One thousand and eighty-nine.
That’s the number of trades and investment recommendations sent from Legacy Research and our partners in 2023.
That’s across 44 publications.
It includes six entry-level newsletters…
Twenty-two Big picture or themed advisories…
And it includes 16 short-term trading services.
The question is: how can the “regular Joe” reader possibly keep track of all the trades and ideas… judge their performance… or even act on them?
The answer is you can’t.
That’s a problem. And it needs to change.
And so, from January 2024, it will.
In a way that we hope will help build a greater level of trust between you and our business.
We’ll explain everything below. But before we get to that, let’s quickly check in on today’s market action…
The S&P 500 closed up 0.4% to end the day at 4,604.38… the Nasdaq added 0.5% to close at 14,403.97.
In commodities, today’s prices and the gain or fall over yesterday, West Texas Intermediate crude oil trades at $71.19, up $1.51 cents…
Gold is $2,018.50 per troy ounce, down $27.60…
And bitcoin is $44,371, up $1,108 from yesterday.
Now, back to our story…
Before we get to the details, it’s important to provide some context to what our business is about to do.
One of the biggest problems with the financial publishing industry is the lack of accountability for performance.
It has a reputation for just throwing out a bunch of trade or investment ideas, hoping they turn out well, and then moving on to the next one.
Don’t worry about whether the reader is actually getting a great quality product… just make sure they perceive it as a great quality product.
We’re not saying (in our view) that Legacy Research has done that. But without thinking about the accountability of performance, it’s easy to fall into that trap.
To help you understand it, this problem tends to fall into three categories:
Denial (“Don’t worry, everything will be fine. Honest.”)
Excuses (“If only the market had done what I expected it to do!”)
D.E.C… They are all bad habits. A business – and you as a subscriber – should never want to see these things happen.
While they’re all pretty bad, the last is arguably the worst. So make sure you read through to the end of this essay.
Lesson #1 – Don’t be in Denial
The first category is those newsletter writers who are in permanent denial about their track record.
We’ve seen this before. It can happen in any market, but we see it most often in a sideways or bear market. And it can happen across all investment types.
Whether that’s commodities stocks, tech stocks, income stocks, or options trading… it can happen anywhere.
We remember a specific example from around 10 years ago. A colleague had caught the commodities bull market from 2009 to 2011. Pretty much every recommendation he picked went up.
He was in regular contact with the companies. He went on multiple site visits to mines and rigs. He attended lunches and dinners.
When he called the companies, they picked up the phone, or they returned his calls in a flash…
But by 2012, the commodity boom had ended… And those companies that were so eager before stopped answering the phone… and never returned his calls.
But still, he stuck with it… convinced these commodities stocks would turn around. They didn’t.
It was tragic. The portfolio suffered… the track record suffered… and worst of all, the subscribers suffered.
After a couple of years of big triple-digit percentage gains… the track record turned mostly into big double-digit percentage losses.
Never be in denial. It never ends well.
Lesson #2 – Don’t make Excuses, please
The second type is the newsletter writer who makes excuses. Their recommendations would have been right if not for…
It’s an endless list… Congress, the Federal Reserve, Bill Gates, George Soros, speculators, the markets… the manipulators… the market makers on the exchanges… and so on.
For a long time, Dr. Ben S. Bernanke (former chairman of the Federal Reserve) was the bane of every bearish trader. They were convinced the market should keep falling in 2009… what with all the debt and all.
But that same debt and the money-printing kept pushing the market higher. It wasn’t the traders’ fault for being bearish and missing the gains, it was Bernanke’s fault for propping up the market.
When it comes to making excuses, everyone is to blame except for the newsletter writer…
Lesson #3 – Don’t be a “Churner”
Finally, arguably the worst is churning, or over-trading. It’s easy to “hide” bad performance. If you churn through enough trades, at some point you’re bound to get lucky.
Unfortunately, the lucky trades will never outnumber the bad trades.
But the “churning” newsletter writer hopes the reader won’t notice. Because all the bad trades are never around long enough. And of course, new subscribers take a while to notice.
When they join, the portfolio looks perfectly fine… there aren’t any losers!
It’s only as the losing trades mount up, and then disappear from the portfolio… and the reader notices their brokerage account getting smaller and smaller… that the reader catches on to what’s happening.
Plus, the level of activity and excitement can cause the reader to perhaps think it’s their fault… that they weren’t quick enough to make the trades… if only they’d gotten into the trades earlier… and sold earlier.
If they’d done all that, surely the track record would be fine.
Again, we’ve seen this happen before.
