Having spent the past 19 years in the financial publishing industry, we’ve heard and seen it all.
We’ve seen the gains…
… And the losses…
We’ve received the praise (both from inside and outside the business)…
… And heard frustrations (both from inside and outside the business)…
But one of the biggest frustrations we’ve heard from subscribers is this:
Despite the higher cost, premium-level research services often fail to produce better results than the less expensive entry-level services.
In the spirit of openness, you’ll see evidence of that today.
During the period covered by this Report Card, Legacy Research closed four premium-level investment services.
The main reason for closing those services was down to one thing: performance… specifically, the lack of a good performance.
But again, as awkward as it may be for us (and possibly for you too if you subscribed to those services), we’ve included them in this Report Card.
And we’ve explained why those services didn’t succeed, as well as showing their performances against their respective benchmarks.
All this to say, it’s another reason why this Report Card is so valuable.
It helps better align our track records and your “user experience.” If a service doesn’t perform well, it will either drive that expert and their analysts to improve… or we’ll shutter the service.
Ultimately, we want to be in a position where most of our services deliver positive returns… where they’re beating benchmarks… and where the performance of the premium-level services mostly outperforms their entry-level counterparts.
(By the way, that won’t always be possible. Due to the niche nature of premium-level services, they can run “under par” until the trend they’ve identified plays out. So we don’t want to be too harsh or too quick to close an underperforming service.)
But in this Report Card, for one service, performance hasn’t been a problem at all. It has outperformed in every way possible:
It has beaten the total return of the benchmark asset
It has beaten the weighted return of the benchmark asset
It has beaten the performance of the S&P 500
It has beaten the performance of all other premium-level investment services we publish
It has beaten the performance of all the entry-level services we publish
It beat the Bloomberg Equity Long/Short Hedge Fund Index – which only returned 9.5% over the same time frame
It beat gold, which only gained 23%
And it beat oil, which fell 17%
That’s why as soon as we saw the performance result, it was a no-brainer for a straight-up A+. We’ll reveal which publication we’re talking about shortly.
And if you don’t currently subscribe to it, we would recommend getting on the phone with our Customer Service team as soon as you finish this Report Card to ask them more about the service.
We’ll give you their direct line at the end of this report. But before we get to that, a brief summary of what went into putting this Report Card together…
How We Put This Together
In Part I of the Report Card, we explained the full details of how we constructed it.
We explained the methods used… the data we relied on… the interpretations we’ve made… and how we settled on the individual grades.
So if you need a refresher, go here to read part one.
If you’re now ready to continue, we’ll first cover one aspect that’s slightly different from how we measured the entry-level services.
For those services, we compared all returns to the S&P 500. We figured that’s the most well-known index. It would be easy for both the novice and experienced investor to understand the comparison.
Here, with our premium-level services, we’ve assumed a higher level of knowledge. That has allowed us to use alternative benchmarks other than the S&P 500.
The other reason for using alternative benchmarks is that our premium-level services tend to be more specialized. That is, they focus on a certain area of the market – such as energy, cryptocurrencies, or technology stocks.
In those cases, it wouldn’t be fair to compare the returns to a broad index. However, if you recall from last week, you’ll remember that during our reference period, the S&P 500 gained 33.3%.
So if you want to keep that at the back of your mind, you can compare the returns against our nominated benchmarks below and against the broader market.
We’ll list the benchmarks we used below the table, for your reference.
And so, with that explanation taken care of, let’s look at our Legacy Research Annual Report Card for our premium-level services…
The 2024 Legacy Research Annual Report Card
* Benchmark is Bitcoin
** Benchmark is iShares Russell 2000 Growth ETF (IWO)
*** Benchmark is iShares Microcap ETF (IWC)
**** Benchmark is the S&P 500
^ Benchmark is the iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG)
^^ Benchmark is the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE)
^^^ Benchmark is the Gold Miners Index ETF (GDX)
# Benchmark is the Renaissance IPO ETF (IPO)
## Benchmark is the Russell 2000 index
### Benchmark is the iShares Micro-Cap ETF (IWC)
And now we’ll go through the individual results and the thinking behind why each service received the grade it did. We start with hands-down the best-performing service in this category…
Palm Beach Crypto Income
It’s impossible to fault anything with the work Greg Wilson has done in Palm Beach Crypto Income.
