Start at the Vanderbilt Hotel on Mary Street in Newport, Rhode Island.
Directly opposite, you’ll see Clarke Street.
Walk 340 feet north along Clarke Street and on your right, you’ll reach number 14.
It’s an old house. Appealing, but not pretty.
The green paintwork gives it a dulling effect.
Or it could be the houses on either side. Their brighter and fresher-looking exteriors unfairly detract from number 14.
But our focus is on the green house.
Today, it’s a private residence, as it’s been – from what we can gather – since it was built in 1756.
The original occupant of the house was a gentleman by the name of Ezra Stiles… Reverend Ezra Stiles. He was minister at the Second Congregational Church, which still stands opposite.
Ezra Stiles as an adolescent was, according to his biography titled The Gentle Puritan:
A small, sober boy with a long nose and an open, guileless face. He was fifteen years old. He came from North Haven. He knew arithmetic, Latin, and a little Greek. He was going to Yale.
That was the assessment by tutors of Stiles on his admission to Yale in 1742.
Based on the records, Stiles appears to have been a popular, able, and diligent student. After graduating from Yale in 1746, he earned his masters. He then remained as a tutor until 1753, before pursuing a career in law.
After that, he became the minister at the above-mentioned church in Newport, Rhode Island.
But it’s his role as an educator where his legacy lasts. Aside from playing a key part in founding Brown University, Stiles lays claim to founding the first grading system at an American university – Yale.
He did so as its president in 1785.
It’s for this reason we mention Reverend Ezra Stiles today, as we reveal the inaugural Legacy Research Annual Report Card…
“Spur Them to Closer Application”
Our grading system (which we’ll reveal below) will look a little different from the one Stiles developed in the 18th century. His had four levels of grading: optimi, secondi optimi, inferiores boni, and pejores.
From Latin to English, we translate as “the best,” “second best,” “less good,” and “worse.”
We can’t help but think that no one wants to be known as second best, inferior/“less good,” or worse. The grade levels alone should have been enough to motivate the students… or demoralize them!
But it’s not just the fact that Stiles introduced a grading system. It was why he did so that appealed to us. He believed the system absolutely would motivate students to perform better.
According to the diary of Reverend Dyar Throop Hinckley, a contemporary of Stiles, the Reverend Stiles told students that:
Some had pass’d so poor examination, that they dishonoured themselves and College, but he hoped that the mortification they must undergo, in seeing others so far above them, would spur them to closer application, that they may acquit themselves better at the next examination.
We can say in advance that none of our experts have dishonored themselves or Legacy Research.
But we know they have pride in their work. And some of our colleagues may be disappointed by either their records last year or the grades we’ve awarded them.
If so (and we don’t for a moment wish to think on their behalf), we hope any disappointment will drive them to improve for the “next examination.”
The Legacy Research Annual Report Card has been a long time coming. The founder of our parent company, Porter Stansberry, began publishing a report card on services at Stansberry Research more than 20 years ago.
They’ve continued to publish it every year since.
So last year, we decided it was time to finally follow that lead. After months of discussion and debate, we’re ready to release our first report card.
You’ll receive it in three parts. This week we publish the results for our seven entry-level publications – four investment newsletters, one portfolio service, and two trading services.
Next week, we’ll publish the results for our premium services. That’s where investments typically have a holding period of six months or more.
Finally, two weeks from today, we’ll publish the results for our premium services. There, investments usually have a holding period of less than six months.
Now, before we reveal this year’s inaugural Legacy Research Report Card, we need to set the scene. We’ll explain the thinking and rationale for how we put the Report Card together…
Picking, Not “Cherry-Picking”
This will include explaining the methods we’ve used… the data we relied on… the interpretations we’ve made… and how we settled on the individual grades.
For that reason, it’s important you don’t skip ahead.
We know it’s tempting, but if you don’t read what has gone into preparing this Report Card, there’s a risk you won’t understand the results. That may lead you to misunderstand it.
So let’s go through it now. We’ll break this into the following areas:
How and why we selected the “reference period”
Our choice of benchmark
Why we’ve used “weighted” returns
Why we haven’t used annualized returns
Our baseline for the grading system
First is what we’ll refer to as the “reference period” through this Report Card. Surprisingly, this was the most contentious issue leading up to publication.