And it can be easy to miss unless you’re paying attention. Especially as the over-trading newsletter writer will make sure to crow as loud as they can when they get the odd winner here and there.
In fairness, the investor can fall into these traps too. Investors can “churn” their own portfolios without any outside help. That’s usually due to the urge to do something… anything… “Gotta make a trade!”
And investors can themselves get so emotionally attached to an idea, that they put themselves in denial… and make excuses for why a stock that’s down 95% will make a comeback… one day… if they live long enough.
The three types are bad enough on their own. Add poor risk management into the mix and the result is almost certain failure.
It’s for that reason, that Legacy Research is making a change to the way we share our performance with you. It will be in a way to make us and our experts more accountable to you.
In January 2024, Legacy Research will introduce a new membership benefit, that will be available to all our subscribers…
We will begin publishing the Legacy Research Annual Report Card…
A New Era of Investment Accountability
We’d like to take credit for this idea. But the truth is, the founder of our business, Porter Stansberry, began publishing a report card more than 15 years ago at Stansberry Research.
It was, and still is, unique in the financial publishing industry. And from January, Legacy Research will publish our own version of the Report Card.
It will provide a no-holds-barred review of how each of the investment and trading services have performed during a given period.
It will include active services and those services we’ve closed. And we’ll explain in more detail why we closed a service. At times, that may be uncomfortable for us… maybe even a little embarrassing.
We will rate each service using set criteria, and just like in school, each service will receive a grade. We haven’t decided on the final system of rating. It could be a rating from A+ through to F… or it could be a numbered score.
Whatever we decide, the aim will be to make it as easy to understand as possible and allow you to compare the performance of one service against another.
In addition, we’ll explain what the service got right, and what it got wrong. Just as importantly, we’ll judge it by how it should have performed given the circumstances – a weighted grade if you will.
For instance, in a bear market, you wouldn’t expect small-cap stocks to do well. So we may cut that service a little slack… providing it’s using sound risk management tools.
By the same token, if the same small-cap service underperforms by a large degree during a raging bull market, we’ll want to understand why and how it missed out on making gains. Especially if underperforms the benchmark against which we judge it.
The Right Time
Releasing an annual report card will be an important innovation for Legacy Research.
Our experts and their analysts will have nowhere to hide. They will be judged on the performance of their ideas, not just their ideas alone.
We believe it will force them to pay even closer attention to risk management and portfolio performance.
And of course, this is a competitive environment with competitive people. No one wants to score a D- or an F. We know for sure that our experts will want straight A’s… maybe as low as a B-.
But to get that, they’ll need to prove to us they deserve it.
Now, we’re sure in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “The fix is in. Kris will give them all an A.”
Even attempting to do so would be the biggest trust-killer. We know you’re not dumb. Any attempt to fudge the numbers would be obvious, and you would be able to see right through it.
That’s not to say that you’ll agree with our grades. We’re sure there will be disagreements on that. And as always, you’re free to write to me directly about it. You can do so by sending an email right to my inbox: [email protected]
Also, there will be an element of subjectivity in the grades we give. But that will be limited. For the most part, we’ll make it as objective as possible… how many winners, how many losers, average returns, performance against a benchmark, and so on.
These are all metrics where we can set a scale so that it limits subjectivity.
Anyway, we wanted to share this with you. We’re doing it now, because we feel it’s the right time to do it, and it’s the right thing to do.
The Legacy Research Annual Report Card will, we hope, help to raise the bar on the level of trust between us and you (you, who are the most important part of our business).
The initial plan is to release the Report Card over three issues from mid- to late January. We’ll provide more details soon.
Again, if you have any feedback, please let us know at the email address above. Those emails come directly to your editor’s inbox. They don’t go via a customer service team.
I can’t reply to them directly, but I do read each one… And I’ll address your concerns where possible in future issues.
You’re familiar with how testimonials work. Subscribers write us, tell us how much they enjoy our work, and how much money they’ve made from our recommendations.
You’ll see them regularly in both our editorial content and our sales promotions. Sometimes these testimonials are unsolicited… folks write in because they want to share their experience with us.
Other times we solicit them. If a trade does well, we’ll ask subscribers to tell us how much they made and what they plan to do with the proceeds.
Like all testimonials, they can help you decide whether something is worth trying, based on the experience of others.
From time to time, we’ve received negative feedback. Some of that has been unsolicited… folks writing in because they want to share their experience with us.
But more recently, we’ve solicited negative feedback. In a way, you could say these are “anti-testimonials.” And they have really been the inspiration for us to publish the Legacy Research Annual Report Card.
