In this Rule Breaker Investing podcast, David Gardner pulls the most interesting -- and complimentary -- items out of his mailbag. Among the subjects he covers this month are how to tell when to cut your losses on a falling stock, how to donate stocks to charity, how to invest with an eye on an extra-early retirement, how a Fool leverages options for profit, and how to pick from among mutual fund options for your 401(k). And because he wants to give the best answers possible, he's more than happy to bring in reinforcements from the rest of the Fool: Joe Perna, a financial planner at Motley Fool Wealth Management; Jeff Fischer of Motley Fool Pro and Options; and Allyson Wines, our director of Product Experience.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Nov. 29, 2017.
David Gardner: And welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing. OK, it's Mailbag week, and a feast o'plenty do I have for you this particular week. It was a really fun month on this podcast. I mean, what other podcast could, in a single month... and I'm not bragging, here... lead off with Roy Spence? I mean, 'nuff said, and I've got a couple of Mailbag items related to Roy.
But we started with Roy Spence. Then we went and we updated "Five Lesser-Known Rule Breakers." Stocks picked a while ago. We played the "Market Cap Game Show, Episode Two" with Matt Argersinger. Then I had the fun of doing my "Pet Peeves, Vol. II" episode. Thank you for indulging me. And thank you for writing in and sharing some of yours, which I will definitely be sharing back on this Mailbag.
And then finally, last week it was time to pick some stocks: "Five Stocks That Will Let You Eat Cake," and we talked about how you should try to refuse the fool's choice in life to think you can only do one or the other thing when often the surprising, creative, and highly satisfying answer is not either/or, but both. So that was what underlay the five stocks I picked last week.
I have a ton of Mailbag items. I had to sort through literally 25 printed pages. Just personally I sat down with them. I had Rick Engdahl, my producer, print them all out. I cut them up, sliced and diced. I've got 11 Mailbag items for you this month. Without further ado, let's get started.
Mailbag Item No. 1: And this is just general Roy Spence love. That's what we can call this one. Don Karpick, @TokyoBoiler on Twitter. Don wrote, "RBIPodcast, every time I think your podcast can't get any better you deliver something spectacular. Roy Spence is an amazing guy." Akshay Bhargava said, "Inspiring and thought-provoking podcast on purpose-driven business. Thanks, RBIPodcast and Roy Spence."
Andrew Clark, who had traveled in Malaysia this year said, "It took a while to figure out what this message was. Now I know the origins. Thanks." And he included a little graphic of an online digital ad that says, "Don't mess with Malacca." It turns out somebody who's in the Ad Bureau somewhere in Malaysia -- I did a little bit of background research on this -- who had been at the University of Texas a couple of decades ago was inspired by that and brought that over to Malaysia. "Don't Mess with Malacca." Thank you, Andrew Clark, for pointing that out.
Reacting to Roy talking about Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) queso -- because how could we not talk about this a little bit more -- [Steven] Horn wrote, "Exactly. Leave Chipotle alone. I like their queso. I was not at all chagrined to have them use all-natural ingredients. Why the..." And I don't mind sharing this word on RBIPodcast. Turn down the radio for your kids. "Why the hell not? There's not just one kind of queso. Why are we judging their whole business on this? Chipotle is following their purpose and should be celebrated for it. Love you guys, but I hope I never hear a discussion about Chipotle's queso in any of your podcasts again. Why kick the guy when he's down?"
Well, let's make it clear. On this podcast I think we were in support of Chipotle's to some mediocre-tasting queso because, as Roy pointed out [and I agreed], they stayed true to their purpose.
Just two more quick reactions to Roy -- and these are sequenced one, two for a good reason. Writing from Australia, Peter Felice, @PeterFelice, on Twitter wrote, "Love the purpose-driven podcast. One of the best I've heard. But I don't understand this phrase, 'I don't do miles.' Is that a U.S. thing? I'm from the land down under."
Now, Peter, you need to give a second listen and it's definitely worth it. I've heard Roy on this podcast twice, now, because I've listened to it twice I enjoyed it so much, and he was saying, "Don't do mild." M-I-L-D, not M-I-L-E-S. So, you're wondering what is that whole, "I don't do mild" thing.
