Groundhog 2020: The Battle Resumes

Battle? Yes, our 14th annual “battle.” The battle is part of our continuing demonstration that it is possible to humble the total stock market. And it’s more fun when we do it together. As we tally the 2019 results, please submit your 2020 entries. Good Hunting and Good Luck!

Groundhog Challenge XIV (2020)

We hold certain truths to be self-evident.

That most of us like to sleep at night.

That most of us believe in Occam’s Razor.

That “patience is genius in disguise.” — Hugh McManus

Most of us marvel at the performance of a relatively-passive model portfolio like our Bare Naked Million

We also pay homage to a few selected Rhinos. (Past winners have included Eddy Elfenbein, Abby Jo Cohen (Goldman Sachs), David Einhorn and Warren Buffett.) Some are included just for fun … it’s like playing against the “house.” #BeatJimCramer

We’ll keep it simple (again) for Groundhog XIV (2020).

Rules of Engagement

1. Enter by selecting a minimum of five (5) investments and a maximum of twenty (20) positions.

2. Participants will receive $1,000,000 in Groundhog dollars. The cool million will be divided evenly across the number of positions you decide to use. In other words, if you pick (5) stocks … we’ll divide the $1,000,000 evenly, creating a public dashboard with $200,000 each. If you submit (8) stocks, it’s $125,000 each.

3. Participants may submit entries as individuals and/or group (clubs).

4. No transactions will be permitted between February 3, 2020 and February 2, 2021.

5. Entries can be made between now and then and will be accepted until the market opens on Monday, February 3 at 9:30 AM ET.

Entries can be submitted by emailing markr@manifestinvesting.com or by posting here in the Groundhog Challenge forum folder.

Special Consideration. We will grant an exemption (an extension) to any group (investment club) that enters the fray during the month of February.

6. Stocks under $1 not permitted.

This is a total return contest — the influence of dividends is accounted for.

Who: The few. The proud. The brave. Bring your best ideas — club and individuals.

On Pitching Better

Dance Until Everybody’s Watching

 Mark  Robertson   “Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been    hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.” — Satchel Paige (1906-82)
. . . and sing like you do when you’re alone and behind the wheel of your car. I’m not sure what happens to that amazing rock star or would-be opera sensation when I leave the car, but my serenades just aren’t the same as between Point A and Point B. Anybody else encounter that mystery?

Satchel Paige is part of the magical lore of baseball legend. He springs to mind almost every year as dreams develop in the hearts and minds of Americans with the start of yet another baseball season. Yes, I believe the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox will win it all someday.

If we could ask him, Paige would agree.

But Satchel transcends the sporting world. His words are about life itself. He’s often quoted, and you’ll recognize many of his gems.

“Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

Every time I see that one I smile and think of people like Tom O’Hara and Ralph Seger and countless NAIC chapter volunteers who are so willing to share their investing experience with anybody who will listen. Many of them have a lot of years, but their spirit prevents them from having a lot of “age.”

Paige was timeless. We’re not even sure when he was born — it’s estimated that he was born on July 7, 1906. In 1965 he took the pitching mound for the last time, throwing three shutout innings for the Kansas City Athletics. Fifty-nine years old. Wow.

“You win a few, you lose a few. Some get rained out. But you got to dress for them all.”

“Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.”

“I never threw an illegal pitch. The trouble is, once in a while I would toss one that ain’t never been seen by this generation.”

Pitching Better

This is part of where the challenge that faces us resides. NAIC investing ain’t all that easy to see by this or the next generation. At least not yet.

And we simply have to find effective means of making this so.

During a recent strategy session, a group of us spent considerable time discussing the attributes of NAIC and investing better. One of the participants chimed in with: “These characteristics are all part of the better investing experience. However, what we do ‘here’ is really more about enabling individuals to access a lifetime of successful investing. We can point to case after case where an individual or group of people have experienced a favorable impact on their lives as a result of what we think of as investing better. Perhaps we ought to focus a little more on this notion of better.”

“I never had a job. I always played baseball.”

“Ain’t no man can avoid being average, but there ain’t no man got to be common.”

NAIC holds a solution to many of the perplexing mysteries of investing. As Satchel suggests, this carries a responsibility, and it doesn’t have to be “work.” It’s part of our purpose.

