What is up with The Motley Fool?

Ramit Sethi · May 25th, 2006

What is up with The Motley Fool? They used to give great advice, but now it seems like they just try to sell their latest newsletter:

“Need help? You can learn all about Tom Gardner’s approach to finding undercovered, undervalued stocks with strong fundamentals and real earnings. If you’d like to subscribe, you can try Tom’s complete Hidden Gems service yourself. If you’re not 100% convinced he’s on to something, just cancel within the first 30 days, and Tom will refund every penny.”

I guess they have to figure out some way to monetize it. It’s just disappointing for it to be so in-your-face. I agree with a lot of their low-cost, long-term investing strategies, but I don’t think I’ll be linking to them anymore.

Quiz: What is your earning potential? Choose the answer you agree with the most
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  1. Joe Grossberg

    Well when they gave away advice for free, it was a financial bloodbath and they had to lay off almost the entire company. (I know dozens of them.) Now, they’re focused on making a profit … go figure. 🙂

  2. Big Cajun Man

    Amen to that, I can’t even go on their web sites, and have cancelled their e-mail newsletter, all they are is “shilling” for their “pay” stuff.


  3. I wrote about this in december in my blog …

    “Why Motley Fool Sucks:

    For anyone that reads financial publications online, they are likely to know about, the Motley Fool. They are tons of articles on there about investing in Mutual Funds, IRA’s, stocks and bonds, but the problem is that every article is an advertisement. Every article somehow ties into one of the pay services that they offer and how you can get a thirty day free trial. This is shitty way of marketing. If you are going to offer free articles on your website, don’t make all of them ads, that sucks. Not only does each article end as an ad for the service, but there is always a huge ad down the side about the same thing. Many of their articles also make you sign in in order to read them; what a waste of time. If you are looking for online financial publications don’t be a fool and waste your time with them.”

  4. If you want to find out why TMF sucks, simply subscribe to my newsletter…

  5. norman

    yeah they used to be pretty good but seems to be just pimpin’ their for pay products. Oh well….. I’ve junked their email address now 😉

  6. penty used to pitch, “Don’t pay for financial advice, when most of it is common sense”. They always complain about “hidden fees” but then don’t figure in the “hidden fee” for invests to pay for thier site.

    Then they made fools of themselves and started charging.

    I was a member at the change and argued against them starting to charge. Apparently the word hypocrite isn’t a label they care about having.

  7. TMF is opportunistic, and nothing better than any low-grade investment advice you can get from a broker.

    Maybe I am just a bit morose, but their whole “we’re fun!” schtick makes me VERY suspicious. Like most meaningful endeavors in life, it is a fair amount of hard work and discipline. There are some laughs, but those accidentally happen along the way.

    Their site seems more the “The Manipulator of Fools” to me.

  8. my (least) favorite headline: I “Can’t Wait to Buy This Stock — and You Shouldn’t Either!” A runner up: “This Unmistakable Signal Is Flashing “Buy!”” Ok one more that I hate: “Own the next Genentech — make up to 3,250%”

    That’s complete crap. I just unsubscribed.

  9. Marios

    I also noticed that they’ve only got about 6 months worth of content. After that, “new” articles start to seem very familiar as if you’ve read them before.

    I can’t blame them for trying to make money. It’s what we’re all trying to do, no?

  10. Deepak

    The “Fools” are turning “fools”!!

    I had signed-up for a trial period (free) subscription to a couple of their newsletters – no doubt, they offer good advice – but when it was time to cancel the subscription, I found that there is no easy way to unsubscribe the newsletters. There is no unsubscribe link in the subscription email, no unsubscribe link on their website, and no prompt responses to subscriber emails. Such a sneaky way to “fool” people.

    They should monetize their absolutely wonderful services using the abundant subscribers. If the users desert them, so will the subscribers.

    Here’s my message to the Gardner brothers:
    Fools, be Foolish!

    • DEEPAK is right on the money! I subscribed at posted price and they came back with another, higher price as charged. I’ve tried and tried to cancel subscription (which they claimed you can do within 30 days) with no luck so far. There is no unsubscribe link and no answers to emails sent. Now I’ve written a letter to their headquarters in Alexandria to see if that will get me an answer.

      This is NOT the way to do business, Gardner Brothers, and still retain an honorable reputation.

      Buyers Beware!!!!!!!

  11. I agree that the hard sell is annoying, but the quality of content in their paid services (Hidden Gems & Inside Value) is quite good, and some of the most valuable advice I’ve come across was on the premium message boards. I’ve been a subscriber for 2+ years, and consider it money very well spent. It’s basically an inexpensive way to outsource initial investment research (vs. a full-service broker), while learning a lot about investing in the process.

    My recommendation is to skip the free content unless you’re looking for something specific (like mortgage calculators or ROTH IRA rules), skip the free e-mail newsletter, and go straight to the high-quality paid stuff.

  12. Nigga please. Give them a break. They’re trying to earn a living.

  13. Kestral

    I was a member since 1998. They’ve got some very crazy people working for them now. TMFTwitty (aka Dick Dressner) is especially crazy. As said, long time member, they used to comp me free subscription because I was one of their top members with recommended posts and people who added me to their Favorite Fools list. TMFTwitty and I did not see eye to eye and he deleted me. I appealed to David Gardner via email and he didn’t even reply. Good riddance to them. The Jesters and the Rotley Fool.

  14. Jason

    I bought one of their newsletters, Hidden Gems, touted by Tom Gardner as the second coming of Peter Lynch’s success story. They had the typical historical prices where they bought the stock and how much profit you missed out on by not joining their newsletter sooner. I bought one or two of their picks (FARO was one of them) and proceeded to lose money. Look at the recent history of FARO and you’ll see what I mean. They are not adding any value in my opinion, it is just another tout service. You might as well read all the junk mail stock picks you receive in your inbox and get similarly bad advice.