Well, I thought this note, written by James Chen, serves as a pretty good response to your question, so here's what James wrote. He said, "Hi, David. I know you're no longer collecting favorite episodes from your listeners, but your talk with Roy Spence ranks among my own personal favorite in the history of Rule Breaker podcasts. When Roy started talking about 'I don't do mild,' I almost crashed my car out of laughter," James writes.
"As someone who subscribes to the Rule Breaker mentality, it's amazing to me how much depth and profound wisdom is captured in such a funny statement. I think many of our favorite entrepreneurs, those who lead the companies we love to invest in, epitomize the 'I don't do mild' mentality. Elon Musk, for example, is the poster child. As an individual investor I've also found that a 'I don't do mild' approach tends to lead to the best results in the long term. Whenever we try to 'play it safe,' like selling too early to 'lock in some gain,' [or] 'waiting for a pullback,' or 'setting some sort of stop-loss limit,' we inevitably end up missing out on some of the biggest winners."
James concludes, "I cannot recount how many times in the last two years that just when I thought a stock has run up too much, it went on to increase another 20%, 30%, 50%, even 100%. It's such a counterintuitive principle, yet it has been proven correct over and over again. Don't have a question for you this month. Just want to thank you for sharing Roy's wisdom with us. Have a great week. James Chen." Thank you, James, writing from your firm where you are the CTO at Derivatas, LLC. I think that's a pretty good answer to Peter's question about what that whole "I don't do miles" thing is.
That was all Rule Breaker Mailbag [Item] No. 1, just reacting to that spectacular conversation with Roy Spence.
Mailbag Item No. 2: Well, this one is a much quicker one, because I'm just going to say a lot of you wrote in with questions... get ready [and] drum roll, please, Rick... about cryptocurrency. Bitcoin, etc. Blockchain. And rather than try to tackle, as I did on last month's Mailbag with my friend Aaron Bush a question or two like that on this Mailbag, I decided, "Hey, let's have a follow-up on cryptocurrency."
Next week's episode -- to kick off December -- let's call it ahead of time "Crypto Catch-up," because I'm going to take a number of the good questions that you asked and have Aaron back. He's already consented to come back, get in front of the microphone, and talk some more blockchain. I know it's an area of extreme interest, so we try to reflect that back with our programming. By no means is this going to become the all-blockchain, all-the-time podcast. We're always going to be the Rule Breaker Investing podcast, but we definitely want to try to be relevant, and when we have interesting things to say, we're going to say them. So, get ready for "Crypto Catch-up" next week.
Mailbag Item No. 3: This one comes from Mike Strain writing from Claremore, Oklahoma. I always enjoy it when people include where they're writing from so thanks, Mike.
Mike says, "I started listening about a year ago. Really enjoy the podcast. Great mix of investing insight, interviews, and practical information. Love the series on great company culture." Thank you, Mike! Thanks for all of it.
"Now onto my question. I own shares of a Rule Breaker that had a 34% drop in one day last week." I'll just insert "Ouch!"
"I expect volatility with small companies and that painful drop seemed justified with the earnings miss." Well, that's a very mature thing to say. "But after listening to the earnings conference call, I had concerns that this small-cap company may be facing long-term problems. Are there specific things in conference calls or earnings reports that make you pause and think, 'I may need to consider selling this one? Thanks for considering my question."' You're welcome, Mike. Thanks for your question. I'll give you two, quick thoughts on this.
The first is when I'm listening to a conference call or just reading what people are saying online in an earnings conference call, I often listen for whether we're hearing what I'll call "corporate speak" or, by contrast, an authentic human voice. This is not a fail-safe, catchall panacea for avoiding all kinds of mistakes by holding or not holding onto a stock that has been downed badly.
But when I hear from real people real language explaining the mistakes that they made, the problems they have... When the Domino's Pizza CEO comes on and says, "Our pizza's just not good enough. Let's face it. We need to fix that," that kind of talk makes me feel really good about continuing to hold a company. Whereas if I'm just hearing the CFO read the boilerplate in front of me, and not really address what's happening with the company or try to put a good face on it, then I'm less likely to hold.
Again, I don't want to hold out any single factor or any single line or pose from an earnings conference call as the one decision point that you should make -- the one-factor decision that you'll make about a stock -- but I do listen for these things.