This service targets the income opportunities available in crypto assets. And the fact that it generated a 169% return during our reference period, shows you the unique nature of crypto investing.
The main focus of Crypto Income is the decentralized finance (DeFi) aspect of cryptos. Here, despite the gains, the focus isn’t just on capital gain, it’s on the income – what Greg refers to as “royalties.”
The way these royalties work is that instead of the crypto project paying investors a cash dividend, they pay out more crypto.
And because these payouts often occur daily (unlike a stock dividend, which you typically receive quarterly), you benefit from almost instant compounding.
Because each time you earn a royalty in the form of more crypto, you immediately earn more crypto “royalties” on the new crypto you’ve just received as income.
For that reason, it’s no wonder Palm Beach Crypto Income has produced the best returns of any service so far in our Report Cards (that includes the entry-level publications we profiled last week).
During our reference period, the Palm Beach Crypto Income service generated an average return of 169%. That’s more than doubling, and almost tripling, your money – all from what is essentially an income service.
Better than that, Greg’s picks also outperformed the Bitcoin price – the benchmark against which we judged Greg’s performance. The total Bitcoin return was 122%, and the weighted return was 92%.
If this service aimed to provide a better return than just owning Bitcoin, this publication succeeded.
And don’t underestimate what that means. Over the years, we’ve spoken with several traders and crypto investors who tell us about their terrific gains.
But when we compare their active trading style against a simple buy-and-hold-bitcoin strategy, we haven’t yet seen one that does better than just holding Bitcoin.
Well here, Greg has not only beaten Bitcoin, but he’s socked one in the eye to Bitcoin traders by doing it with an income service!
An outstanding result by Greg. For that reason, we easily give Palm Beach Crypto Income an A+. Greg Wilson can be proud of his track record and performance.
(We genuinely recommend calling our experienced Customer Service team to ask them about joining the Palm Beach Crypto Income service. You can call them here at 1-888-501-2598. The phone lines are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday.)
Palm Beach Pioneer
We launched Palm Beach Pioneer at the end of January 2023. So it had just over 11 months of track record for our report card.
The man behind Palm Beach Pioneer is Graham Friedman. Graham has a long background in venture capital. Now he spends much of his time focusing on the new opportunities in crypto and Web3.
Palm Beach Pioneer’s focus is on the smaller crypto opportunities. Mainly those projects involved in developing the next phase of the internet (Web3) and the metaverse.
So how has the track record performed so far?
Well, it has a 71% win rate, making it one of the best win rate track records in this group of publications.
As for the returns, it returned an average gain of 59%. An excellent return. Best of all, it beat the weighted benchmark return (Bitcoin), which would have returned 57% if you had invested in Bitcoin rather than each of Graham’s picks.
However, despite that, overall it couldn’t match Bitcoin’s total return. Between the launch of Palm Beach Pioneer and the end of 2023, Bitcoin gained 84%.
So Pioneer missed out on beating Bitcoin returns overall.
But, despite missing that mark, it’s hard to knock a service that records an average gain of 59% in a little over 11 months. We’re certain any investor would take those gains in a heartbeat.
For that reason, we believe Palm Beach Pioneer deserves an A- grade.
Exponential Tech Investor
Next, Exponential Tech Investor. This is the service fronted by our technology investment expert, Colin Tedards.
The focus is on small and mid-cap technology stocks… targeting those companies at the “bleeding edge” of new tech trends. That includes companies directly driving those trends, and those providing a service to or supporting those trends.
Given the nature of these investments (often, speculations) you don’t expect to see a high win rate. Depending on the overall market conditions, you should look for a win rate anywhere between 40-60%.
Naturally, the lower the win rate, the larger the gains need to be from winning stocks to outweigh any losses.
So here, we’re close to the lower bound, with a win rate of just over 43%. Not ideal, but just about acceptable. But how did the track record shape up during our reference period from October 12, 2022, to December 31, 2023?