  15. JLP at AllFinancialMatters

    Surely there has to be a way to balance content with the ability to make money from content. I have been struggling with this. It seems that people have become somewhat spoiled in that they want good content but they don’t want to pay a dime for it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hate the hard sell just as much as the next guy. However, if what someone is producing is quality, shouldn’t they be able to make something from it?

    • “IF what someone is producing is quality”

      That’s just the point, TMF produces newsletter after newsletter. When a particular strategy fails, they discontinue that newsletter and start another. Just by having enough newsletters, SOME of them are bound to be right once in a while. So when a newsletter happens to get a good track record, TMF promotes it until the track record heads south. What next? Why start a new newsletter of course.

      Try reading “Fooled By Randomness” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Within the first couple of chapters you’ll realize we’re all fools.

  16. I almost took a job with them in the late 90s. They offered a $10K paycut, a mandatory 50-hour work week, foozball, and stock options.

    If memory serves, the HR rep said, “If we go public and are valued at $1,000,000,000 you’ll get $10K!” Not so Foolish…

  17. If you look at MF historically, they started out with that total self empowerment, invest on auto-pilot approach. “Remember to review your Foolish 4 portfolio every 12 months.” Buy their reference books/workbook/newsletter and you can make good returns on your own. Anti mutual fund because of management expense fees being too high and most fund managers don’t beat out the S&P 500 index performance. Essentially, MF wants to be your ongoing financial fishing guide. Hence, they charge a yearly subscription fee for access to parts of their website and sell various newsletters.

  18. Can anyone help me to unsubscribe to Motley Fool. I have tried and tried and they ignore me. I just don’t find their stuff that useful. And their customer service sucks big time!

    • Sorry, but no one can help you do that.

      Hopefully you’ve now learned a valuable lesson. A company’s guarantee is as good as the company behind it. (Or as bad as the company behind it.)

    • I’m sure he’s been waiting for the last 9 years and 5 months for that ‘gem’ of advice Jack.

  19. Have you tried just disputing the charge with your credit card company? That’ll get through to them eventually.

  20. ioan cosma

    Unfortunately ,i’m not a MF member yet.But I red almost all their free stuff for years. My capital is still too small to be a member.I also agree that to become an investor on your own is very good.You can never trust someone else the way you trust yourself.But I think that’s not the point here.I wonder if there is someone that being in need,would choose a surgeon just because he is working for free.That appears to me quite risky.Maybe he wants to get some practice or experience on your body.Though I consider that I learned a lot about investing ,I am aware that my level of investing knowledge is well below the one of the MF. I don’t think that if you use the MF paid services you are free of risk.But you can reduce this risk drastically.And a minimal degree of diversification I found necessary even if your advisor would be Buffett. I think that is worth to pay someone skilled,for screening thousands of companies instead of you doing that.Though,I may accept sometimes, something for free,as an advertisement or as a gift ,I never expect something serious to come for free unless is a scam or is for charity.This is a strong principle of mine.So,as a general rule, if someone is offering regularly something for free i start to wonder “what’s the catch”?.

  21. John Dwyer

    The Motley Fool hidden gems is just plain awful. They charge $200 for the newsletter. This year Tom is advising people to pick retail “hidden gems”. Talk about a bloodbath. Want to lose 25%? How about 60%? He recommends some real dogs in this year like HouseValues, Volcom, and Zumiez. Hmm. We’ve got a housing play. DOG! We’ve got two retailers. More dogs! My dog does better at investment advice.

  22. Graduated college in 1999 and since then have followed too much advice from the Fool. Invested in the Foolish Four only to have them renounce it within a year. Invested in Hidden Gems begining this year and have seen more losses than gains. I think I can lose money on my own. Aren’t these guys English majors?

  23. Can anyone tell me what stock TMF is recommending in their “The only stock you need to get into your portfolio right now … Piling up billions in cash Buffett-style” … ?

  24. Ramit Sethi

    Joe2by2: Um, I think you missed the point of this entire site.

    • Yes, I do not quite understand the negative’s here ?

  25. tom wallace

    I do not get the newsletter – but the only stock that meets the criteria of “the only sotock you need to own” is WESCO FINANCIAL WSC – Warren Buffets former right hand man runs this company on Warrens style.

  26. Joe Budion

    Why not just save some more cash and buy the real thing (BRK/B)?


  27. Ha!! because not everyone has $100K lying around for ONE share….

  28. Oops, that’s Brk.A

    Still $3k per share is CRAZY expensive…. but probably a deal. I guess it just proves the old addage, “It takes money to make money”.

  29. A comment above said how bad FARO was – a stock that FOOL recommended in their small cap deal. I looked at it and it has doubled since this person’s post. Not a bad pick…and far from a blood bath.

  30. I just signed onto the MF hidden gems… I don’t understand how people could be thinking this is so horrible. He makes picks, and then tracks them. It seems to me that the picks are making money… Of course you can’t pick the best ones all the time, but it seems they are right more often than not.

  31. Jo Boxer

    Most of the good guys eventually realize they can get rich by tweaking their product or service. They tell you about a system that’s really good, about the ‘bonuses’ they include, about the quotes from the great and the good. Then they get you to ‘Start now’ by clicking a button.

  32. “The next Berkshire” they talk about is Markel (MKL). If you read their teasers closely, they usually give enough hints to figure out who they’re talking about. They also pimp CTrip alot (Chinese Expedia)

  33. To answer John Dwyer:

    HouseValues: -1.7%
    Volcom: +77%
    Zumiez: +17%

    since august 06…if you think your dog can do better…

  34. I’ve been a HiddenGem subscriber for a few years now and overall I’ve done quit well. Sure some stocks are duds and if you are expecting 30% increase / month you probably don’t have realistic expectations but overall, they’re suggestions have done better than most of my portfolio.

  35. If the MF is so bad, do we have a suggestion for a good alternative? It seems to me that we should balance what we do not like with something we do like, in an effort to keep our mind positive and productive. Does anyone like

    • Dear MF:

      I’m not wise enough to know how to spend my own money. Please tell me how to spend it. Feel free to charge me for this service regardless of the quality of your advice.