And then my second thought is always revisit the reason that you bought a stock in the first place. One of the things we do in our services is in both Motley Fool Stock Advisor and Motley Fool Rule Breakers, we have something I developed called the five-and-three, and that represents five things that we're looking for in future. Going forward five things we're looking for from a stock.
And when we see them that will be a good sign. We call those "green flags." We're looking for five green flags. Then we include three "red flags," as well. Three things that if they happen in the future, that would make us think harder about selling. So, that's the five-and-three. The reason we have more green flags than red is because we're optimists. I think that's the right approach you should take to life, let alone the stock market. We're looking for good things if we're going to recommend a company. We probably have more good things in mind than bad.
But you know, Mike, that might be something that you want to start doing, if you're not already. Before you buy a stock, list for yourself, briefly, the reasons that you're buying it or what you're looking for. If you're seeing, based on a big drop that the stock's taking, that it's driven by news that aligns with some of the bad stuff that you're hoping not to see, that might be a reason to consider parting ways.
And you should always consider the idea [and I've done this many times myself with many losing stocks] that so long as you don't add to a losing stock, when that stock [goes into a] nose dive, and some of ours always will, it becomes less and less relevant to your overall net worth. Assuming you're not adding on the way down, which I rarely, if ever, do; it becomes less and less consequential because your winners will wipe out your losers and you don't need to fret those big drops as much as most people, I think, tend to. Thanks for your question, Mike!
Mailbag Item No. 4: Mailbag Item No. 4 and Joe, I'm going to combine this into a couple of questions. My next guest, Joe Perna. You, sir, are who at The Motley Fool?
Joe Perna: Thanks again, for having me, David. I'm one of the financial planners at Motley Fool Wealth Management. We're down on the second floor. We help people with our Separately Managed Accounts that Motley Fool Wealth Management offers, as well as providing financial planning guidance to our clients.
Gardner: And you're also kind enough occasionally -- you, or Megan, or another member of the team -- to come on this podcast and help me tackle a question that I'm not as good at tackling, but that I feel is relevant. That I bet some other listeners have. Joe, you're here today with two answers for us.
Before we start that, where did you come from before The Motley Fool? Give us the 30-second your life story.
Perna: In college I started interning at Smith Barney. I got a job there. After college I started at Smith Barney. Then I moved to Morgan Stanley soon after. Worked there for about four years. Then Northwestern Mutual. I got a little taste of the insurance side of the business as well as the investment and financial planning side. And then came to The Motley Fool just over three years ago. I just had my three-year Fooliversary.
Gardner: And what motivated you to do that, Joe? Why The Fool? Do The Fool thing after such impressive previous firms?
Perna: It has to be partly the unbiased financial guidance that we're able to provide at Motley Fool Wealth Management, where we're not incentivized to sell certain products. It's really trying to give the best advice to clients for their current situation. There's no pull to push annuities, or insurance, or the certain strategies that we use in our Separately Managed Account platform. So, that unbiased look at things. Also, Morgan Housel was such a fantastic writer that I grew a huge appreciation for and [that] really put The Fool on the map for me.
Gardner: That is awesome. Joe, talking about answering questions, that's what you're here to do today. [Joel Riddell] has one for us. He said, "In an upcoming Mailbag, could you go through the mechanics of donating shares to charity." Now this is a good time of year to talk to this...
Gardner: ... because we're in the giving time of year and near the tax end of the year, Joe.
Perna: That's right.
Gardner: He mentions, maybe, also mentioning the tax benefits, of course. Pointing to any guides if they already exist. Joe, give us a little bit on donating shares to charity. Best practices.
Perna: This is a pretty straightforward thing that I would say is low-hanging fruit in the financial planning world. A lot of people will donate cash to either their local charities, religious organizations, or what have you. They do it just from their checking or savings accounts. They just write a check. Make the cash deposit.
But it's very easy to do a deposit of appreciated stock. When you look at highly appreciated positions -- maybe concentrated positions of stock that you want to offload -- you can choose to do that. From a tax benefit standpoint, the gains, instead of being taxed at either long-term capital gains or short-term capital gains on those shares; it ends up just going directly to the charity, so you get the benefit of the total market value that's donated at the time of the donation. Any appreciation from the original investment or the basis ends up -- instead of paying taxes like you would just with the cash that you have -- going directly to the charity, which is just a fantastic benefit.