Ultimately, your editor settled on what we believed was the fairest and most representative way to show how our various services performed over a given time.
We decided against using a calendar year due to its arbitrary nature. That’s because it doesn’t factor in market conditions or investor sentiment. It just goes from the start of the year to the end of the year.
Instead, we wanted to pick a date (not “cherry-pick,” mind you) that clearly reflected investor sentiment at that time. We then wanted to see a clear trend afterward.
That would allow us to see if our investment experts picked up on the trend early or not. If they couldn’t do that, their results would show it. If they could, the same goes.
Either way, most of all, there can’t be any excuses. If we picked a calendar year, our experts could claim they caught the rebound early, which is why they didn’t have better results.
By picking a market inflection point, as we’ve done, of October 12, 2022, no one can argue they’ve been unfairly affected by the dates.
You can see in the chart below why we’ve chosen that date:
The red circle marks the market low. By the time we got to January 1, the market had already risen by 7%.
In future years, we’ll look at it similarly. For instance, for next year’s report card, we may use the late October 2023 dip as our starting point. But we’ll worry about that 12 months from now.
An Investor Has Three Choices
Next, let’s talk about our choice of benchmarks. This was an easy decision. For all our entry-level services, we’ve used the S&P 500. We did this for two reasons.
First, the simplicity. The entry-level services should have a simple and easily known benchmark that all our subscribers know.
Given the diverse nature of our entry-level services, it would be easy to over-complicate things.
Moving away from the S&P 500 is something we may consider in future years. But for this year at least, we’re keeping it simple.
The second reason relates to the first. By using benchmarks other than the S&P 500, folks could accuse us of cherry-picking an index to sway the result.
Any such thoughts by our readers would make this whole exercise pointless.
Next, our use of “weighted returns.” In the Report Cards that follow, you’ll see for the entry-level “investment” publications, we’ve included “weighted returns.”
What does this mean? Simply, whenever you receive one of our investment recommendations, you have one of three choices: follow the recommendation, do nothing, or do something else.
By using a “weighted return,” we’re judging our experts’ recommendation against one of the alternatives. The alternative being that the subscriber, instead of following our advice, could buy the S&P 500 instead.
It compares the performance of our experts’ advice to buying the S&P on the date we make our recommendation.
Arguably, this can be more relevant than just marking the S&P at the beginning and end. Simply because many people have new capital to allocate throughout the year, rather than making one investment at the beginning.
The only services where we haven’t used a “weighted return” comparison are for our two entry-level trading services. For these, it’s less relevant as a trader doesn’t typically have the same alternative investment choice.
When deciding on a short-term trade, it would be rare for a trader to decide against our short-term trade in favor of either a short-term or long-term stock investment in the S&P 500.
So, for the two trading services, we’ve used the S&P 500 level at the beginning and end of the reference period to best judge the returns.
Now onto annualized returns. We only made the decision this week to not use annualized returns. And the reason is the opposite of what you may expect.
When annualizing the returns, the results just looked too good! They would have come across as unbelievable!
For instance, the annualized returns for the Palm Beach Letter were 96.9%. That’s compared to an annualized return for the S&P 500 of 26.3% and a weighted annualized return of 31.6%.
That’s because a recommendation in the portfolio for a short period can blow out the returns when you annualize it. Take the recommendation of The Graph in the Palm Beach Letter.
The crypto returned a terrific 126% from when it was recommended in September 2023 through the end of last year. But when we annualize that number… it gives us a return of 1,426%.
A number like that distorts the overall numbers. So for now, we’ll exclude annualized returns from our Report Card.
Creating Our Baseline
Finally, our baseline for grading. How do we turn all these results, percentages, and comparisons into an A-to-F grading system?
We discussed this in a recent Friday edition of The Daily Cut. We figured the easiest baseline was whether a publication made money or lost money (based on our records) for subscribers.
If it made money, its starting grade would be a C-. If the service lost money, its starting grade would be an F. From there we looked at whether it outperformed the average return benchmark and/or the weighted return benchmark.
Now, just because a service starts at a C- or above, it doesn’t mean it can’t fall below that. Many factors play into it.
For instance, we looked at subjective elements, such as what the reader should reasonably expect from that type of service.
We also looked at the kind of claims made in promotional material and how the market covered by that publication performed overall.