The answer is that overall, it performed very well, beating the benchmark. In this case, because most of the recommendations in Exponential Tech Investor are small or mid-cap tech, we chose to benchmark against the iShares Russell 2000 Growth ETF (IWO).
This index ETF invests in more than 1,000 small-cap growth stocks within the Russell 2000 index. Holdings include companies such as Rambus Inc (RMBS), Fabrinet (FN), and Fluor Corp (FLR).
The Exponential Tech Investor service outperformed the index on both the total return and the weighted return.
The average return for the Exponential Tech Investor picks was 26.9%. That compares to a 21.2% total return for the benchmark index and a 13.1% return for the weighted index.
So in both cases, an investor would have been better off following this service’s recommendations than buying a similar index.
In which case, why haven’t we given this publication a higher grade than a C+?
This was a hard decision. Possibly the hardest decision we had to make for this group of services. If this report card was purely about the numbers, with no subjectivity, it would have received at least a B+… more likely an A.
However, one of the subjective elements we must consider is the reader experience. And while the reader experience, based purely on the numbers, appears to be great… we can’t ignore the losses incurred on many of the recommendations leading up to the beginning of our reference period.
That also includes those from the Early Stage Trader biotech service, which merged into this publication.
Risk management is important, and a lack of risk management before 2023 resulted in some big losses.
Maybe we’re being too harsh, given what the numbers show. And we may get criticism for it. But here the subjective elements are relevant. And so, for that reason alone, we’ve had to knock it down several grades to a C+.
The Strategic Trader service has operated under the stewardship of John Pangere for the past five years.
Originally, the service made recommendations on stocks, options, and warrants. But over time, it has evolved to focus purely on warrants.
As far as we’re aware, Strategic Trader is the only investment publication available to retail investors that recommends warrants.
It’s that unique aspect that sets it apart from anything else.
Be warned: investing in warrants isn’t for the nervous investor.
Warrant prices can rise and fall wildly. In the past, some of these trades have fallen by 70% or more… before rebounding to record quadruple-digit percentage gains.
For that reason, in a bear market, it’s typical to see a low win rate in the Strategic Trader portfolio. But in a bull market, that’s where you can see the big returns.
The risk management here is also different from what you see in many investing services. Rather than using stop losses, due to the volatile nature of warrants, John recommends strict position-sizing.
That means only using relatively small investment amounts. Because with the gains available through warrants, you don’t need to take big risks with big stakes.
Overall, during our reference period, Strategic Trader achieved a win rate of 53.5% and an average return of 23.4%. That doubles the benchmark total return of just 12.2% and the benchmark weighted return of 6.5%.
For this service, we used the iShares Microcap ETF (IWC) as the benchmark. This ETF mirrors the performance of the Russell Microcap Index. The largest company in the index is ImmunoGen Inc (IMGN) with a market capitalization of $8 billion.
The next largest is Modine Manufacturing (MOD) with a $3.6 billion market cap.
All up, we’d say this publication meets its objectives of outperforming its benchmark, in what was a super volatile period, and deserves an A grade.
Palm Beach Confidential
Palm Beach Confidential is Legacy Research’s flagship premium-level cryptocurrency investing service. Created initially by one of our founders, Tom Dyson… and later helmed by Teeka Tiwari, Sam Volkering, and Houston Molnar.
This service first recommended Bitcoin and Ethereum to subscribers in 2016. Since then, they have gained 11,257% and 25,286% respectively.
Those are unheard-of gains in the financial publishing industry.
But while these two cryptos are two of the best-performing assets in the history of this newsletter, the main focus of Palm Beach Confidential is the smaller cryptos – the altcoins.
This partly explains why the portfolio lagged behind the performance of the benchmark asset – Bitcoin.
In this instance, the Palm Beach Confidential portfolio had a win rate of 59%. That’s below the average win rate of our premium investment services.
The average return for recommendations in this service, however, was 34%. In all other circumstances, that would be worthy of the top grade.
But here, when we compare it to Bitcoin, we see its price increased by 122% during our reference period. And the weighted return came in at 71%.