Gardner: It really is, and that's how I've given, as I've given year by year...
Perna: Oh, really?
Gardner: ...for the last 20 years or so. Especially if you can find some long-term winners, that's a great place to give the most generously that you can in the most tax-efficient way. Are there any pitfalls or things to be watching out for?
Perna: There are limitations. For a highly appreciated stock, if you're giving to public charities, you can only donate up to 30% of your adjusted gross income, and for private charities it's 20%. You don't want to do more than that, but even if you do end up giving too much or over that mark of 30% or 20%, there is a carry-over that the charitable contributions could do to following years.
If you're trying to be specific with the year because you have the higher income this year than you expect to have next year, you want to make sure you just go up to those limitations and talk with your accountant, your CPA to make sure that you know that limitation and you're not doing more than you would want to.
Gardner: Awesome. And you want to call your organization you're giving to ahead of time. Usually you need to find out what bank account you'll be transferring the shares. There's a little bit of rigmarole, there, but in my experience, [Joel Riddell], it is worth it. It's a great way to give to max out your giving and get rid of capital gains taxes you otherwise would have paid.
Perna: Yes, and these days you can find a lot of that information online and find out contact information for the person at that organization that handles those types of requests. In my experience, when I've helped clients and actually reached out to those organizations directly, they've been so quick. Obviously, they would like to have those donations, and so they'll quickly respond to you to make sure that it gets taken care of seamlessly.
Gardner: Great! All right, Joe. Now, the second question, and we need to keep it moving here. I think I'm slowing us down with silly questions. This one's a little more technical, so I realize it's a higher degree of difficulty to nail this. I know you can do it, but if we can't do it all, maybe you can give a little bit more information about how to reach you.
Gardner: This is a question from Jeremy Nichols. I'm going to start off with what to me is the most fun part of this email. The whole thing's fun, but this is the most fun. "David and Team, I wanted to offer you my heartfelt thanks and congratulations for your recommendations and podcasts. Thanks to many of your picks, so far this year my portfolio is up 50%." By the way, I think that means Jeremy is outperforming me. Good job, Jeremy! "[This is] due to great companies like Align Technologies, NVIDIA, Universal Display, Match Group, The Trade Desk, Shopify, and Activision Blizzard." Wow, those are some dynamite companies. Let's keep pinching ourselves and recognizing there will be a few years like this one. It's been just a tremendous year, so...
Gardner: ... so good feelings all around. Here's the question that Jeremy has, Joe. "My question for you today is what is the best vehicle for additional savings to facilitate a potential retirement earlier than would be permitted by an IRA account where penalties seem to accrue to withdrawal before the age of 59 1/2?"
This is a guy who's 37 years old. He's maxed out what he can do within normal retirement investing. He's saying, "Do you personally expect this withdrawal age to increase over time?" How should Jeremy think about these things?
Perna: He's doing a fantastic job at saving into those tax-advantaged vehicles [the IRAs and Roth IRAs]. The simple way to do it would be in individual accounts or a joint account [if he's married]. That would be a really fantastic way to have an account that's invested.
If you are buy and hold, like we preach, here, at The Motley Fool and Motley Fool Wealth Management, you're buying and holding quality businesses for the long run. When you end up selling them [let's say you get to that early retirement like your goal is], you sell, and you have long-term capital gains. Depending on your income, that's likely going to be something like 15%. If you're in the highest tax bracket, maybe something like a little over 23%, but that's a much more favorable rate than short-term capital gains or IRA distributions once you turn 59 1/2, which will be your ordinary income levels.
You have preferential tax treatment on the capital gains, but those funds won't have any penalties, so if you invest [buy and hold] into high-growth businesses that, let's say, don't pay dividends, the only time that you have to pay taxes on the earnings, there, are when you end up selling them in order to create some income for yourself in retirement.
Also, there's some alternatives. For IRA accounts before you're 59 1/2, you can take 72(t) distributions. There's an IRS calculation that gets done to see a certain percentage of the IRA accounts that you're allowed to withdraw without penalty, which is nice. You'll have to pay taxes at ordinary income rates, but you at least don't have that penalty.