Some recent surveys show that the average investor is generally miserable. We also know that NAIC investors are a bold exception. In exit surveys (from former members) conducted in February 2004, we asked them if NAIC made them better investors during the time they spent with us. Result: Yes — 73. No — 0.

Better — According to Webster

The definitions for the word better include: being positive or desirable in nature, a good experience; having qualities that distinguish, serving a desired purpose; superior to the average, of high quality; complete, thorough, reliable, beneficial to health; and a condition of excellence.

All of this reconciles pretty well with my view of what investing better is all about. It’s a time-honored approach that’s ageless. “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” It’s an interesting question and challenge.

Investing better. Enabling better futures. NAIC investors do not sing or dance alone.

Mark Robertson is the founder and managing partner of Manifest Investing, an investment research firm focused on strategic long-term principles. He served as senior contributing editor for NAIC/BetterInvesting from 1997 to 2004.  This article was originally published in Better Investing in 2004.

Crowning Groundhogs (2018)

This Week at MANIFEST (2/8/2019)

“A group of investors heeding the lessons of Graham, Babson and Nicholson has at least one leg up on the crowd and a better than average opportunity to generate exceptional returns.” — Our Groundhog Creed.

Super Performances

The Super Bowl is on Sunday.

Sorry Patriots fans, but if you care about the 2019 stock market, the only thing standing between you and the oblivion of an “old AFL team” winning the Super Bowl and poking the restless bear, the accompanying image of a focused Ram is it. Go Rams!

And that’s the second most important thing going down this weekend.

Our courageous band of Groundhogs have finished another revolution around the sun, the twelfth such rendition — and we’ll be crowning another repeat champion, Anna Gombar of Holly, Michigan.

Inviting Anna Gombar (and her husband Rod) to a stock selection contest is like inviting Tom Brady to a football tournament.

The results are in and the accounting team is crunching numbers, munching pizza and chugging adult beverages in the conference to compile the final results. Spoiler alert: They’re outstanding. Again. (I hope) No, we expect.

Back To The Super Bowl And All Things Commercial

What have been your favorites over the years? The Coca-Cola ad ranks as one of the best of all time. The Apple commercial is epic. And Budweiser consistently hits it out of the park with the gorgeous Clydesdales. But the E*Trade babies and the CareerBuilder Monkeys are legendary.

But — to us (particularly in Michigan) — the Eminem commercial by Chrysler stands out among the best. Ever.

The S&P’s 7.9% Advance Marked Its Best Start To The Year Since 1987

Sharp Rebound. The S&P 500 had it’s best month in three years following December’s slump. Hard to think of the market gyrations over the last four months as anything but a YoYo “Walk-The-Dog” market.

MANIFEST 40 Updates

  • 2. Cognizant Technology (CTSH)
  • 4. Microsoft (MSFT)
  • 12. Alphabet/Google (GOOG)
  • 19. Visa (V)
  • 27. Oracle (ORCL)
  • 28. Wells Fargo (WFC)
  • 36. T. Rowe Price (TROW)

Round Table Stocks

  • Amazon (AMZN)
  • Baidu (BIDU)
  • Booking.com (BKNG)
  • Cognizant Technology (CTSH)
  • eBay (EBAY)
  • EPAM Systems (EPAM)
  • FleetCor (FLT)
  • Global Payments (GPN)
  • Infosys Tech (INFY)
  • Microsoft (MSFT)
  • PayPal (PYPL)
  • SEI Investments (SEIC)
  • T. Rowe Price (TROW)
  • Western Union (WU)

Best Small Companies (2019 Dashboard)

The status of the 2019 Best Small Companies can be tracked at: https://www.manifestinvesting.com/dashboards/public/best-small-2019

Investing Round Table Sessions (Video Archives)

Turnout Tuesday Educational Sessions

Results, Remarks & References

Companies of Interest: Value Line (2/8/2019)

The median Value Line low total return forecast for the companies in this week’s update batch is 5.7% vs. 7.7% for the Value Line 1700 ($VLE).

Materially Stronger: Fiserv (FISV)

Materially Weaker: Sohu.com (SOHU), Ameriprise (AMP), SEI Investments (SEIC), BlackRock (BLK), Ctrip.com (CTRP), GroupOn (GRPN), Capital One (COF), Ansys (ANSS)

Discontinued:

Market Barometers

The thing very few people tell you about “overvalued” markets is that, occasionally, the fundamentals arrive to justify them. — Joshua Brown

Value Line Low Total Return (VLLTR) Forecast. The long-term low total return forecast for the 1700 companies featured in the Value Line Investment Survey is 7.7%, decreasing from 7.7% last week. For context, this indicator has ranged from low single digits (when stocks are generally overvalued) to approximately 20% when stocks are in the teeth of bear markets like 2008-2009.