And so, here we are. Now, here’s how all the publications performed, including the grades and commentary given to each service. Introducing…
The 2024 Legacy Research Annual Report Card
And now we’ll explain the individual results and the thinking behind why the service received the grade it did…
First, Distortion Report. It’s helmed by former Wall Street banker and current Washington D.C. insider, Nomi Prins.
The main premise behind the Distortion Report is to look at all the ways central banks, governments, and Wall Street elites manipulate the markets (intentionally or unintentionally).
The next step is to then find ways to profit from that manipulation.
To do that, Nomi and her team have mostly focused on five key themes. These are:
Transformative Technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
So how did things play out for Distortion Report during our reference period?
Well, the 6.6% return and the D grade kind of sum things up.
Considering the S&P 500 gained 33.3% over the same time frame, the returns following the Distortion Report recommendations were well below par.
It underperformed the S&P 500 index overall and it underperformed on a weighted basis. The S&P weighted return was 12.9%.
(Remember, that means comparing how an investor would have done if they invested in the index at the time we made each recommendation, rather than in the recommendation itself.)
But at least there was a positive return. So what went wrong?
As we look back over that period, and look at the individual recommendations, we think we know why. The biggest issue was the lack of risk management before and in the early stages of our reference period.
Too many stocks were allowed to go too far into the red.
By the time Distortion Report adopted a more rigorous approach to managing gains and losses, it was too late to prevent some of the biggest losers.
Crypto financing company Silvergate Capital, battery storage firm Ess Tech Inc (GWH), and payments service provider Pagseguro Digital (PAGS) are good examples. They fell 74%, 68%, and 46%, respectively, during our reference period.
Incidentally, we had one of our analysts run some quick numbers. And a simple 25% trailing stop on all the positions in this service, could have bumped up the performance to 10%.
Would that have been enough to improve the grade? That’s hard to say.
Anyway, for all those reasons, the best grade we can give this publication this year is a D. After all, when you consider the relative market performance and the fact that I-bonds were paying north of 6% for parts of 2022 and 2023, it’s hard to grade it any higher.
However, while it’s important to be open and honest about the overall performance, we do want to give credit where it’s due… and hope that these are signs of a better performance for our next report card.
Nomi had good timing when she added Bitcoin to the portfolio last May. She didn’t pick the exact bottom of the market, but with an entry price of $27,877, it delivered a 50% gain during our reference period.
Nomi also made some great calls in the energy sector, such as in uranium. Cameco (CCJ) – up 20% during our reference period – is a good example. Dell Technologies (DELL) was up 133% during the reference period as well, and 53% overall.
So, now that it has a sound risk management process in place, we hope to see a much better performance from this newsletter in next year’s Report Card.
Palm Beach Letter
The Palm Beach Letter is the flagship entry-level advisory for investing guru, Teeka Tiwari. Teeka has taken care of the Palm Beach Letter and its subscribers since 2016.
It was back then, in April 2016, that Teeka recommended Bitcoin to subscribers when it was just… $375. Today it’s around $40,000. That’s a 10,405% gain.
Your editor has been in the financial newsletter publishing business since 2005. It’s hard to think of a bigger call than that… except for his Ethereum pick, which he recommended when it was $9.
Today, Ethereum is around $2,200. That’s a 24,612% gain.
Impressive numbers. However, let’s bring things back to the more recent past. For this report card, we’re interested in the period from October 12, 2022, through to December 31, 2023.
How did the Palm Beach Letter service stack up during that time?
Again, we let the numbers tell the story. During our reference period, the Palm Beach Letter recorded an average return of 29.8%. That stacks up very well against the benchmark return of 33.3%.
However, if we look at the weighted result, we can see the Palm Beach Letter outperformed, beating the weighted benchmark return of the S&P 500, which was only 19.6%.
That’s a 10% outperformance.
So, what helped drive those gains? No prizes for guessing. The top 15 best-performing investments during the period were all either tech or crypto.
That includes stocks such as Nvidia (NVDA), which was up 330%, and Broadcom (AVGO), which was up 164%. And The Graph crypto, which was up 126%.
We’ll also note good risk management practices overall. Of the 53 recorded positions that were open during that time, only seven recorded losses were greater than 10%.