Also with Roth IRAs, it's something that we typically wouldn't recommend, but it's something to just keep in the back of your mind. The basis that you contribute to a Roth IRA can also be withdrawn without penalty. Earnings would be taxed and penalized on a Roth IRA before 59 1/2, but what you put into the Roth IRA can actually be taken out without penalty.
That's something to just keep in mind at those times. If you end up contributing over your lifetime -- your Roth IRA $100,000 -- you can actually withdraw that in those early parts of retirement without penalty. That's something to just keep in mind again for the long run.
Gardner: So now you'll know, Jeremy and Joel, why I have Joe on the show, because I'm not going to being doing 72(t) calculations or even quite knowing what those are without his help. Joe Perna, thank you very much for joining us on this episode of Rule Breaker Investing.
Perna: Thank you for having me.
Gardner: And Joe, with your dulcet tones, I just enjoyed hearing you talk. If I wanted to reach out for more from Motley Fool Wealth Management, how would I get in touch with the Joe Pernas of this world?
Perna: We have a team. We're available from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern at (844) 408-4390. You can give us a call and ask questions about our financial planning and also our personal portfolios where we do help clients invest. Where we invest on the client's behalf.
Gardner: Thank you!
Mailbag Item No. 5: This one comes from Jason Ruse, @RuseBrews on Twitter. Some of his pet peeves. "Just want to share this out, because how could I not [during] Pet Peeve month here at Rule Breaker Investing podcast." And I like these. Jason, you gave four.
No. 1, when people say, "At the end of the day." You know, like "At the end of the day." No. 2, when people say, "With that being said," and I see some similarity between these unnecessary phrases. Kind of a waste of airtime, if you will. No. 3 Jason had is when people say, "When all is said and done." And finally, No. 4. When people complain about money, but have nice things and don't work as often as they could or should. There's a little Scrooge for you just before we get into December. Thank you, Jason!
Mailbag Item No. 6: This one comes, unfortunately, from our transcriptionist, Deb, here supporting The Motley Fool. She points out a blatant mathematical error that I made, and I have to fess up on this one.
Here was what I said a few podcasts ago. "Middleby -- the commercial oven company and, increasingly, a dominant player, as well, in consumer kitchens -- is up 7% from two years ago. That's vs. the market's plus 25, so Middleby is now down 18% to the market." I'll just insert myself, here, and say "so far, so good." But listen for the math, here, Fools.
MicroStrategy, which has been the dog, is down 23% from where it was two years ago. Again, vs. the market plus 25 is a minus 48. Here comes the error. So, right now we're at minus 56 after those two stocks. Deb wrote, "I may have this wrong, but doesn't 18+48=66, not 56? And if so, were all the numbers in this entire section slightly off?"
And the answer is, unfortunately, yes. I get a lot of help and a lot of fact-checking. Unfortunately, as we're undermanned here at The Fool, often it comes after the fact. Rick Engdahl, my talented producer, and I, can only do so much. I am so fallible and faulty, and I'm grateful for the Debs of the world and my Mailbag correspondents for correcting me here and there. Thank you!
Mailbag Item No. 7: Lucky seven and I'm lucky to have The Motley Fool's own Jeff Fischer, here, to answer a question that relates to options. Jeff, how are you doing?
Jeff Fischer: Great! How are you?
Gardner: I'm doing really well, in part because you're here in the studio. One of my best friends, here, at The Fool. We've worked together for so long. You're helping me once again today by coming in and answering this Mailbag item. It's great to see you!
Fischer: It's a pleasure! Thank you, David!
Gardner: This comes from Eric Potter and Eric simply writes, "At our RBIPodcast, am I foolish or Foolish to devote a small percentage of my small portfolio to buying long-term call options on stocks I love [with] long term defined as 12+ months. Long-term call options on stocks I love."
Now Jeff, I already know that you have a good answer, but before you do that, can you define, for somebody who's just listening to this podcast for the first time what we are even talking about? Call options? What is that?
Fischer: Yes, I can try. I can do it. Not try -- do! A call option...
Gardner: There is no try!
Fischer: It was worth it just for that! That's a good Yoda, and appropriately timed, although I don't know if Yoda will be in The Last Jedi.
Gardner: Don't you think that Yoda...
Fischer: He has to make an appearance.
Gardner: ... appears in every movie since Yoda first appeared in a movie. He's got to be there.