So on both measures, the Palm Beach Confidential picks fell short. In many respects, considering the type of cryptos recommended, the underperformance isn’t surprising.
Arguably, we’re still relatively early in the new Bitcoin bull market cycle. The altcoins tend to underperform during that period. It’s only when investors feel as though the momentum behind the Bitcoin price has stalled that they tend to look more closely at the altcoins.
If that happens again, it should result in an improved performance for Palm Beach Confidential over the next year or so.
All that said, while this publication didn’t beat the benchmark, it’s hard to not reward a 34% return. We may be being slightly over-generous here, but we believe a B- grade is well deserved.
The Fortress Portfolio is overseen by Adam Galas, part of the Wide Moat Research team – a group Legacy Research has helped to publish since late 2022.
The simple premise for the Fortress Portfolio is to help investors safely build long-term gains. This follows the “sleep well at night” (SWAN) investing strategy… an approach championed by the top man at Wide Moat Research, Brad Thomas.
We helped launch Fortress Portfolio in January 2023. So the reference period for this service covers almost one year.
It launched with 22 stocks as an effective “instant portfolio”. And through the course of the year, it added five new positions and sold seven. Five of those were for losses.
It has been great working with Adam. He puts incredible energy into his research and shows great enthusiasm for his work. He’s an outstanding analyst… and he has a brain full of data.
So with all that said, it’s difficult, and perhaps unfair, to judge a portfolio service on a single year’s return. Arguably, the fairest time to judge is when the portfolio has had time to show the power of compounding and time.
But we have to draw a line somewhere. Other publications could argue they need more time too.
So how did the Fortress Portfolio shape up? With a 63% win rate and an average return of 4.4%, it underperformed the S&P 500 return of 19.9% and the S&P 500 weighted return of 14.2%.
We know 2023 was a volatile year for stocks… and Fortress Portfolio still made money. But when you consider “risk-free” bonds, such as the I-bond paid above 5% for much of this period, and CDs paid around 5% too, it’s hard to justify a high grade.
Of course, with time and patience, we would expect Adam’s Fortress Portfolio to outperform over the long term. But right now, we have to judge it based on the performance so far.
For that reason, we can only grade it at a D.
High Yield Advisor
If investors have craved anything in the past couple of years, it’s high yields.
High inflation is generally bad news for cash. And higher interest rates are generally bad news for stocks.
So investors have looked for alternatives. That’s why we helped the Wide Moat Research team launch Stephen Hester’s High Yield Advisor service.
Stephen’s background in managing and assessing risk made him the perfect person to front this service.
His main focus is to find quality, under-the-radar, high-yielding investment opportunities that most other analysts ignore… and most investors simply don’t know about.
This includes high-yielding preferred stocks (the yield on his three open positions is an average of 8.4%) and Business Development Companies (BDCs).
An example of a BDC is a company your editor mentioned in the Daily Cut recently – Blue Owl Capital (OBDC). It’s currently trading above Stephen’s recommended buy-up-to price, so it isn’t actionable for new investors.
But the short story is that Blue Owl lends to smaller companies that may find it hard to get financing through other channels. This higher risk allows Blue Owl to charge a higher interest rate, which it can pass on to investors.
Overall, High Yield Advisor has an excellent track record. It has a 100% win rate and has produced an average return of 12.5% across its recommendations.
This compares to the benchmark total return of 15.7% and a benchmark weighted return of 4%. In other words, an investor would have been better off following Stephen’s recommendation each time, rather than investing in the benchmark.
For the benchmark, we chose the iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG). It’s the closest comparison we could find.
Even though there was a slight underperformance compared to the benchmark, we’ve given Stephen a well-deserved A-.
Energy Distortion Monitor
The objective of Energy Distortion Monitor is to help investors profit from the trends taking place in the North American and global energy markets.
This includes looking for opportunities in areas as diverse as oil and natural gas, nuclear, and green energy.
Because while the energy types themselves are vastly different, they have one thing in common: market distortions created by governments.
Whether that’s a government providing subsidies to both the coal sector and green energy at the same time… or other distortions such as not issuing permits… or geopolitical actions abroad which may also impact the energy market.