  36. If the MF is not worth the money, does anyone have any suggestion for a good alternative? It seems to me that we should balance what we do not like with something we do love in the spirit of maintaining a progressive approach on investing. Does anyone like

  37. As Bob points out, it looks like short-term some of their stocks dipped into big losses, but, if you were patient enough, eventually they all came out with some nice returns long-term.

    Heck, I was very skeptical about the ad. I’m doing due diligence and googling research to validate their claims by seeing how others did. The first handful of comments made me say, yep, this is just another scam. However, after reviewing the numbers a year later (from the negative posts), it entices me to join. If some of you would have stuck with the picks more than a few months, you would have made decent returns.

    • Past Performance is Not Necessarily Indicative of Future Results.

      Take a room full of people. Ask each of them to flip a coin ten times. One or more of those people will then appear to be an outstanding “coin flipper” based upon their past performance.

  38. BillOGoods

    I don’t know about others, but I’m willing to pay $200 for some reasonably good recommendations of what would, at least to me, be otherwise obscure investment opportunities. Like Eric, above, you always have to do your due diligence.

    Also, as noted above, how can you blame these guys for wanting to make money and continue their service? I can’t and no matter what you may “think,” everything from the advice of your own broker to investment sites on the Internet are “caveat emptor.”

    I’ll tell you what I don’t like, however, and that is when you sign on to Hidden Gems or some other paid services, you are next sold an even more “targeted” service that “isn’t for everyone” that is even more costly. The current one is “Pay Dirt.” To me, that’s turning legitimate sales into an abuse. But, again, I don’t have to sign up do I.

    • Here is some advice, and it’s 100% free:

      If you want to make money, don’t buy and sell stocks. Instead, charge other people to buy and sell stocks for them. While you’re at it, charge them for your advice regardless of what stocks you recommend or how they perform. As your income grows, advertise more so you can get more investors into your group, thus increasing your profits.

      The best way I can think of to get started would be to begin by giving free advice. People like things that are free. After a while, start charging for your advice. Oh that’s right, the MF already did that!

  39. Inge Underwooo

    As posted by Bret at January 29th, 2007, you can (sometimes) use the facts they present about the Hidden Gems to figure it out. I did that with STP in Oct 06, which has since gone up almost 40% – even higher in before the recent slide in china.
    Let’s keep in mind that their strategies are long-term. A stock’s performance over any particular 6 or even 12 month period doesn’t matter – they’re looking at 5-10 years.

  40. Gabriel Mesmo

    I am a complete new comer to stock investment and would appreciate very much suggestions on how to start/who to contact. Can anybody help? I was hopeful that MF woud be great fool-proof advice but I have figure out from most of your comments they are not. Thanks for your help. Gabriel

  41. DeeTee

    Does anyone have any recommendations to an alternative to Hidden Gems?

    also would appreciate any recommendations on forums/blogs similar to this one where amateur stockpickers hoping to pick the new Berkshire, like myself, can visit to gather more info/discussions on stocks.

    Good luck to all.

  42. Rick Martin

    You want to know why Motel Fool picks do so well, here is why…
    1) The advertise their stuff for free (at first) and build a fan base.
    2) Once people start to dig their stuff, people start buying their picks ( and with small caps it doesn’t take much to get to up)
    3) Then they start selling their lists. People buy them and feel obligated to purchase stocks that they paid to see, hence driving the price up.

    So in reailty, they make sound picks, but those picks are driving up by the user community.

  43. I’m not so sure. I agree that some of their picks have a profound impact on the market. Even Tom admitted that and changed the time the hidden gems picks would be released from afterhours to regular trading hours because the rush of people to buy those picks drove up the prices on those picks excessively afterhours. But even being small caps, there’s enough people out there (day traders, swing traders, long term buy&hold,ect) to keep market prices from being effected long term by the fool. Long term depends on whether that company was able to do well. No hype can keep prices elevated for too long a time.

    • You actually believe stock prices correlate to a company’s success? hahahahahahaha!!!!

      Apple is the most successful company in the world right now. Is their stock rising because of it?

      Try comparing the stock prices of successful companies against the market average.

      Stock prices correlate only to the number of stocks being bought compared to the number of stocks being sold at any particular moment in time. It’s that simple.

  44. I know that the hidden gem picks do spike for a first few days of when they are recommended, but do you really think that is going to impact how the stock does over a 1 – 5 years ?

  45. Slim Pickens

    One of my biggest complaints about HG is the yes-men on the message boards. If a member posts anything negative, he/she is shouted down by a chorus of lemmings. The tone of the boards is that MF is perfect and if it hasn’t gone well for you, then you haven’t done your own ‘due diligence’ — a convenient excuse. There is a lack of honest debate and it has caused me to stop reading the boards.

  46. What I like about HG is the message boards. Unlike what Slim claims above, the message boards are quite open to contrarian ideas and skepticism, provided they are backed up by analysis. In addition, the message boards are basically noise free. Compare them to the chaos of the yahoo message boards which are nothing but yelling and screming about people being pumpers or bashers.

    And no, it is not HG members who cause BWLD, DWSN, or CMGB to spike 15% each in the past week. That was due to strong earnings of companies that HG had rightly identified as undervalued.

  47. Em Enjay

    I am new to Hidden Gems and Inside Value, as a trial member, but I have been tracking MF’s recommendations in several mock portfolios. I am also tracking Cabot Wealth Advisory, Schaeffer’s Master Portfolio, Change Wave, and a few others. Of them all, using the recommended entry prices, MF has been, by far, the better stock picker.

  48. David

    I am not a subscriber of HG but have followed their recommendations for 2 years. In my opinion, Tom Gardner did his job good. If one can use his picks and throw in some trend analysis, the success rate will be much enhanced.