Fischer: He has to. So, in the spirit of Yoda, let's do this. A call option gives its owner the right to buy the underlying stock at a set price, called the strike price, by a set date, which is the option's expiration date.
Gardner: In the future.
Fischer: In the future. The benefits of a call option include that it will cost a fraction of the share price, and it will represent 100 shares of the stock. So, if you wanted 100-share exposure to a company and for some reason Square (NYSE:SQ) comes to mind...
Gardner: Awesome. We love real examples.
Fischer: ... right now that would cost about more than $4,000 for 100 shares. Instead, you could buy a single call option for, just for example say, $500 and have exposure to 100 shares. It lets you leverage your money. It lets you take your money further. You profit in the call option as the stock rises and you lose as the stock falls...
Gardner: Rises, hits, and then rises above its strike price.
Gardner: For example, it could rise, but if it's at $40, and the strike price is $55, and it's
at $52, it's up, but you've lost everything.
Fischer: That's right. That's a really important distinction which feeds into our answer, as well to Eric's question which is, it is Foolish, I believe, to use some options in your portfolio if you want to and if you do so in a sensible way. And sensible, as we define it in Motley Fool Options [the service now almost nine years old], is to buy a call option that is typically in the money. If Square is a $42 stock, you'll buy a $30 or a $35 call so that you don't pay much extra value for that call option. You're paying intrinsic value. And then, David, you're already in the green.
Gardner: Where the stock's already above its strike price, it's in the money, and you're buying it then.
Fischer: Exactly. And so, in this example, if Square rises, say, 20-25%, your call option, in most cases, would rise 70-100%. You're putting leverage into your returns.
So as to the percentage of your portfolio, we don't really think of it that way. Options complement your long-term stocks. We want you to keep your stocks for the long term -- we all know why -- and use options on the side or as a sidecar in cases where you want the tools or the advantages that options provide you, which include leverage, risking less capital, getting exposure to more shares; all those things that can make your portfolio go a bit further.
Or, if you're not quite ready to buy 100 shares of a stock but you want the exposure, you will put $500 into Square and watch it for a few years before you commit to buying the stock. That's another way to use a call option.
Now, as for long term, that's the only we do it in Motley Fool Options. The longest term-dated option, when it's issued, has about a two-and-a-half-year life span. Right now, the January 2020 options are rolling out. Have been rolling out.
Gardner: Thirty months hence.
Fischer: Exactly. You can buy those, right now, and set yourself up for a pretty good amount of time, David. Two-and-a-half years, almost. Not quite long term by our definitions, but getting there. And then the good news is, too, you can close that option at the end of its term and buy a brand new one that goes another two-and-a-half years forward. So, in this way, as we do in Motley Fool Options, you can have very long-term exposure to a stock. You can continue it for a decade or more if you want to.
Gardner: I wish we could talk more, Jeff, but this is already going to be a long podcast this week. That was a delight. Thank you very much for sharing that perspective and helping out Eric Potter. Thanks for writing in, Eric, and if we want to have more options from time to time on Rule Breaker Investing, my listeners just have to ask more questions on the podcast. But in the meantime, Jeff, I really enjoy hearing you on Motley Fool Money, Market Foolery, and some of our other podcasts. Thank you very much for joining us this week!
Fischer: Thank you, David!
Mailbag Item No. 8: This one comes from Alan Morris writing from Toronto, Canada. "Hi, David. Would you be able to shed some light on MercadoLibre (NASDAQ:MELI)? Since July this baby's been making camel-hump patterns across the summer and now that its stock price is way down, I'm wondering if you'd still consider this to be another buying opportunity or a hold. Perhaps you'll even back up your position with why you feel that way."
Well, before reading the end of this note, I'm going to answer your question straight up right here. Alan, this remains one of my favorite stocks. Just to make sure everybody's clear, here, a little level setting. MercadoLibre in 2017 is up 70%. It has been a completely awesome stock and investment -- one that I have, and it sounds like you have it, too.
It has been volatile. In August it dropped 20%, basically, for that month. In October, it dropped about 20% that month. In between, as you mentioned, the camel hump kind of came all the way back, and now, here, at the end of November, it's basically all the way back from that previous 20% drop.