So, how has Energy Distortion Monitor performed? Overall, it has a 61% win rate, which is just below average for the services in this category.
And during our reference period, it achieved an average return of -1.4%. So just under breakeven. If we compare that to the benchmark Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE), it’s not a huge difference in returns.
The index ETF only recorded a gain of 4.6% during this period. The weighted return of the ETF eked out a tiny 1.2% gain.
Overall, a disappointing result. But given the sector overall greatly underperformed the S&P 500 (which returned 33.3% during our reference period), we can’t downgrade the results too much.
However, it did have a losing record. For that reason, we’ve given it a C-.
Gold Rush Portfolio
The Gold Rush Portfolio didn’t have long to prove its worthiness, seeing as we only launched it in June last year.
This is another “instant portfolio” service. But rather than investing in “sleep well at night” stocks, Nomi Prins and her team selected seven gold stocks for a “set and forget” portfolio.
And being gold stocks, they naturally come with an element of risk.
The premise of this portfolio is to help investors profit from an ongoing period of higher inflation. It assumes the Federal Reserve and central banks around the world will always do whatever it takes to avoid another financial collapse.
The “whatever it takes” will almost certainly mean more innovative ways to print money and a return to lower interest rates.
As for the portfolio, it’s a mix of large-cap and smaller-cap gold stocks.
And since its inception until the end of last year, it has an acceptable track record. Of the seven open positions, five of them were in the money, giving it a win rate of 71.4% and an average return of 10.6%.
That’s a decent return when compared to the benchmark. For this service, we chose the Gold Miners Index ETF (GDX). The GDX recorded a total return of just 3.2% for the reference period. (The weighted return was the same, as all recommendations were made on the same date.)
While it may not have matched the returns of the S&P 500, we believe it has met what it set out to achieve. That is, beating the performance of a benchmark index and helping investors profit from exposure to gold stocks.
As one extra reference point, the gold price increased by just 7.3% over the same period. Investors in gold stocks tend to like to see a higher return for gold stocks compared to gold, given the higher perceived risk. That happened here.
In this case, we’re happy to award Gold Rush Portfolio a deserving B+ grade.
Web3 Dynasty/Unchained Profits
We launched Unchained Profits, now called Web3 Dynasty in 2022. This was a way to attempt to profit from long-term investments in cryptos and from the hype generated at the time for Web3 and the metaverse.
Unfortunately, because the main focus of the service involved making plays on smaller cryptos, even the strong performance of Bitcoin and Ethereum wasn’t enough to provide a genuine boost to the track record.
Overall, it had a win rate of just 50%. As we mentioned above, a low win rate is acceptable if there are enough big winners to outweigh the losers.
That hasn’t happened here. The portfolio generated a return of 16.5%, which was way below the 122% total return for Bitcoin and the weighted return for Bitcoin of 64%.
For that reason, while it generated a positive return, subjectively we would think subscribers would be disappointed not to achieve bigger returns – especially if we compare it to the other crypto services we publish.
The best grade we can give Web3 Dynasty is a D.
Now, that ends the Report Card for our current services. However, during our reference period, we closed some publications.
We’ll now briefly look at the publications we discontinued. First up…
Blank Check Speculator
With the benefit of hindsight, we launched the Blank Check Speculator near the peak of the SPACs (Special Purpose Acquisition Companies) boom.
If you recall, a SPAC is a company specifically set up to seek a business it can acquire.
The constraints are that it has a limited period in which to make an acquisition. And on founding the SPAC, it can’t have a specific acquisition target in mind.
In other words, they can’t say, “We should buy company X, so let’s set up a SPAC to do so.” Instead, you have to set up the SPAC, raise capital from investors, and only then can you identify the target company.
During the early days of the SPAC boom the market, well, it boomed. But after valuations reached overstretched levels, and the number of quality targets started to dry up… the SPAC market entered its own bear market.
That’s reflected in the performance of the SPAC portfolio. And it’s also why we decided to close the service in September 2022, just before the reference period for this Report Card.
However, we still mention it here because while we folded the service, we rolled over the recommendations into the Day One Investor publication. In addition, the recommendations were still active buys.