  49. I’m just curious, how is a company which revolves around financial advice service and nothing but supposed to stay alive online without charging anything?
    No ads?
    No fees?

    HOW then?! These people, the writers and the web designers, and programmers, and advisors…how are they supposed to eat?

    Some of you people are ignorant to no extent. You remind me of my clients, I’m a web designer. I love hearing, “What?! That much. I can’t pay $3000 for a web site!” …right, I should just slave away on it for a month straight while making $500 at the end of it and then go out on the street and pimp myself, sorry.

  50. Jakub Keller

    People just want to get everything for free. Hey lets not pay for music and lets not pay for movies. Its not like it takes hundreds of thousands or millions to make this stuff right? Bottom line is, if you want something go out and make the cash then spend it accordingly. If you can’t afford it, sorry, you don’t get to have it period. The web isn’t free and $3000 isn’t a lot for a good web site as well as $15 isn’t a lot for music and $14 for a newsletter is nothing. You would pay more for HBO.

  51. David Lovegrove

    I always thought of Hidden Gems as a dangerous play and never really considered it. But after reading all this and checking on the current status of the “dogs” listed, I can’t imagine what their winners must be doing. Wow!

  52. Motley Fool has a support number for all of their products:


    I just called to cancel my order; there was no hold time and the guy on the phone was really helpful about the whole thing. They don’t run any sales pitches at you or give you any trouble, they just ask for some feedback if you have any. Hope that helps.

  53. I joined the Motley Fool a year ago (almost to the day). A few years ago I read one of the books and liked it alot. I switched jobs and rolled my 401K into an IRA so i could buy individual stocks. Following their picks (6 of them at least) I’ve got a 38% return versus something like 20% for the S&P 500. Those guys are very good (hidden gems). I don’t look at or care about the other services as to me they run contrary to the investment philosophy set out in the book which I agree with.

  54. JaWone

    I’ve purchased the Hidden Gems articles last year and just did some mock portfolios with some of their picks. The stocks that they advised actually performed well. I think what people don’t realize is that in the end you have to make the decision on whether to purchase the stock or not based on how you feel it will do in the future.

  55. betchawill

    Yeah, they really suck. Motley Fool Hidden Gems posted a 44.8% return for 2006 and 20.1% ytd for 2007 at least according to Hulbert interactive.

  56. Rickey Galloway

    Yes, they do try to sell newsletters. But anyone bashing Hidden Gems is clueless. Maybe someone bought a few bad picks, but overall it’s an incredible service.

    62% for Hidden Gems vs 26% for the S&P
    (as of 6/21/2007)

    My personal picks that I got from them are up over 50% in 3 years. Great message board content.

  57. Back in the late 90’s, the Fool had everything in the open for FREE. They had all of their holdings online and showed their profits and losses for each stock (and they were growing and making money). After the market tanked, I guessed they got embarrassed because they sold all of their public portfolios and then started selling their picks.

  58. Terry Heller

    All I know is that they are, simply put, the best stock pickers anywhere. I’m up 70 percent with them in 13 months.

  59. Seatac

    I am new to the investing stuff and was reading the Motley Fool guide on investing and noticed how they want you to subscribe to their newsletter on most of the pages of their article. It also says 30 days FREE Trial. Has anyone entered and managed to cancell it within 30 days or like most scammers they also make it hard to cancel subscriptions? It just seems ever site is out to make money on the net (fair enough) but i havent come across any other website which is as good and balanced as MF site is

  60. cheersandjeers

    after having read every comment, it would be foolish of me not to spend the meager $200.- for MF’s HG’s. (i, like few of you have not grown comfortable with the years of free advice) many spend that much for a single dinner for 2, a monthly mobile phone bill, a spa treatment or 2 (depending where you go), a pair of deisel jeans…i could really go on…you could buy a 3 year subsciption for the price of the iPhone…i’m not sayin’, i’m just sayin’…
    i’m certainly not defending the sales tactics…they could certainly be much more conscientious. (maybe a little something for their suggestion box?)
    it seems that many of the jeers are in direct relation to a bit of inexperience, impatience and a knee-jerk need to point the finger (you know what finger). and the cheers, well confidence and maturity (patience included) and as a consequence incomparable gain.
    hats off to you

  61. Reg LeCrisp

    If you don’t like the shameless plugs, don’t read the last paragraph of the articles. As for performance, the math is easy: HG trounces the market but you have to know how to use the service. Most of these picks are volatile, longer term plays and most investors are not equiped to ride out the inevitable bumps. Jason dumped FARO, for example, right before it doubled. He claimed it lost money right away: he’s talking like a ‘mad money’ trader, but the service is targeted at ‘investors’. If you don’t know or can’t match your style with the correct service, the bell is tolling for thee, get thineself into mutual funds right quick.

  62. Investbeginner

    I am tempted to sign up for Hidden Gems by Mottely Fool, but have not decided yet.

    One of the earlier posters on this blog mentioned that Faro was suggested by Hidden Gems, but that it was doing pretty poorly (that was in May 2006), but I just looked up Faro today and it had more than doubled its price from less than $18 to about $39 per share (Aug. 2007). Not so bad on that one at least.

  63. foolnovice

    I guess I am reading that HG is good but a quick novice question. I don’t have a lot of cash to invest (a couple Gs) – is TMF HG still give advice for this minimal investor?

  64. I was on their site and reading their sells pitch for the Green Light newsletter. They claimed that each newsletter would have suggestions that could make you at least $450.

    I decided to sign up, but I also decided that if I couldn’t find a suggestion that led directly to me making $50 within a month I would cancel my membership. All past issues are posted online and I’ve read through most of them. All the advice is very generic and mostly common sense, and I haven’t yet found anything specific that will directly contribute to me making $50 anytime soon.

    I will be calling 1-888-665 3665 to cancel my Motley Fool Green Light membership.

    Since I can supposedly cancel for a full refund, I decided that I would keep the subscription if I could find one piece of advice that led to a directly to me saving/making $50 within one month.