The bigger picture, here, is we love e-commerce, we love the leaders, and we love whole areas of the world that have an e-commerce leader, and Latin America has MercadoLibre. This has been one of our longest-held stocks in Motley Fool Rule Breakers. One of our biggest winners. It is a Starter Stock, if you join [and I hope you will] Motley Fool Rule Breakers. It's one of the stocks that we put out there to members and say, "Hey, you should start your Rule Breakers portfolio with this one." So, yes, we like MercadoLibre a lot and I hope it's clear.
Now, in addition, Alan closed his note, and I have to read this because I thought it was kind of great. "As an aside, you might be pleased to hear that last week, as I lay in bed at 1:00 a.m., wife snoring away [gently, of course, or she'd kill me for saying anything other]. Treating myself to one last podcast over my wireless headphones before I dozed off, you read out a question from your October Mailbag.
"Yup, 29 minutes in, you read a final blockchain question. My question! I heard my name and became giddy with silent laughter. My wife half woke, rustled the covers, asked if I was OK. I told her I'm great and to go back to sleep, hiding the Cheshire-cat grin on my face. But, of course, I couldn't sleep and didn't care. It totally made my evening, so I just wanted to tell you that I'm grateful and overjoyed. Above and beyond your sound investing topics and thoughts, this is one more way that you and your team make a difference in other people's lives. Thank you again." And thank you, Alan! Very Foolish of you, sir!
Mailbag Item No. 9: This one comes from Brian Stoffel, one of our contractors, one of our Motley Fool contributors, and a good friend of mine. "Just listened to the RBIPodcast. Funny thing," Brian wrote. "I never read the title of the article I retweeted, just the article. You read the title, but not the article. No value statement there."
He's referring to how I kicked off our ["Five Stocks That Will Let You Eat Cake"] when I was talking about making both "and" decisions, not "either/or." There was a title that I led off with, a headline that I'd read on Twitter and it was "Choose Time Over Money," basically.
And the humor is it was Brian's tweet that I was reacting to and I just read the title and reacted to it, whereas he says that's the one thing he didn't read. He read the article. So, between both of us he said, "Funny thing. In the end we both totally agree. Great episode." But yeah, I was guilty, in that case, of not actually reading the article. He missed the headline, but somehow it all came together and added value. Maybe you can see something of yourself in these social media gaffes.
Mailbag Item No. 10: This one comes from Steve. Steve writes, "David, I've enjoyed using your Rule Breakers service." That's our product over the past couple of years. "It's really helped me in my stock selections. However, I would like to know. Do any of your services ever provide assistance in managing selections for a 401(k) plan?" Steve writes, "My 401(k) only has mutual funds to select from. It currently accounts for about 25% of my net worth, and since I'm in my early 50s," [I'm in that same club, too, Steve], "I know I need to be wise in how I handle all of my funds. Appreciate any feedback you may have."
Well, who better to ask than Ally Wines, one of my favorite Fools, here, at The Motley Fool. Ally oversees our products at The Motley Fool. And Ally, I don't know whether we have the targeted answer for Steve, but give it your best shot. Give it our best shot. What can we do for the Steves of the world?
Ally Wines: For the Steves of the world. OK, so I'm pretending I'm Steve right now. Anyway, thanks for writing in, Steve. This is Ally, and I am part of our product team. And as I'm putting on my Steve hat and thinking about a 401(k), this is actually a dilemma I faced myself here at The Motley Fool with my old IRA from an old company.
We do have a resource, here, in our product suite and it is called Rule Your Retirement. In fact, one of David's fellow podcasters, Robert Brokamp, who's on the Motley Fool Answers podcast runs that service. He has an awesome section that's model allocations of funds that you can use in your 401(k).
Now the trick, he says, is that not all of those funds are available in every 401(k). But I love his service. I think it's something that every investor should check out. Again, it's called Rule Your Retirement. If you want to see what it has to offer, you could just go to RuleYourRetirement.Fool.com.
It's not just the allocation advice that he gives, but he also can talk to you about how to maximize your 401(k). How to think about it. Later in life how you want to think about drawing down. He's basically an expert in all these things, and he's our very own Fool.
Again, only about 20% of 401(k)s do allow you to choose individual stocks.
He also said, and this is a tip maybe you want to take, Steve, as I'm putting on my Steve hat, is you can ask your employer if they would consider allowing you to invest in individual stocks. It sounds like you have a penchant for it, already. Bro [what we call Robert Brokamp] doesn't know if it will work.
