As our long-time readers know, all Motley Fool real-money portfolios have
always made a point of announcing their trades BEFORE execution... and they
ALWAYS WILL. But over the course of the past few trades, we have sometimes
seen the traded stocks move dramatically away from us on trade day. Bad for
us, and bad for you, too. We're not terribly surprised, frankly, for a few
reasons. The first is that the Fool Portfolio has been extremely successful,
and success begets attention. Second, due to that success and attention,
we suspect many people are now following them, and in some cases, mirroring
them. And third, there is even a chance that Wall Street market makers are
getting wind of our proposed trades like anyone else, and could be artificially
jumping up the ask price for buys, or artificially dropping the bid price
What this means is that we don't get our stocks at the prices we'd like. Of course, we could always go to the STANDARD Wall Street model of loading up on the stocks FIRST, then later (say, a day or two) tell you what we already own. Would that be Foolish, though? Nope. Never.
But we have come up with a new way of announcing Fool trades that we're putting into play as "policy," as of now. Namely, from now on when we announce an intention to trade, we will make that trade within the next WEEK, as opposed to the next day.
OK, what does this mean? Well, first off, it means that when we say we're going to buy Frankie's Hot Air Balloons (NASDAQ:SINK), we will NOT necessarily jump into Frankie's on the next day. In our recent experience, we could expect Frankie's -- which, say, closed at $34 1/2 the day before -- to open at $37 on our announcement. Maybe we think that's silly, that $37 is too high and we can get a better price. (Maybe you think the same thing, too.) Well, from now on, we have one week -- not just one high-pressure day -- to buy this operator of hot-air balloon rides. Maybe we can get it for $34 1/2 two days later. Maybe we can get it for $33 four days later. Who knows?
One thing's for sure in that scenario, though... we will get it AT SOME PRICE in the next week. That's our solemn commitment.
Our new policy should smooth out what have in the past been occasionally exaggerated moves in stocks the day we trade them. We've never wanted or liked that... we gain no benefit from it. In fact, we get hosed just as anybody else would when the stocks jump or dive! Our new policy should reduce the "day after" moves. But even if for some reason it doesn't, it'll give The Fool Portfolio more freedom to get a price it likes without being slave to the whims of market makers.
If the policy needs any further clarification, please read our Foolishly Answered Questions format, below:
Q: Hey, does this mean you blokes won't ever buy the next day?
A: No, it doesn't. We may still execute the trade at market open of the next day. Again, when we announce a trade, we are COMMITTING to make the trade at some point in the next week (5 market trading days).
Q: OK, so what if you announce on a Sunday night that you're going to buy a small-cap stock, and it opens up $2 to $22 on Monday, rises $2 more on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and you haven't bought and it's at $28 and it's Friday?
A: We buy it. We said we would. We will. No questions asked.
Q: I understand accountability is important to you guys. Will you announce when you have actually made the trade?
A: Of course! Yes, the day we do make the trade, we'll announce it as usual in our Fool Portfolio recap.
Q: Does this go for The Fool Portfolio and the Boring Portfolio?
A: Yep, and any future portfolios we open in our hallowed Hall. This is new Fool policy.
Q: Well, I'm one of the people who paid $12 to subscribe for one year to your Foolish e-mail list. I still say you guys should give us something extra... you know, e-mail us your trade ahead of the general announcement.
A: Sorry... we the managers don't front-run our picks, nobody at Fool HQ does, and no select group of our readers does. We won't allow it. The Foolish E-Mail List is a service we offer to people who don't get to sign into Fooldom every night, and would like to read our announcements by e-mail. That's the sum total of the purpose of the product.
Q: That's it! You Fools have gone Wise... you are no longer serving your readers with this new policy. After all, the Fool Portfolio has always made it possible for me to duplicate the returns of the portfolio... you made it possible for me to get the same price you did.
A: Actually, that was always PART of our aim, since we wanted to serve you better than financial newsletters that bought their picks in advance of the issue reaching their subscribers' doorsteps. (In so doing, they would always show better numbers than subscribers could expect.) But as you know, we have never bought at the exact same price as any of our readers... we traded at SOME point on the next day, just like anyone else mirroring the portfolio. Stocks fluctuate hour to hour, sometimes minute by minute, so that no one was ever guaranteed the exact price that we got, or that someone else got. (In many cases, readers got BETTER prices than we did -- long-time readers will remember our fiasco in cashing out the Bed Bath & Beyond short last year.)
The point of our Foolish endeavors is to teach YOU to invest for YOURSELF; mirroring our returns is still easy to do with accuracy (again, you may do better), but we're not going to be pedantic about this. We don't think you should be, either... as usual, you should be making your own decisions.