimed “Make $6,000/month in your spare time at home stuffing envelopes. Send me $20 to find out how.” Or “How I made $1 million in real estate in 18 months with no money and no experience. Send $50 for my information kit.” If the stock picker, the real estate expert, and every other get-rich-quick hypster… Read More »

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womanwithportfolio
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Hello, fellow Gummies. Long time no see. I just wanted to put in a word for three aspects of investing that have been slammed of late ( often for good reason, I admit). One is the “story,” the other “fundamentals,” and the other is “buy and hold.” When a market is in volatile bear territory, there is often little rhyme or reason to why stocks get bought and sold, other than momentum, sector swing and herd instinct, as well as black-hole hedge fund action, in which case both the story and the impetus to hold for a better day are… Read More »

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womanwithportfolio
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Farley, I agree that simply indexing the S&P is not the way to riches, though using dollar-cost averaging over the past ten years would improve your results over a lump sum initial investment, and considering dividend reinvestment, you’d have made money on your simple S&P index. And you wouldn’t have been hammered as hard by the huge losses some folks experienced in the dotcom bust, discouraging them from the market for good. There is a smart way to indexing, which many successful institutional investors use, and which individuals can use as well. You can use ETFs as well as funds,… Read More »

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Donato
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To Woman With Portfolio . . .
Those were two very well put posts’. It has taken me awhile, but I’ve come to accept the fact that successful investing in the stock market (for me anyway) is a combination of using the technicals, fundamentals, value investing, and trends.

As long as I use those four concepts in somewhat equal portions, I make money.

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Lawless
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Lawless

I got stopped out of Mechel long before Navellier recommended to sell. I’m glad I didn’t follow Navellier’s recommendation of not using stop losses.

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womanwithportfolio
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With regard to institutions shifting to indexing, here’s a recent development. The Massachusetts state pension fund pulled $2 billion in assets from Legg Mason Inc.’s Bill Miller and four other firms as part of a plan to shift all U.S. equity assets from managers who actively pick stocks to buy and sell. The board of the $50.6 billion pension fund approved the switch at a meeting today, citing “inconsistent performance,” said Francy Ronayne, a spokeswoman for Massachusetts Treasurer Timothy Cahill in Boston. The money was assigned to portfolios run by State Street Corp. and three hedge funds that are designed… Read More »

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Gravity Switch
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WWP — Certainly that’s the basic strategy that probably most folks should start with, at least (though it’s hard in years like these, the anomaly years when actively managed funds on average beat the index). If your goal is to beat the market, you have to at least start by doing as well as the market, which is surprisingly difficult to do on a consistent basis.