  65. Brad Nowell

    The Motley Fools are a bunch of Liberal Morons who try to pose their views on you through investment media.

  66. I generally like TMF, but am always struck by the paradox of their site (and others) selling stock advice. If their advice is so fantastic, can’t they make more money by just following their own stock picks? Why go to the hard work of writing come-on ads for stocks, maintaining web sites and e-mail lists, etc. etc. If these stocks were such sure fire bets, these folks could surely be multi-millionaires many times over and not need to sell stock advice. The hard truth is that they CAN’T make more money following their own advice—-so have to make do by selling it to you and me. So my advice is to drastically scale back your expectations and realize that their stock picks are educated guesses based on current market conditions and a certain amount of honest analysis, but are unlikely to ever enable you to quit your day job. If you’re lucky you may do a bit better than index funds.

  67. BjK…they can make money by following their own advice

  68. BjK …they can make money by following their own advice

  69. MotherWantToBe

    I am trying to set aside money for IVF. I decided some time back to try investing in stocks. I have had a hard time finding short term stock picks. By short term I mean 2-6 week picks. Please list any suggestions you may have regarding which sites you feel provide the best long term and short term stock picks. Thank you in advance.

  70. StockAdvisor

    I have been an HG subscriber for 3 years. While not all picks are winners, the overall portfolio of picks soundly beats the market.

    I do agree that their articles have become a bit to much like ads, but like others have said, they have to make a living and I have no problem with that. Do you remember all those dot com startups that offered no decernable product and had no way of producing income? Neither do I because they aren’t around anymore. was heading down this path but they discovered they could produce a quality product at a reasonable price.

  71. TMF pretty much sucks. I have been a subscriber for years and I only make miliions!!! Come on guys!!!

  72. Here’s my due dilligence: saw their banner ad for “the next Berkshire Hathaway”, read their stuff, and saw they had a 30 Day Free Trial.

    The FIRST thing I ever do with any such thing is find the cancellation link online. Not that I plan to cancel, but I use it as a gauge of how trustworth the company is… if you can subscribe online but have to phone to cancel, I run.

    I’m running.

  73. I was a HG subscriber for a year in 2004/2005 and their recommendations at that point included Deckers Outdoor, Buffalo Wild Wings and Polymedica. You can take a look their stock charts to see how good they were. Of course they also had some duds. I think one big advantage of getting HG is the access to the message boards. Unlike yahoo finance and other free boards these ones are populated by very informed investors. I stopped subscribing when my available free time for secondary research dropped and I decided to stick with Mutual Funds.

  74. Is it just me, or has every request for alternative sources to TMF for sound investment advice gone unanswered? Why aren’t the negators posting the results of their own picks? Perhaps it is because they suck even more…

    I just got done reading the pitch for HG before coming here. There are dozens of negative critiques with the same solution… “run!” But not one of these meatheads has an answer for where to run to. I’ve fired plenty of managers like these over the years. People pointing out plenty of problems and offering no solutions. Seems to me the objective posts on here are the only thing that keeps this portion of the site from becoming a joke.

  75. Jim Werner

    If you’re looking for short-term picks, take a look at Gorilla Trades. Their picks seem to be short-term in nature and for the most part they have more winners then losers. They also set trigger prices, two target price levels and a stop-loss point for every recommendation. I subscribed about 6 months ago and have been very happy with the results.

  76. What are we all trying to do here? Make money through investing! Who cares how TMF hawks its wares; they need to promote any way they can to get you in the door and look at their products, i.e., their line of newsletters. Bottom line, most investors don’t beat year-to-year performance of the S&P 500. As of this date, all their newsletters are beating the market. Some spectacularly so. Sure, some of their promos reek of hucksterism, and may even offend our intelligence. But forget style and look at the substance. Investment legends like Buffett and Lynch, as well as TMF’s Tom Gardner and Bill Mann will all tell you: keep your emotions out of your investment decisions.

  77. Outtanames999

    Absolutely, keep your emotions out of your investing decisions, but like a good Fool (make that sucker) go ahead and buy their newsletters, all of which are pitched soley on emotions of your own hope, fear and greed.

  78. Not My Name

    Hidden Gems ( / Fool ( cancel / cancellation problem: I have subscribed to Hidden Gems for over a year and decided to cancel. I have tried 2 times to cancel and never received any acknowledgment. It looks like I’m going to have to contact my credit card company now to deal with them. If they don’t seem to offer any decent way to cancel and at the same time provide an acknowledgment, I will NEVER use their services again.

  79. Actually canceling the services is the easiest thing ever (although admittedly finding this number may not be the easiest). Just call 1-888-665 3665 – someone answers immediately and they will cancel and refund your subscriptions (prorated) without bugging you or going into sales pitches.

  80. These guys require your street address, name, credit card and your agreement to automatically renew in 12 months from now on.
    This lifelong commitment also requires your identity, street address and access/monitoring of your credit status via credit card.
    How do you get out? Need to call a person and request personally request a cancellation using a hidden phone number?

    Looks like these fools are tapping an asset that will pay dividends forever; our desire to make money without earning it.

    Read some books, study individual stocks, invest in respected mutual funds run by professionals, partner with a trusted advisor. Don’t give your credit card to these clowns, put your money to work.

    Take this free advice and invest that $ 200 monthly for the long term.

  81. five whys

    Having reviewed dozens of newsletters, my opinion on motley fool hidden gems is that TMF offers one of the better quality research / recommendations service. Having said that, Hidden Gems has a specific focus – small cap stocks that are “hidden” – not well followed stocks by wall street! By definition, this is meant for more active investors and you need a portfolio approach to be successful. You need to decide if this is for you or not. If you cant digest high amount of volatility OR you want more passive approach OR you are looking for higher risk / high return approach, you may be able to find a better fit somewhere else.

    As for cancellation, I remember sending an email – not sure if I just replied back to a TMF email or found the address on their website.