One of those was the position in Signature Bank, which collapsed last year. But thanks to the sound risk management, overall, the effects of this didn’t affect the returns.
One final note. The Palm Beach Letter analyst team has suggested an alternative benchmark for this service. They suggested benchmarking against a 60/40 index.
That is, an index broadly made up of 60% stocks and 40% bonds. Considering the Palm Beach Letter publishes an asset allocation model each year, it’s a fair request.
But we won’t formally do it this year. Here’s why… to draw a fair comparison, we would have to break down the Palm Beach Letter portfolio into the different categories and then weight those returns based on that.
We’ll consider it for next year, though. That’s providing we’re comfortable it would give a fair reflection of the service and the reader experience.
Overall, Palm Beach Letter gets an excellent and well-deserved A-.
Near Future Report
The Near Future Report is Legacy Research’s primary big-picture tech investing service.
Since Colin Tedards took over this service last year, it has returned to its roots of being more focused on tech.
Tech stocks have been through a lot over the past two years. The market for tech burst in 2021 before finally bottoming out towards the end of 2022.
That coincides with the beginning of our reference period. So how well did the Near Future Report and its picks make the most of the market rebound?
The answer is: quite well, actually. With an 84% win rate on recommendations during that time, the service returned an average gain of 27.6%.
That compares to the 33.3% return for the S&P 500 and just a 15.9% weighted return for the index.
Arguably, the weighted return is a more relevant comparison for the Near Future Report than it is for any of our other entry-level services.
That’s because October 12, 2022, marked the end of a “tech wreck.” For that reason, it would have taken a brave investor to go “all in” on tech stocks on that date.
More likely, a tech-focused investor would have either sat things out for a while… or they would have gone back into the market slowly. That’s where the comparison between Near Future Report returns and the weighted returns becomes important.
Because instead of buying a “riskier” tech stock, an investor could have chosen the “safer” alternative of the S&P 500.
On that basis, the Near Future Report almost doubled the weighted returns of the S&P. That’s a great result – even if it fell a few points short of the total S&P gains.
So what drove those gains?
Existing picks such as Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Uber Technologies (UBER), and Adobe (ADBE) recorded gains of 154%, 136%, and 108% respectively during our reference period.
Overall, they have returns of 106%, 15%, and 38%, which means they fell hard during the prior period. So while we applaud the gains, the lack of a risk management approach before this period meant investors suffered bigger losses than necessary.
More recent picks, such as Shopify (SHOP), Broadcom (AVGO), and ServiceNow (NOW), generated returns of 44%, 24%, and 18% respectively.
Furthermore, it’s hard to argue with Colin’s decision to sell many of the non-tech stocks that were in the portfolio when he took over last June.
Since selling those 11 stocks, six of them have fallen further, two are flat, and only four of them are higher today than they were then.
As for the grade earned, it gets a B. Some may find that a little harsh. After all, it had a positive return during our reference period, and it nearly doubled the weighted return of the S&P 500.
But the reason it doesn’t get an A grade is we have to think a tech-focused investor would expect to see a tech-focused newsletter outperform the S&P 500 overall.
Especially when the Nasdaq index gained 44% during our reference period.
(By the way, there are two reasons we benchmarked against the S&P 500 rather than the Nasdaq for this service. First, the Near Future Report included several non-tech stocks during the reference period. And second, because this service focuses on larger-cap tech stocks. We will revisit the benchmarking for this service for the next Report Card.)
All up, a very good result. Colin has set up a thorough risk management approach. He and his team look at valuations for entry points, take profit levels, and stop loss levels, among other factors.
By returning the focus to tech, we’re confident Colin can continue to help his readers benefit from the big trends, especially artificial intelligence.
Intelligent Income Investor
We helped our friends at Wide Moat Research launch the Intelligent Income Investor newsletter at the beginning of our reference period. So this Report Card shows the entire track record of the service.
Overseen by real estate veteran Brad Thomas, the mantra is for investors to buy what he calls “SWAN” stocks… that is, “Sleep Well At Night” stocks.
These include buying into some of America’s biggest, best, and most well-known brand name companies.
In addition, thanks to Brad’s extensive background in real estate, the portfolio also includes many of Brad’s favorite real estate plays. Not just typical plays, such as offices or retail… but data centers and farmland too.
