April 14, 1998
The Fool on the Beardstown Ladies
In November 1983, 16 women gathered together in Beardstown, Illinois, to start an investment club. In 1994, their no-nonsense investing style and claimed 23.4% annualized 10-year return led to a book called The Beardstown Ladies' Common-Sense Investment Guide, which spent three weeks on the best-seller list. The ladies took the investing world by storm and became the champions of the individual investor.
In March of this year, fifteen years and five books later, the Beardstown Ladies announced that a data input error had caused them to overstate their returns. Their actual return was 9.1% annualized over that same ten-year period. It was a sad day for the ladies, a shock to the investing world, and a boost for professional money managers everywhere.
The ladies have received some harsh criticism from the media, financial professionals, and those who have read their books. It seems just about everyone has an opinion about the Beardstown Ladies, Fools included. We asked six of our writers to share their feelings on the subject. Read what these Fools have to say and then post your opinion on our Beardstown Ladies Message Board.