Real-Money Stock Picks: A Fool Signs Off

It's been a great ride, folks. But as the expression goes, all good things must come to end, which is what I'm here to say today.

In the coming days, I'll officially resign from the responsibilities managing the Defensive Value Investing Portfolio I've been managing for the Motley Fool since early 2012 .

Without diving too deep into the specifics, I've simply become too overwhelmed with my tech and telecom coverage for the Fool, as well as a few side projects, to give managing the Defensive Value Investing Portfolio the degree of attention it deserves. And as happens from time to time in life when you're simply spread too thin, it's time to relinquish the reins. C'est la vie.

However, before finally signing off, let's take a moment to recap what I've accomplished and what I would have liked to accomplish in my time at the portfolio's helm.

Let's review
Let's start at the most obvious (and ultimately important) place, my performance.

Since I began managing the Defensive Value Portfolio, the portfolio returned 19%, compared to a 62.9% return from the S&P 500, a depressingly wide underperformance. That's a personal black eye no matter how you slice it.

However, I also think there's a case to be made that my underperformance might not have lasted if I chose to continue to manage the portfolio for a few reasons.

The first comes down to what drivers would help create the portfolio's returns. As a somewhat risk-averse investing strategy, the Defensive Value Investing Portfolio was intended to largely hold a) cheap and b) safe stocks, which often lag the broad market during huge bull markets like the one we've seen in the last five years. For most of these companies, a combination of moderate growth, strong dividends and buyback policies, and robust dividend growth over time could have lead to some very impressive compounded returns. And given the outstanding long-term advantages of the companies I bought but underperformed in the short-term like Costco (+10.7%), Paychex (+4.3%), or CSX (+13.9), I still believe the portfolio stood a good chance to catch up to, and possibly even surpass, the market given sufficient time for the effects of the above forces to truly shine through.

The second comes down to the market. Unfortunately, as an investor, you're somewhat beholden to the benchmarks we use as a yardstick to measure our performance. Over the long-term, sharp stock price movements in either direction tend to get moderated. However in short-term periods like the one during which the Defensive Value Investing Portfolio's been active and the market's soared across the board, it can make for a tough standard to match. Although by no means it's impossible, it strikes me as somewhat unlikely that the stock market will soar over say the next 5 years to the same degree it did on the preceding 5 year. This would have given the Defensive Value Investing Portfolio time to slowly catch-up to the market.

Alas, we'll never know for certain.

Before I sign off
I'd also like to take a brief moment to thank the many Fools that made my time in the Real Money Stock Picks program an enjoyable and (hopefully for myself and the reader) enlightening experience.

Few companies would be so willing to invest in their employees with a program like the Real Money Stock Picks program. It's just another example of how the Motley Fool's truly an amazing company for our community members, readers, and employees across the board (Don't believe me? Check this out.). More specifically, I'd like to personally thank Ollen Douglas, Kris Eddy, Sharon Yep, and Brian Richards for helping manage the program over the years (apologies if I failed to mention anyone else!).

Foolish Bottom Line
The Fool's mission is to "Help the world invest better," and its Real Money Stock picks program is yet another great example that the Fool literally puts its money where its mouth is in pursuit of this noble goal.

I'm certainly somewhat despondent about my exiting the RMSP program. However, more than anything, I find myself thankful for the time that I got to participate in this outstanding program. And while I'm signing off from these pages, I'll still be continuing my technology and telecom coverage for the Fool as much as ever.

So, to those that ever found these pages (or will in the future), I hope they proved at least somewhat helpful in your own journey as an investor.

Fool on!

-Andrew Tonner (TMFTheDude)

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