Groundhog Challenge 2019

Gh invite 20190130

Stocks, NOT Markets, For Success

Some words from Better Investing editor Don Danko and his editorial advisory team back in October 1991 …

It’s Stocks, Not Markets, That Bring Investment Success

When investors gather in Chicago later this month for NAIC’s annual Congress, it will be the 41st consecutive year that members will have come together to learn more about common stock investing.

Forty-one years. That’s quite a stretch of time. For many in the NAIC family, the members who have attended these meetings over the years represent at least two generations, in some cases even more. And those four decades of time also have involved all types of economic activity and all kinds of stock markets.

Some have been quite memorable. Like 1987 in Detroit. The Congress took place Oct. 14 -17 that year, literally on the heels of the market’s biggest plunge ever. In fact, the dive started on Friday, Oct. 16, with a collapse of more than 100 points in the Dow Jones Industrial Average while investors were attending seminars and touring the corporate exhibit area. That day they experienced the largest one-day drop in market history, a record that was not to stand very long. On Oct. 19, Black Monday, the market fell another 508 points.

Two years later, on Oct. 13, 1989 (yes, it was a Friday the 13th), the market took a huge plunge again while NAIC investors were holding their annual meeting in Minneapolis. The fall was not as severe as in 1987, but it was large enough (190 points, with most of it in the final hour of trading) to bring on the usual flurry of media reports and interviews suggesting that the sky may be falling.

Yet the surprising thing to many observers, in truth even a bit unbelievable to some, was the fact that Congress-goers didn’t seem to be too concerned about losing money or deciding when and what to sell. Yes, they had a keen interest in following what was happening in the market. And, yes, what was happening did have an effect on the value of their holdings. But the focus of most every investor we met with at both Congresses was on what and when to buy instead of what and when to sell.

What Wall Street was reporting as gloom and doom, our members were viewing as an opportunity to bargain shop.

We don’t intend to make light of bear markets. They are real and they hurt people. Some are hurt because they are forced to sell shares at low prices to meet financial needs. Others because the fear of even greater loss is more than they can handle. They didn’t expect this type of loss could happen.

Nevertheless, bear markets, even the fear of bear markets, keep investors from enjoying the benefits a program of regular investing can bring. Bear markets drive people away from equity investing. People get no enjoyment in watching the prices of stocks that they have been patiently buying, sometimes for years, fall below the price they paid. That’s not their idea of something to celebrate.

Over the past four decades, if there has been one single conclusion that we have come to, based on the experiences of thousands of Americans throughout the nation, it’s that it is important to stay in the market and continue a program of regular investing in order to build wealth. That simply is the best way that wealth is created.

To do that requires three key ingredients: 1) A focus on the long term. (Don’t be derailed by pressure to think and act short term.) 2) A discipline to apply in building and managing a portfolio. 3) Patience to persevere. (This is where clubs and other individuals who share similar goals can provide invaluable support.) It’s hard to say which ingredient is the toughest. They are all important and success depends on being able to blend all three into your own personal program of investing.

There are times when bears frolic in financial markets, and other times when the dancing is done by the bulls. But in order for most investors to build their wealth and fund their lifelong dreams, they need to dance to a different drummer.

We believe very strongly that the words to the tune that drummer is playing go like this: There is little in today’s news that has a bearing on the wealth an individual can accumulate over his or her lifetime. Money can be made in all types of markets, if the focus is long term. It’s stocks, not markets, that bring investment success.

The Rest of the Story: Wasted Wish?

Perspectives, by Mark Robertson, Managing Partner


Originally Posted on January 1st, 2010 — we felt it was worth another look back at a visit from Santa … from a few years ago on the heels of a vicious bear market.

With certain apologies to Paul Harvey, we need to continue a look at our “Best Season To Invest?” theme from last month. Our December cover story included an exchange with Santa Claus where we playfully negotiated three wishes. The 3rd wish was for Santa to let us know the best day to invest during any given year.

Santa reluctantly agreed to see what he could do … after exploring our comments about lottery-related spam email. But his message was pretty clear, the perceived advantage isn’t nearly what most people think it would be.