But whatever the type of play, the ultimate aim is to help investors derive an income from their investments. So how did that play out during our reference period?
As you would hope for a service that aims to help you “sleep well at night,” Brad had a high 82.9% win rate on his picks.
And when you look at the individual performances, you can see that Intelligent Income Investor benefited from some of the key tech trends. Big winners included Broadcom (AVGO) with a 159% gain, Microsoft (MSFT) up 66%, and Digital Realty (DLR) up 50%.
Another big winner, not picked up by any of our other services, was Parker-Hannafin Corp (PH). It returned 82% during our reference period. A great pick.
Overall, only three positions generated negative returns of greater than 10%. The largest being Albemarle Corp (ALB), with a 31% loss. But put in context, Brad and his team delivered on their promise of recommending “sleep well at night” stocks.
In which case, why does Intelligent Income Investor only get a B? Again, this could be a case of us being a little harsh. But when we benchmark against the S&P 500, it did fall short of matching that return.
The portfolio generated an average return of 23.3%. That was below the returns of the outright S&P 500 performance of 33.3% and the S&P’s weighted return of 27.7%.
Without analyzing to look at risk-adjusted returns, we can’t be entirely sure that investors faced less potential risk than investing in the S&P or any other stocks.
Look, it was a borderline call, and we figure any subscriber to this service should be more than happy with the results they’ve seen.
Legacy Inner Circle Portfolio
The Legacy Inner Circle Portfolio was an idea we introduced last year. The aim was to help folks who subscribe to multiple publications but find themselves so overwhelmed that they don’t know what to do or where to look.
If you’re not familiar with Legacy Inner Circle… it features the best ideas, insights, and recommendations from the whole team at Legacy.
And it’s headed up by former Daily Cut editor, Chris Lowe.
So our Director of Research here at Legacy Research, Jack Kasprzak (a 30-year veteran analyst), helped launch the Inner Circle Portfolio.
We figured that if Jack could select picks from our entry-level services, it would help in your decision-making.
To date, the service hasn’t quite played out as we’d hoped. The win rate so far has only been 55.6%. And the average total gain, only 7.4%.
Now, the important thing to note is we only launched this Portfolio in May last year. So from then until the end of December, the S&P 500 only gained 15.3%.
And on a weighted return basis, the S&P returned 14%. In other words, the portfolio performed half as well as the index.
So, what do we do?
In your editor’s view, the Inner Circle Portfolio has the potential to be a new flagship service for Legacy Research.
But it fell short of where we would like it to be for three reasons.
First, we weren’t active enough by switching positions in and out of the portfolio. It became a “set and forget” portfolio… with perhaps too much emphasis on the “forget!”
Second, it’s a straight-up stock portfolio. It could have benefited from other assets… such as recommending positions in bonds or cryptos, or even including an options strategy – even something as basic as writing covered calls.
Granted, that may have overcomplicated things and could have achieved the opposite of our intention – to make things easier for you, not harder.
Third, could we have added a pick or two from our premium-level services?
There would be a limit to what we could include. Most of our premium services involve short-term plays, or microcap or small-cap stocks, which are just too illiquid for a wider audience.
Anyway, as mentioned above, despite the slow start, we believe it’s worth building on, adapting, and improving it this year. We’re confident that this time next year, you’ll see a big improvement in the grade.
But right now, we’ve got to be honest with you. We can’t give it anything higher than a C. It made money for those who followed the picks, but it could have done better.
Jeff Clark Trader
It’s not that we didn’t think Jeff Clark was a great trader.
But when we saw the returns for Jeff’s entry-level Jeff Clark Trader service, they didn’t seem real.
Not just the 82.1% win rate (in an industry where many traders are happy if they have a 50% win rate)…
But the way he beat the market by nearly four-to-one.
Now, as we mentioned above, we used a different method for assessing the two entry-level trading services than we used for our entry-level investment services.
This is due to the shorter holding periods and different approach of traders compared to investors. So it makes more sense to look at how well our traders did building up their capital throughout the year.
Furthermore, for these trading services, we haven’t looked at weighted returns. Mostly because the numbers aren’t meaningful… and because it’s not reflective of the choices a trader may make.
