This is the last Foolish Workshop article. The area is being closed for two reasons: We found it impossible to continue providing Workshop Screen Rankings without violating our licensing agreement with Value Line. But another consideration was that this area was serving too few people to be cost effective from a business standpoint even before we ran into trouble with Value Line. Fortunately, the work of the Workshop goes on in our community area.
For those who are interested in mechanical investing strategies, the Workshop Archives and Screen Explanations material has been unblocked will remain available. But the cutting edge stuff, as always, will be on the Foolish Workshop and Mechanical Investing discussion boards.
Why have we closed the Workshop? First, the obvious problem was not the only problem. As most of you know, in January we took the Workshop off line very suddenly at the request of Value Line. Value Line objected to the use of their Timeliness ratings in our strategies. Those rating are their proprietary information and that was their right. We tried to work out an arrangement with Value Line that would let us continue to publish the rankings and returns but, so far, have not been successful.
The Current Rankings and Workshop Returns areas will remain blocked as will any individual pages that reveal the Timeliness ratings of specific stocks. (The final Workshop portfolio report below is OK because it does not identify which strategies were used to select which stocks. Some strategies do not use Timeliness, others use more than one Timeliness rank. See the Discontinued Strategies area for more on the discontinuation of the Workshop portfolio.)
But lurking underneath the Timeliness rank problem was another issue. The Workshop has always appealed to an elite (in my opinion) few. It's not mainstream fundamental investing and, frankly, I doubt it ever will be. Although our stock screens are based on "fundamental" stock criteria, like earnings, no one would call the Workshop "fundamental" investing. We looked for patterns and then tried to discern real patterns from the eddies created by chance. I love it, still do, still invest that way. But it's not for everyone.
Unfortunately, the resources required to run the Workshop area were being squeezed by the Great Internet Advertising Revenue Disappearing Act. Even before Value Line insisted we block the site, I was desperately scrambling for a way to make the Workshop cost effective for the Fool. We didn't have a chance see how those efforts worked out, but, knowing what I know now, I suspect they wouldn't have made much difference ultimately. The times they are a' changin'. Even online. Especially online.
So the Workshop has passed back into the hands of the community. Perhaps that's the best place for it. Certainly it is a community of bright, dedicated, and amazingly generous people. They have been through a pretty rough year, as have all investors, but I feel quite sure that the community will survive and thrive.
To those of you who followed the Workshop here, I recommend that you join the discussion on the Foolish Workshop discussion board. See you there.
Fool on and prosper!
Ann Coleman still invests using Workshop strategies and plans to continue for the foreseeable future. You can see the stocks she currently holds (but no hint of their Timeliness rating) in her personal profile. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.