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Lucca 27
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Lucca 27
January 31, 2009 10:35 am

I subscribe to PRO, Stock Advisor, Million Dollar Portfolio, Global Gains, Hidden Gems and Rule Breakers and will post this review on all the sites. In general I found the letters useful for ideas in an up market, but not terribly helpful in our current down market. I found some excellent companies like DWSN, EDU & CTRP that I would not otherwise have looked at. Sell recommendations usually come too late and analysts tend to fall in love with stocks and catch “falling knives”. For example the repeated recommendations of Select Comfort, Irwin Financial, First Marblehead all the way down and then the final sell recommendation at much lower prices that had been recommended a few months earlier. There seems to be a reluctance to say do nothing and wait. Recent recommendation after recommendation is substantially under water.

In general Fool is an excellent source of information on a wide variety of financial subjects and the authors seem to be competent and professional. “The Boards” can be a useful source of information and opinion, however slogging through them is tedious because there are a lot of junk postings wherein people tell the reader what they are buying (not why) and criticizing other posters, a situation that breaks into a brushfire that overwhelms a posting site for a day or two.

Unfortunately the web sites for each of the portfolios, while consistent on a stand alone basis, are a total mess when one subscribes to several newsletters. Each letter ranks performance differently. No letter as far as I can ascertain includes dividends in calculation returns, a substantial flaw in assessing the performance of a stock.

The “cafertia” approach of the newsletters is also annoying – the same stock may be recommended in two different newsletters and checking the boards requires going to three different boards to get updates. The non-subscriber board and then each of the two different subscriber boards.

All in all I do not believe that the price of any individual newsletter, each of which is a niche letter, is worth it unless one is a substantial investor, as am I, although far less substantial than a year ago. I am not going to renew any of my newsletters, except PRO which I like because it discusses options.

All in all Fool is pretty good, but it presents a conundrum. The service is intended to educate unsophisticated investors, at which it does a good job, but it is so expensive as a percentage of assets that unless a subscriber has several hundred thousand of dollars to invest they would do better in a basket of index funds. I would recommend that a new investor without a substantial portfolio subscribe to one of the services for a year or two to get some education and then go on to one of the many free sites that provide all sorts of ideas and their own boards.

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Andrea
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Andrea
February 3, 2009 1:30 am