  82. Underwhelmed

    I have been less than impressed with HG, and unsubscribed a while back. Yes, they do have a few winners. But if you want to get their touted returns, you have to buy every single stock they recommend. Most of their returns come from a tiny fraction of their full set of stock recommendations, and those are the ones that they’ll quote in their marketing (206% !! 700% !!). And even if you buy them all, you’ll still make way less than their marketing material claims (the latest junkmail brochure for HG says you can make 50% compounded annually — I got it in the mail today).

    Some real examples from HG below. Note that my buy price was almost always equal to or less than their recommendation price. You can look up their current prices and decide whether you can make Warren Buffet style returns following their recommendations.

    Cryptologic (CRYP) bought at $20.10 in Aug 2005

    Flamel Tech (FLML) bought at $20.73 in Jul 2004

    Stanley Furniture (STLY) bought at $21.09 in Sep 2004

    Select Comfort (SCSS) bought at $17.83 in Apr 2004

    Neenah Paper (NP) bought at $32.10 in Jan 2005

    I did make a good amount of money on Middleby (MIDD) and Drew (DW), also recommended by HG, but I lost about as much as I made, so the overall returns sucked.

  83. I too have cancelled my HG subscription. That saved me about $300, which is exactly the amount SCSS lost for me in one day alone. I guess that makes cancelling my subscription “my best investment.”

    Honestly, one thing I’ve learned from subscribing is that it’s best to do your own research and due diligence. Gardner and bros, with all due respect, aren’t really that great as investors. The Motley Fools always quote Buffet this and Buffet that. Well, this is also what Buffet says – the best investment ideas are ones that no one else knows about. How can you keep a great investment a secret if you publish it?

    These guys are playing with your emotions and your hopes of easy riches, and disguising it with words like, “long term,” “small caps growth,” “large user base research,” etc. Buy an index, it’s cheaper and at least you won’t feel as bad if you lose money. Remember Buffet and Graham’s number one rule: never lose capital.

  84. Milton Platt

    I am neither endorsing nor criticising Motley Fool, but i did note that 1) most of the critics seem to want these guys to run a large website and dispense financial information for free
    2) a few seem to complain after obviously NOT following the strategy in the newsletter they complained about (one poster says he subscribed to the Hidden Gems newsletter and bought “one or two” of the stocks recommended. First, the newsletter says this is to be part of a larger diversified portfolio, and second, that some of them will loose and that you need to spread the risk among numerous “gems” to reduce that risk. If he had followed that strategy he would probably have been okay in the long run. He didn’t give stock names or time lines, so who’s to know?

  85. to unsubscribe from TMF, go to the “contact us” tab and follow thru with an email that tells them you want to unsubscribe.
    It took 10 minutes to get a confirmaton from them at my email inbox.
    I think their much of their advice is as good as anyones and the principles they espouse are good ones.

  86. Aaron.G

    Shane said “… invest that $200 monthly for the long term”.

    A HG subscription is $200 per year, isn’t it – not per month? If you’re any kind of serious investor at all you could make the lousy $200 bucks back before you take your next morning visit to the mens (or ladies) room. $16 a month for researched stock ideas doesn’t seem unreasonable to me unless you’re playing with some mighty small capital, in which case individual stocks probably isn’t the way to go. I really don’t understand all the complaining about the cost of HG. It’s nothing. Go for a morning drip coffee instead of the non-fat spice latte and you’ll be ahead of the game in no time. Or don’t, but don’t vetch about the price of the service.

  87. I’m thinking of subscribing, and this message post hasn’t done a good job of convincing me to do it or not to do it. In their ads they do say they are for the long, and do not buy and sell frequently and stress the importance of long term investments. Obviously you shouldn’t run out and buy each stock recommended without doing your own due diligence. My question for serious investors is, does MF give good stock ideas, or are the majority dogs?’

    I’ve seen some stocks posters bought and say were bad tips, and ended up well, and some that were dogs. Here are some examples:
    FARO – up 121% since posted as loser in 5/31/06
    SOLD- down 56.02% since posted on 8/25/06
    FLML – down 55%

  88. Dennis Novak

    I think most of us agree that they are providing a service and have a right to charge for it. It follows then that they are doing this for income. Having said that it should be obvious that NOBODY would bother providing a newsletter or investment service if they had a sure thing. It would be much more lucrative just to invest in the stocks and make a fortune – why bother with a Newsletter to make somebody else wealthy? If you had a sure fire method would you give it away? The surest GUARANTEE to profit from the stock market is to sell an investment service and not invest in stocks. Like many of you, through the years I have tried dozens of services and worked with them thoroughly – I have found no consistent success. Most do well during a bull market and fail miserably at other times. A buy and hold strategy on any one of many index funds always trounced these services. I always find it amusing to read testimonials concerning how good a service is to find folks saying: “I made enough to easily pay for my subscription fee” – WOW! Just my two cents for what it’s worth.

  89. I doubt many people are contesting MF’s right to charge. The problem is EVERY one of their “free” articles basically says absolutely nothing but ” SIGN UP FOR OUR SERVICE”

    I think it is misleading

  90. Man I think you guys really just need to learn how to trade, maybe you all need to return to school and open a few books for yourselves instead of paying and praying!!:) You guys remind me of all the Cramericans, what a laugh….. Good luck to all of you suckers!

  91. You guys know very well that before any major investment newsletter is released to the public that the pros have already moved in to arbitrage the short or long of the stocks, leaving you the scraps at best. The biggest problem with the MFSA letter, is that it picks long term investment stocks, not trading stocks, but is released monthly like it is about trading stocks. Who has the money to continually buy month after month with never selling a position? The advice defies its own premise. If these guys were that good they’d turn their picks into a mutual fund and earn management fees. I’d try their fundy out no prob, but will not pay for a subscription that is so hard sell. The fundy would also ensure their picks don’t get leaked out for others to arbitrage.