A selection of some of that feedback follows:
All your company does is take my money and run and underdeliver. I hope you read this email but I have my doubts. I know you will not reply because you even stated that you will not reply to messages. That is the whole problem with your company, all you do is take and never listen or be honest with your members.
– Norman B.
Another complaint is the number of different services each analyst offers… [It’s] absolutely impossible to try and follow along… In this market, I would like to see each analyst give us their top 5 recommendations. Anyhow I sure hope you can fix these problems!
– Scot S.
I read with great interest your response to Ray D. While his experience has apparently been rather worse than mine, if he was invested in all of the Brownstone Research bio-tech recommendations as I was, I can believe that he may well have been ‘killed’ as he has described.
– Greg H.
The advice given to us was to hold without stops. Well shame on me. That will never happen again. I now start selling when the losses approach 35-50% regardless of the published recommendations.
– Alan G.
We won’t deny that it makes for uncomfortable reading. But what’s the point of doing any of this if we ignore it?
All we’ll say is that we hope and believe some of the changes we’ve already made will address some of these comments.
We take on board Norman’s point about not listening and not being honest with subscribers. The point about not listening is probably fair, although we would push back on the honesty charge. But if that’s how it has come across, we’re changing that.
Scot’s point about being able to clearly see the top five recommendations is a great idea. We’ll pass that idea along and ask them to implement it.
As it happens, in the latest issue of the Palm Beach Letter, Teeka Tiwari lays out his three key themes for 2024 and highlights his top picks for each of those themes. That should be a big help for long-time and new subscribers to that service.
As for Greg’s comments about the biotech stocks. Those picks did turn into the proverbial train wreck. There’s no doubt the pandemic played havoc with their funding and trials.
But we’ve just checked the performance of those biotech stocks since Colin Tedards recommended getting out of them in July. Of the 23 positions sold, 13 of them have fallen further.
And overall, the investor would be worse off still holding them compared to selling them five months ago.
Last, to respond to Alan G. about risk management. That’s a sound strategy. Of course, now most of our stock services publish stop-loss levels for most recommendations. So this should no longer be an issue.
We’re also convinced that publishing an annual report card will make our experts and analysts even more conscious about their track records and risk management.
Anyway, the self-flagellation will stop soon. We’ll focus more on the positives and the solutions. But this has been part of the process.
We hope you’ve found it valuable.
Our main task at the Daily Cut is to try to “connect the dots.” That is, we help you figure out what events are about, what makes them important, what their consequences are, and what it all means for you.
But sometimes, we see the individual “dots,” but can’t yet figure out how they connect to anything. Maybe they never will connect to anything.
Regardless, if those unconnected dots feel as though they could be important, we’ll mention them here. And we’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
Today’s unconnected dots…
This week we’ve pondered the chances of a “Santa Claus” rally, and equally, the chances of a booming stock market in 2024.
The short answer is, we’re skeptical. We note this report from Bloomberg:
Treasury yields surged as traders pared expectations for the Federal Reserve to ease monetary policy aggressively next year after a better-than-forecast jobs report.
Benchmark two-year yields, those most closely tied to the outlook for U.S. central bank policy, rose as much as 14 basis points, the most in a day since June. Rates across the maturity spectrum were higher by at least eight basis points on the day.
Swaps traders scaled back bets on how much the Fed will cut rates next year, pricing in about 110 basis points of easing, down from more than 120 basis points. The employment report said nonfarm payrolls increased by 199,000 last month vs economists’ 185,000 median estimate while the unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 3.7% as workforce participation edged up.
But our take is just a gut feeling. Others – such as controversial Australian economist, Phil Anderson – believe 2024 will be a good year for stocks.
You’ll hear more from Phil on this subject next week.
Today’s top gaining ETFs…
Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK) +3.8%
Siren Nasdaq NexGen Economy ETF (BLCN) +3.4%
iShares U.S. Broker-Dealers & Securities Exchanges ETF (IAI) +1.5%
SPDR S&P Semiconductor ETF (XSD) +1.5%
Invesco Dorsey Wright Technology Momentum ETF (PTF) +1.3%
Today’s biggest-losing ETFs…
KraneShares MSCI China Clean Technology ETF (KGRN) -2.8%
VanEck Gold Miners ETF (GDX) -2.1%
U.S. Global GO Gold and Precious Metals Miners ETF (GOAU) -1.8%
Global X MSCI China Consumer Discretionary ETF (CHIQ) -1.7%
iShares MSCI South Africa ETF (EZA) -1.6%
If you have any questions or comments for our experts here at Legacy Research, we’d love to hear from you.
Write to us at [email protected] and just type “Daily Cut mailbag” in the subject line.
Editor, The Daily Cut