Wall Street's Worst Stock Picker

More than 4,800 investors are now trying to one-up each other in Motley Fool CAPS, our new service that ranks players by their ability to predict the price movements of the stocks they follow versus the performance of the S&P 500.

Some of us who've been at this for a while are doing great. Take Bill Mann, for example. Our Motley Fool Hidden Gems co-advisor has earned a spot among the top 10 players with picks such as International Assets Holding (Nasdaq: IAAC  ) , which is pummeling the index by more than 44% since its mid-July addition to his portfolio. Plus, he's been accurate on roughly seven of every 10 picks. No wonder he's ranked No. 8 in the CAPS community as of this writing.

Others are, quite simply, stinking up the joint. Many of those on the losing side -- and I mean the very low end of the CAPS community -- are well-known Wall Street figures whose real-life picks we're tracking. Would you believe that the worst of the worst among the Street's denizens we're tracking belongs to -- gulp -- Benjamin Graham?

What?!?
Yes, we're aware that Graham has been dead for three decades. No, we've not commissioned a seance. Our team is basing Graham's CAPS selections on works he produced when he was alive, principally The Intelligent Investor, which was first published in 1949. For his CAPS portfolio, we track the top 25 stocks selected based on Graham's "enterprising investor" criteria, rebalanced annually.

In Chapter 15 of his masterwork, Graham advocates five stock-screening criteria for enterprising investors:

1. Good financial condition: Current assets should be at least one-and-a-half times current liabilities, and debt should be no more than 110% of net current assets.

2. Earnings stability: There should be no net losses over the past five years.

3. Show me the money: The stock must pay dividends.

4. Growth: Earnings must be up over the previous year.

5. Bargain price: The stock must trade for less than 120% of net tangible assets.

If you're thinking that last item really limits old Ben's choices in an age of inflated valuations, you're right. We've made 25 picks for him in CAPS, and all but one is losing to the market. Which one is winning? Motley Fool Inside Value selection First American Financial (NYSE: FAF  ) , up more than 6% for Graham.

But Ben's stinkers have, well, stunk. Beleaguered biotech Biovail (NYSE: BVF  ) is down nearly 45%. Homebuilder Ryland Group (NYSE: RYL  ) is off 37%, and oil driller W&T Offshore (NYSE: WTI  ) has lost 36%. Korean steelmaker and Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation POSCO (NYSE: PKX  ) is down 7%.

Earn your Fool cap!
So, it looks bad. But Ben could rally big-time. Heck, I have. It was only a few weeks ago when I was right where he is in CAPS. Now, I'm on the threshold of All-Star status, which is reserved for Fools whose combined score is greater than 80% of the community.

Think you're Fool enough to beat me? Or Graham? Or 4,000 other Fools? Show us. Select at least seven stocks, and you're in the game. It's that easy. Start earning your Fool cap today.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers has 32 picks in his CAPS portfolio, including SigmaTel, which he believes is a wonderful short candidate. Think he's wrong? Get in the game, and add your own rating.

Tim didn't own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. Get the skinny on all of Tim's stock holdings by checking his Fool profile. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy always beats the average.


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