When a trader receives an alert from Jeff, they will either follow Jeff’s trade or not. They wouldn’t consider buying the S&P 500 (such as through an ETF) as an alternative trade.
The better option is to compare it to the starting and ending points of the S&P 500 during the reference period. That way you can see a true comparison – comparing an active trader to a purely passive approach.
In other words, we’re looking to see if the extra activity is worth the effort.
In this case, it definitely is.
During our reference period, Jeff’s trades recorded a trading gain of 114.1%.
That means if your starting pot was $5,000, by the end of last year, it should have grown to $10,705. If it was $10,000, it should have grown to $21,410. And so on.
Of course, that requires following every trade. And, naturally, results may differ. You may enter and exit a trade at a price better or worse than the price we’ve logged for our Report Card.
But if you’re anywhere near Jeff’s logged results, that’s an outstanding return.
So, as far as we’re concerned, that’s a well-deserved A+ for Jeff Clark and his excellent Jeff Clark Trader service.
One Ticker Trader
Jeff’s record is a tough act to follow. But Larry Benedict has managed to do that in his own way… posting similarly great results in his entry-level One Ticker Trader service.
And although Larry’s record during the reference period doesn’t match Jeff’s, it compensates for that in a different way. We’ll explain what we mean in a moment.
But first, a quick look at the track record. Larry recorded a 55% trading gain for his subscribers between October 12, 2022, and December 31, 2023.
That means a starting pot of $5,000 turned into $7,750 by the end of December last year. A starting pot of $10,000 turned into $15,550, and so on.
That, too, is worth the effort compared to a 33.3% return for the S&P 500.
But here’s the thing about Larry’s track record that makes it stand out even more. To make that gain, Larry only issued 24 trades. Given the reference period covers around 14 months, that’s an average of 1.7 trades per month.
What’s more, not only was there a low frequency of trades, but the average holding period was just 12 days. Meaning traders following Larry’s picks had (on average) relatively little capital locked up in the market at any one time.
And here’s an interesting point on that: Larry recorded a profit on every trade where the holding period was seven days or less – that’s 17 trades.
For trades held longer than that (seven trades in total), only one was a winner. That tells you something.
Bottom line: An excellent result from Larry Benedict. He beat the index (handsomely) and did so in a way that allowed traders to keep capital out of the market for longer than it was in the market.
Considering how volatile and rough the market was last year, traders surely would have been grateful for that. And that makes it deserving of an A grade.
And so, here ends part one of the Report Card. Remember that next week we’ll publish report cards for our premium services that have an average investment time horizon of six months or more.
The report card for our shorter-term services will be with you the week after that.
Look, we know this isn’t perfect. There will be criticisms. If you have any feedback – positive or negative – please do email me directly at [email protected].
Remember, that email comes straight to my inbox. It doesn’t come via a customer service representative. With your feedback, we can better judge what we’ve gotten right and what we’ve gotten wrong… Were we too harsh… or too soft with our assessments? We’d love to know your thoughts.
We can then consider that feedback when preparing the 2025 Report Card.
So, as always, thank you for subscribing to our Legacy Research publications. We’re truly grateful for your ongoing support and custom.
Finally, if you still have the energy to read on, a quick look at today’s market action…
The S&P 500 closed down 0.1% to end the day at 4,890.97.… the NASDAQ fell 0.4% to close at 15,455.36.
In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil trades at $78.23, up 94 cents from yesterday…
Gold is $2,018 per troy ounce, down $1…
And bitcoin is $41,947, up $2,161 since yesterday.
Today’s top gaining ETFs…
Siren Nasdaq NexGen Economy ETF (BLCN) +4.9%
Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK) +3.4%
iShares MSCI Turkey ETF (TUR) +2.2%
iShares MSCI South Africa ETF (EZA) +1.8%
iShares MSCI Switzerland ETF (EWL) +1.7%
Today’s biggest losing ETFs…
First Trust Nasdaq Semiconductor ETF (FTXL) -3.4%
KraneShares MSCI All China Health Care Index ETF (KURE) -3.1%
Invesco Semiconductors ETF (PSI) -2.8%
iShares Semiconductor ETF (SOXX) -2.7%
SPDR S&P Semiconductor ETF (XSD) -2.7%
Write to us at [email protected] and just type “Daily Cut mailbag” in the subject line.
Editor, The Daily Cut