  92. Doug Duggins

    I didn’t re-up my HG subscription this year. After two years on the service, I was unimpressed with my returns. One of my best examples- buying into BWLD on their third buy recommendation. It’s now 91% down from that point. I seem to recall buying RIMG on the basis of their recommendation; that’s now at -57%. FLML is -50%. LOOP: -48%. STRZ: -47%.

    Their current ads are pure hype. I wouldn’t buy into any of MF’s subscription services anymore. I’ve lost far too much money with them as it is. They’re now officially worse than BullTrade, and that says a lot!

  93. Warrior

    Can the Motley Fool make you money? Yes it is possible. That said, in order to get the returns they advertise you must buy every stock they recommend when the newsletter comes out each month and also strictly follow any sell recommendation they make for their picks. If you try to selectively pick stocks they recommend they you are very likely to underperform both the newsletter and the market as a whole. Unfortunately, this is not a sound strategy as it does not allow time for you to do your own research. If you wait and do your own research you may or may not get better results.

    Overall, as stock pickers the Motley Fool is quite average. I used to subscribe to Global Gains and Hidden Gems. At the time I stopped subscribing 50% of HG picks were beating the market and 44% of GG picks were beating the market. Obviously this is nothing to rave about. The returns they advertise on their website are real but you must follow the above strategy exactly to get them. The other thing you need to know is that for many of their newsletters most of their gains come from a handful of stocks. For example, if you failed to invest in Middleby or CTrip for HG or New Orientel or China Mobile for GG then a huge chunk of returns goes right out the window. In these instances it causes global gains to underperform the market and brings HGs returns in line with the market.

    Customer Service at the fool is great as long as you are a subscriber. Once you try to unsubscribe things can get tricky. When I called to cancel my subscriptions the first time I was automatically hung up on because there were too many people ahead of me. I called back and got a human, but the person tried to convince me to keep my HG subscription because I still had 2 months left. They did not want to give me a refund for it, but I insisted because that was their policy. The person I talked to also forgot to cancel my GG subscription and I had to call back a third time to get my refund for it.

    Overall, the Motley Fool is not all bad. They do have good investment analysis and ideas for subscribers. The problem is their advice only translates into results if you strictly follow their strategies as mention above. This is problematic though as they sometime make boneheaded recommendations. For Example, they recommended MF Global, a company with huge exposure to the credit and derivatives markets 3 months into the Global credit crunch in October 2007. It is no surprise that since that time MF Global’s share price plummeted nearly 80%. The main reason I am leaving MF is that stocks I pick on my own have done better than their picks which I bought. If done properly though it is possible to make money with the fool.

  94. Warrior

    Does the Motley Fool actually beat the market? Yes, but be careful about relying on the average returns they post on their website. Average returns are skewed towards positive picks with returns over 100%. Remember a stock can only go down 100% but it can go up infinitely in theory.

    Mark Hulbert of the Hulbert Financial Digest provides annual returns on all Motley Fool newsletters. These are numbers you should consider if you want to subscribe to an MF newsletter, since as investors consider how are portfolios compound annually…we do not measure average gains.

    The numbers below are from the Mark Hulbert and are compared to the Wilshire 5000 Index in annual terms. The numbers are tracked since inception for each individual newsletter.

    Hidden Gems 15.9% vs. 8.7% for the Wilshire 5000

    Rule Breakers 1.5% vs. 6.7% for the Wilshire 5000

    Income Investor 9.8% vs. 8.0% for the Wilshire 5000

    Inside Value 8.7% vs. 7.0% for the Wilshire 5000

    Annual numbers don’t lie, be careful of which newsletter you choose. This performance shows that the Motley Fool does pretty good for itself. Although their returns are not much better than many mutual funds.

  95. Has anyone signed up for their Million Dollar Portfoilio ($500/yr) where Tom Gardner is investing $1M of their money? How many buys does he make per month?

  96. YOU are the fool if you listen to the MF crap.

    Why do they shill and charge so much? Because they now have HUNDREDS Of a-holes working for them…gotta pay the bills!

    It would be much better for them to reduce to 4 or 5 total staff and work with volunteers and the public…..alas, they won’t do that as long as FOOLS pay the bills.

    Worse yet, they are somehow feeding shill headlines to Yahoo and others…what a pain. I’ll have to find another financial site.

  97. That’s why sometimes the genuinely different sites can offer more in-depth research. The problem with all “company” blogs is that a lot of people need to be fed and therefore everything has to cost money. There are tons of private blogs, but often there is no real investment-depth or continuity. One site I quite like is, the Monaco-Reports were just spot on, and sat really smug during the last few months! Granted, some other investments went to the drain, but then again we’ve had exceptional markets this year….

  98. I received a Motley Fool Pro invitation that was long and involved and contained

    “The most exciting development in my lifetime as an investor”
    — David Gardner, Motley Fool co-founder

    It dazzled a NASA scientist and forced a hedge fund
    pioneer out of retirement. Now, there’s proof it can
    propel you past 99.4% of investors — even in a
    stomach-churning market like this …

    Motley Fool Pro is dealing in the following:

    PUT and CALL options, for example, can juice our gains in up and
    down markets, generate excess passive income, and reduce overall

    In addition to options, you’ve also expressed an interest in
    profiting from and learning more about…
    – Exchange traded funds (ETFs), both long and short
    – Individual short positions
    – Market neutral long/short paired trades
    – Income-generating energy limited partnerships
    – Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

    For $1500, but if you join now it will be $500 off.

    A hugely long email that they kept sending –“only 36 hours left” “offer ends tonight at 11:59 pm.” As so many of the above posts state they seem to be fishing and using techniques to push people into it. I feel it’s a bit like snake oil.

    Did anyone get the same invite and what do you think of that and the evolvement of all these Million Dollar Portfolio etc so called premium investment vehicles.