We resumed the discussion where we left off during his visit to Rochester Hills, Michigan on a snowy December 25.

 

A Wish Already Granted? $100 invested into Tin Cup (our model portfolio) would have led to total assets of $1565 over the last ten years. The same $1000 invested on the best day for investing in each of those ten years stands at $1317. Investing regularly in quality companies with leadership projected returns turns out to be pretty compelling.

 

MI: So how’d it go in Omaha?

Santa: I’m still undecided. Buffett is on probation until I figure out why he said “Buy American!” and then bought a Chinese stock? But he gets good list points for pointing out long-term investing in general.

MI: Indeed. We think Buffett, and for that matter, all of us, should be willing to invest wherever your sled flies on Christmas Eve.

Santa: I might be mixed up on the years … but in any event, he’s on probation until I finish reading Snowball. If he’s gonna use one of my favorites for the title of the book, he’d better behave. I’m not convinced. For now, it’s a fly-by.

MI: Charlie Munger, too?

Santa: Not a chance. Charlie’s a hoot, one of my favorites. I may leave him a clump of coal just to play mind games with him. He’ll probably wonder if Buffett is out to buy an entire coal company next.

MI: Now who’s misbehaving?

Santa: Watch it. That 2010 list is already a work-in-progress. You’re already hanging in the balance.

MI: OK, I’ll add “being nice” to my list of resolutions for 2010.

Santa: It’s early. You have a shot.

MI: We’ve been doing some more thinking about that wasted third wish from last month. Is it possible that I wished for something less than we already have?

Santa: Ding. Ding. And two more angels get their wings. Your subscribers have already checked in with their own observations that Tin Cup gained 48% during 2009?

MI: Right. We’re thrilled!

Santa: Well … investing $100/year in Tin Cup and not worrying about “best day of the year” achieved $1565 over the last ten years vs. $1317 using the “best day” approach. Celebrate that. Hey! Nice touch on the beverage, chips and salsa … milk and cookies are great, but they get old after a few million stops.

MI: Thanks, Santa. Have a great year!

March Madness Market (64)

March Madness (Tournament)

Sometimes you just gotta do something “mindless” and holding a return-based elimination tournament of stocks over the next few weeks of March Madness seemed to fit the bill.

The (64) qualifiers are based on the highest 1-year total return forecasts according to the analyst consensus (ACE) with a minimum stock price of $9. In the first round, #1 plays #64, #2 plays #63, #3 plays #62, etc. There are some community and recently featured favorites such as Stifel Financial (SF), Vertex Pharma (VRTX), Michigan’s own Steelcase (SCS) and Inteliquent (IQNT). There are also “villains” like Valeant Pharma (VRX).  David Einhorn and Greenlight Capital (GLRE) have been red hot — can they extend the trend into the tournament?

The tracking dashboard for Week One is: https://www.manifestinvesting.com/dashboards/public/march-madness-64

March madness 64

Annual Super Bowl Poll (2016)

It’s time for our annual Super Bowl survey. Hit REPLY and tell us who you know is going to win Super Bowl 50.

Once again, there’s not a clear “old NFL” team again this year. A victory by the nearly undefeated National Conference champion Carolina Panthers (17-1) would be “most like” an OLD NFL victory … so investors across this nation probably ought to be in the Panther camp. The Broncos are clearly on old AFL team and the stock market is vulnerable to a Super correction at some point.

So sorry, Peyton Manning fans — a Denver victory would not be good according to the Super Bowl stock market indicator

We’re 6-for-10 having mistakenly selected the Seahawks (77%) over the Patriots (23%) last year.

Our Selections

XLIX: Seattle Seahawks (Super Bowl won by New England Patriots)
XLVIII: Denver Broncos (Super Bowl won by Seattle Seahawks)
XLVII: San Francisco 49ers (Super Bowl won by Baltimore Ravens)
XLVI: New York Giants (defeated the New England Patriots)
XLV: Green Bay Packers (defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers)
XLIV: New Orleans Saints (defeated the Indianapolis Colts)
XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers (defeated the Arizona Cardinals)
XLII: New England Patriots (Super Bowl won by New York Giants)
XLI: Indianapolis Colts (defeated the Chicago Bears)
XL: Pittsburgh Steelers (defeated the Seattle Seahawks)