Gardner: Maybe if you treat that person to lunch, Ally? Maybe if you speak very nicely to them, and treat them to lunch, and invite them, maybe, to improve the organization's 401(k) plan, that's not a bad lunch spent.
Wines: I think that sounds like a wonderful lunch. Yes, David. So that was what Bro suggested. I do want to say that I'm happy that Steve is a Rule Breakers member.
Gardner: You betcha!
Wines: That is a wonderful service, and I have to take a moment to talk about what I'm looking at with our services, right now, [and] it's one of the services that you work on, David. Motley Fool Explorer is going to be running a special offer for members in the coming weeks. December 13 is the big day, but we'll be bringing some new members into the service, and it's great for folks who are familiar with Rule Breakers or Stock Advisor because it goes through all of David Gardner's awesome stock picks. Well, not all of them are awesome, but...
Wines: ... but most of them.
Gardner: I will say many, unfortunately. Not even most, but many.
Gardner: And enough that we crush the market by wiping out our losers with our big winners.
Wines: Exactly. And all the fans listening to this podcast know David's philosophy around investing, but I don't know how many of you are familiar with Explorer. What I love about this is each month we focus on a trend that's out there. Some recent trends are cloud computing. Mobile technology in China. Robotics.
Gardner: I've heard of those things.
Wines: And I just know from meeting so many of our members over the years and just hearing questions that people get excited around these. You want to know what the next big trend is. What are some stocks that [you] can buy now that maybe are going to take off, as robotics takes off and our whole world is run by these beings and creatures that we don't understand? And Explorer can help you do that.
We're really excited about this. I love this service. It's a lot of fun and it feels like a great next step for a lot of Stock Advisor and Rule Breakers members.
Gardner: That is awesome, Ally. Thank you very much for bringing an idea. I know you're head of our products, so you always have them on your mind, but your answer to Steve about Rule Your Retirement, which is one of our most popular services [is excellent]. And certainly, a lot of Motley Fool podcast fans who are listening know Robert Brokamp and realize that. Ally Wines, thanks so much for joining us!
Wines: Thanks so much for having me!
Gardner: And best for last, I think. Yup, I saved this one up to the very end. It's from somebody whose name may or may not be accurate. It's written, "Happy Thanksgiving from Jimmy." It's spelled J-O-K-A-L-O-T. So, on the one hand you could read that as "Jokalot," and you might wonder is that a name from, let's say, Indonesia.
On the other hand, maybe it's supposed to be "joke a lot," and given what I'm about to read it might be the latter. Jimmy, whoever you are, I can see that while we may never meet in this world, you and I would have been good friends, because I loved this note and I think it will be clear very shortly if you're a pet peeve fan, as to why.
Jimmy writes, "Dear David. I'm the alter ego of one of your loyal listeners who's currently out to change the world." If you do remember our Pet Peeves podcast, you'll remember that that is one of my Pet Peeves. People who say, "Change the world, change your life" when I think they mean improve. So, I'm just setting up the rest of this note by pointing out what he's doing here.
He goes on, "Let me be honest with you. Under normal circumstances, my other self would have written to you with some insightful questions, but since you went Ebenezer on us last week, it's only fair that I take this moment to introduce myself. I bought a few names this year, and many of them took a beating, but hey, I'm not worried. My other self blabbers on about the long-term Foolish mindset, but for me, I just think that I haven't really lost anything until I sell.
"Now, I could try to make this email somewhat worth your time, but since the weather forecast is showing a 0% chance of precipitation, I'm going to have to bail on you to do some places outside. Anyway, stop being so defensive and give yourself a gift by deleting this random email. Happy Thanksgiving. Jimmy Jokalot." Love that. Thanks.
All right. That's the November podcast that was. Next week it's time for some "Crypto Catch-up." I'll have Aaron Bush back to answer more of your question and my thoughts. We'll talk blockchain, cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin. In the meantime, have a Foolish start to your December! Fool on!
As always, people on this program may have interest in the stocks they talk about, and The Motley Fool may have formal recommendations for or against, so don't buy or sell stocks based solely on what you hear. Learn more about Rule Breaker Investing at RBI.Fool.com.