  99. If it sounds too good to be true…….

  100. Coffeyshop

    I agree that TMF hides their customer support number…that should be a red flag – both to the company and the consumer. I however found it quite easily despite their best efforts to hide by simply typing in their address to google maps. Once I called their Alexandria VA long distance number of (703) 838-3665‎, they “kindly” gave up their toll-free number of (888) 665-3665.

  101. LOL, this seems to be the place to go on the web to gripe about MF!

    Anyhow, both of the original advisors for Hidden Gems have now officially bowed out. I guess they got bored and wanted to move on to bigger and better things. Either that, or now that HG is a sea of red numbers, they wanted to distance themselves from the performance of it. They used to make promises like how their picks would trounce the market in five years, but the advisors didn’t even last long enough to find out. Hard to have long-term confidence in their picks when the advisors themselves are not long term.

  102. I have a copy of The Motley Fool’s book “Rule Breakers, Rule Makers,” published in 1999. The book basically says you should buy America OnLine, Cisco, Coca Cola, Dell, Disney, Gap, Intel, KMart, Microsoft, Nike, Pfizer, Schering Plough. 10 years later, every single one of these stocks is down at least 30%. If you’d put equal dollars into each back then, you’d still be down 65% after 10 long years! How can these guys even have a career after publishing something like that? It’s got to be the worst call since British prime minister Neville Chamberlain’s 1938 claim that we’d have “peace for our time.” It’s like Cramer pumping internet stocks for five years and then having the chutzpah to publish a book called “You Got Screwed.” As if it wasn’t him doing the thrusting.
    Anyone who listens to these morons deserves to lose all their money.

  103. The fact that we are in the worst economic recession in decades couldn’t have anything to do with it….

  104. I agree that Motley Fool’s marketing tactics are a bit excessive. However, many of you sound like a bunch of contrite whiners. First of all, I found this site because I’m trying to see if there are alternatives to MF. What I find instead are a bunch of complainers that offer no alternatives. If MF is so bad, what else is out there that’s better?

    Second, even though the marketing tactics are annoying, you have to admit that $140 to $200 / year isn’t bad if you consider what it costs to hand over your money to a financial adviser. If you don’t want to manage your own investments, then maybe that’s what you should do. However, paying for MF empowers you to manage your own portfolio and take the risks along with the rewards. Yes, it would be nice if it was a free service but that isn’t realistic.

    Finally, some of you sound like a bunch of welfare recipients. The term entitlement comes to mind. It appears that you feel entitled to making it rich in a declining economy if you invest in the MF. I have used MF in the past and withdrew my money from the stock market before the economy tanked–the signs were there. I am responsible for my own money not MF. You have to use some common sense and do some homework if you’re to be successful. If you honestly feel that there are better alternatives, what are they? I’m interested.

  105. I joined MF (the regular service) about 6 months ago. I have very little investment experience. I have not yet purchased any of the stocks that they’ve recommended through their newsletters. However, I created a couple of “watch lists” to see how their picks were doing. I can honestly say that they are not all bad. Also, I think it’s an understatement to say that the overall market has not performed to our liking. I’m not going to blame MF for that. I guess my point is that, though I haven’t yet invested in any of their picks, I feel that they are a competent service. I’ll continue to watch their selections, do research on my own and invest only after I feel I have a true winner.

  106. I also just received the Motley Fool Pro advertisement. To be honest, Fool provides some really sound commentary out there in terms of analysis of macro factors, and as a subscriber to Hidden Gems, I was able to walk through their reasoning for their purchases – THAT was what I found most helpful, not just picking what they chose. In fact, I didn’t invest in anything except for two of their pics. But they really do what they set out to do: teach; and I can apply their principles on my own. The whole idea of buying/selling what they buy/sell and this whole Motley Fool Pro thing (now it’s 2000, or 1,500 if today act now) isn’t my cup of tea in general, but I’m sure pro and the rest of MF still offers really great analysis.

    Look into perhaps. I’m not sure what style of investor you are, but gurufocus has some good stuff from the value perspective.

  107. David Modlesky

    My problem with the FOOL came from a recent edition of my Sunday newspaper where they printed one of their “true” (false) letters from a reader who doesn’t exist where they bashed annuities. They even went so far as to say variable annuities are completely useless. One of the biggest risks investors face as they get close to retirement and when they are retired is longevity risk. If you have your money in an IRA and are retired withdrawling 5% per year there is a strong possibility you will run out of money before you die especially if there is a drop in the market like we have witnessed. An annuity that guarantess income for life would protect against that case. Yeah, you will pay a little bit for that protection but would you rather having to go back to work part-time as a greeter for Wal-Mart? The “FOOL” needs to get their act straight and do their homework! It infuriates me when people pretend to know what they are talking about and they take advantage of investors who don’t know any better and make money off them while the investor is losing their shirt. Someone needs to take them to task and limit the advice they can give before some unsuspecting investor gets hurt and loses their retirement or other money they can’t afford to lose.

  108. Motley Fools uses dishonest practice of getting rid of their services that are not performing well. I subscribed to their Pay Dirt service and set up a mock portfolio with their first 8 recommendations to track their earnings. Now the entire portfolio is down -48.01% when AAPL, which lost half of its value during the mortgage crisis, is back up to -25.51% during the same period. You won’t see that bad score on their homepage. They have swept it under the rug and come up with new products that still “beats” the S&P500. What scammers.

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    ‘perfect’ sex, so why should the pornography industry promote this
    unrealistic ideal. That key would open a special door,
    right around midnight, to a surprise party, where all the carnal pleasures awaited.

  144. Patrick Andrew

    I feel that most people visited fool for the discussion boards and that was the hook for some of their ‘pay for view’ services. Now they’ve removed the opportunity for fellow investors to post their thoughts I believe their services will bomb. Memories of the benefits of what Fool supplied for free will quickly fade and without that no-one in their right mind will pay to get tips from a company with fool in the name. They’ve lost it and will be moving funds from their trading platform as soon as practical.

    In my humble opinion, their strategy has been quite literally foolish.