Overall, the service had a poor track record with just a 37% win rate. And the average return was a very poor -18.4%. This underperformed the benchmark, which was the Renaissance IPO ETF (IPO).
It returned a total gain of 39.7% during the reference period and a smaller weighted return of 1.4%. So such a big loss on the SPAC investments was unacceptable.
That confirms we made the correct decision to close this service. For that reason, it’s easy to justify the F grade.
EV Blueprint/Government Winners & Losers
The intention and even the idea were right. But by the time we launched the originally named EV Blueprint, a lot of the enthusiasm for EVs (electric vehicles) had already passed.
However, because a major premise of the service was the “follow the trail” of government money, and given Nomi Prins’ contact network in Washington D.C., we decided to rename the service to Government Winners & Losers.
Unfortunately, with this change, it soon became clear that the service had little differentiation from Nomi’s other premium services. Due to that, along with a poor track record, we decided to close down the service.
It had a lower-than-expected win rate, and it underperformed the S&P 500 by 20 percentage points, recording an average loss of -2.5%.
Distortion Money Matrix
Distortion Money Matrix was the first premium-level service we launched for Nomi Prins in 2021.
The idea was to expand on the ideas that Nomi presents in her entry-level service, the Distortion Report.
Regrettably, several factors got in the way of this service from the beginning. First was the timing of the launch. It launched in mid-2021, just before the market topped out.
Then, a lack of a full risk management policy meant that the service generated too many losses during its early days.
Finally, when the market recovered, the service wasn’t able to keep pace with the benchmark index – in this case, the Russell 2000.
The service recorded an average loss of -19.4% while the benchmark recorded a gain of 20%. We give it an F grade.
Palm Beach Special Opportunities
The Palm Beach Special Opportunities service was a premium-level small-cap and microcap investing service. The main focus was on medicinal marijuana stocks.
The belief at the time of the launch was that a second wave of federal and state legislation would boost the sector and reward the companies involved.
The timing for that didn’t play out. The service introduced several non-marijuana-related plays, but the market just wasn’t ready for these kinds of speculations at that time.
Overall, the service could only generate a 20% win rate while recording an average loss of -18% and the benchmark returned a tiny 3% gain.
That’s a track record performance far below what you as a subscriber should expect. For that reason, we closed it. It receives an F grade.
That wraps up the Report Card for our premium-level advisories.
We haven’t included Day One Investor, Palm Beach Venture, or Legacy Venture in these results. Simply because their primary focus involves investing in unlisted private deals.
Once more of the deals in these services go public, it will give us a better picture of the success or otherwise of these investments.
We also haven’t published a report card for our new premium investment service, The Weber Report. Chris Weber published a self-critique of his 2023 performance earlier this year. If you subscribe to The Weber Report, you can check out his take on his performance right here.
Next week we will publish the final part of the Report Card where we’ll be looking at our premium trading and short-term investing services.
And now, let’s finish with today’s market action…
The S&P 500 closed up 1.1% to end the day at 4,958.61… the NASDAQ gained 1.7% to close at 15,628.95.
In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil trades at $72.12, down $1.84…
Gold is $2,054 per troy ounce, down $17…
And bitcoin is $42,970, down $109 since yesterday.
Today’s top gaining ETFs…
Fidelity MSCI Communication Services Index ETF (FCOM) +4.2%
ProShares Ultra QQQ (QLD) +3.3%
Siren Nasdaq NexGen Economy ETF (BLCN) +3.1%
Invesco S&P 500 Momentum ETF (SPMO) +2.9%
iShares Expanded Tech Sector ETF (IGM) +2.8%
Today’s biggest losing ETFs…
KraneShares MSCI All China Health Care Index ETF (KURE) -4.9%
VanEck ChiNext ETF (CNXT) -3.8%
VanEck Gold Miners ETF (GDX) -3.5%
Global X Lithium & Battery Tech ETF (LIT) -3.2%
Invesco China Technology ETF (CQQQ) -3.2%
Write to us at [email protected] and just type “Daily Cut mailbag” in the subject line.
Editor, The Daily Cut