It's not easy to beat the market as an investor -- most mutual fund managers don't, and they're professionals. But using Motley Fool CAPS, anyone can try his or her hand at stock picking and get ranked over time based on performance. One early CAPS stock picker, beginning from when he was 8 back in the good old days of 2007, was Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner's son Zack.
In this segment of the Rule Breaker Investing podcast, Zack is his dad's special guest, and they review his hits, his misses, and why he chose the stocks he did. Back in 2007, he saw Evergreen Energy, a developer of alternative fuel products, as a bad bet. To find out what compelled him to tag it as a loser, and whether or not he was right, read on.

A transcript follows the video.

This podcast was recorded on July 5, 2016

David Gardner: Before we get to your top three picks -- and your most recent three picks, with which we'll close it -- I want to look at one other red thumb you put on. Do you remember Evergreen Energy?

Zack Gardner: I do not.

David Gardner: So today it reads with this ticker symbol on your CAPS scorecard: EVEIQ. Now, I know you've been a summer intern this summer at the age of 17 at The Motley Fool, and I know you've learned a little bit about ticker symbols. And the letter Q -- when it's on the end of a ticker symbol -- what does that frequently mean?

Zack Gardner: That they've filed for bankruptcy.

David Gardner: That's correct. And so when you picked Evergreen Energy, I think it was just EE back in the day. I can't exactly remember, and you probably don't either, but you thumbed it up, initially, on Feb. 1 of 2007. And you made no comment at the time, which is unlike you, because we made a big point of trying to say to type in what you're thinking each time.

You closed it out just three weeks later. You were some kind of crazy trader ...

Zack Gardner: [Laughs]

David Gardner: ... and the stock was down about 6%. I guess you didn't like that, so you exited. But then you came back, one month later, and put a great big thumb down on Evergreen Energy. And Evergreen Energy, at the time, was at $6.70 and it would later be closed out at $0.22, and that was in December of 2011. Zack, I want to read you briefly this article from Bloomberg dated Jan. 24, 2012.

"Evergreen Energy files for bankruptcy, cites lack of financing. Evergreen Energy Inc., a developer of alternative fuel products, filed for bankruptcy protection, saying it was impossible to maintain operations with a lack of financing. The company listed assets of about $240 million and debt of $25 million in Chapter 7 documents filed yesterday," etc. Evergreen "remains unable to obtain additional financing, and, given its current financial condition, there is substantial doubt that the company will be able to continue operations ..."

My question for you, Zack, is would you like to apologize to the CEO of Evergreen Energy ...

Zack Gardner: [Laughs]

David Gardner: ... or the people of EE?

Zack Gardner: I think I'm going to pass on that one, but I do remember why I picked this one, if you'd like to hear.

David Gardner: I would love to hear.

Zack Gardner: If I remember correctly, the top [CAPS-ranked] Fool at the time, TMFEldrehad, and my little 8-year-old mind, decided to click in. The top Fool -- you know this guy's got to have all the great picks.

David Gardner: Right. He's the guy who's ahead of thousands of others. He's the No. 1 guy on the platform.

Zack Gardner: Yeah, and one his most recent picks, at the time, was EE, so I was like, "You know what? Let's go for it." Let's trust the wisdom of the smartest guy out there, at least to me, and you know, it worked out.

David Gardner: Wow. And TMFEldrehad, who is Russell, a longtime member of the Fool community, absolutely killed it there, because a few years later, you and he both enjoyed, if enjoy you did, the bankruptcy of a company that you'd given a red thumb to.