Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner regularly recommends sets of stocks on the Rule Breaker Investing podcast -- essentially giving us all a free taste of the choices he and his team make in Motley Fool Supernova's portfolio universe. And he holds himself accountable, annually going back over those five-stock micro portfolios to let everyone see how he scored against the benchmark of the broader market.
Right now, it's time for that yearly review of the ones he picked to honor the month, and also the briefly famous pregnant giraffe: five companies, and the first letters of their tickers spelled out A-P-R-I-L. They were Axon Enterprise (AXON 1.39%), Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacific (PAC -3.74%), ResMed (RMD -0.07%), Intuitive Surgical (ISRG -0.86%), and Live Nation (LYV 1.04%).
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on April 18, 2018.
David Gardner: For each of these samplers I have a theme. I have a title. And I surprised you. I had a little fun with it last year. I, in fact, listened to the podcast again as I drove into work this morning just to make sure that I was doing my homework, and as it turns out my five stocks last year didn't have a theme that united them all together.
However, there was a little secret at play [that I let you know at the end of last year's podcast] and that is that the five company names [the ticker symbols] -- the first letter of each spelled out the word April, which seemed appropriate.
My talented producer, Rick Engdahl, tends to name every single one of these podcasts and writes the little helpful intro that you can read and see what we're doing from week to week. And Rick, I want to invite you on here for a cameo. Rick, you named this podcast a year ago: Five Stocks For April The Giraffe. At the time I think you mentioned why it was April The Giraffe. I have to admit a year later, now, these stocks are still fresh in my mind, but I can't remember why this was Five Stocks For April The Giraffe.
Rick Engdahl: You don't remember? Doesn't everybody remember April The Giraffe? Well, just to make sure that I was remembering correctly, I went to Google.
Gardner: So, this wasn't necessarily fresh on your mind one year later.
Engdahl: Well, it is fresh on Google's mind, however, because if you type in "april the," the very first entry to come up is giraffe, April The Giraffe...
Engdahl: ... who was internet famous a year ago this time because April The Giraffe was about to give birth to a baby giraffe. It was being presented live on YouTube, and so the whole world was tuning in to see this new baby giraffe being born, and everybody was talking about April The Giraffe. That's how we named the episode and today, of course, is the birthday of Tajiri [or Tahiri -- I'm not sure how it's pronounced], which is the baby giraffe's name. So, maybe this will be Five Stocks for Tajiri, today. I don't know.
Gardner: I love it! These stocks are aging along with Tajiri. So, that's April The Giraffe. Rick, thank you!
Engdahl: Maybe these stocks should have been in Tajiri's 529 plan. That would have been nice.
Gardner: We're about to find out. So, Five Stocks For April The Giraffe. They spell it A-P-R-I-L. Let's spend a minute or two going over each one and what's happened.
Stock No. 1: So, the first one was Axon Enterprise. Now, Axon Enterprise had [speaking of names and newness, Rick] just changed its corporate name to that name the very month that we did this podcast a year ago. It used to be known as TASER. But Axon Enterprise -- the same company that sells Tasers and has innovated with the Taser -- changed its name to its other key product, which is its police body cams. And that's such an important trend.
I was talking about that a year ago -- how Axon Enterprise's main profit source [still is today] was the Taser, but as it builds out police body cams [not just here in the U.S., but globally], it's a lower margin. They don't make as much money off its product and they're sort of in development stage, still. They started losing money with that a year ago, and so it was depressing the corporate results.
But, if you really thought about where the world is headed and how this company was leading us there, you recognized beyond the body cams themselves [the Axon body cams]; the company has Evidence.com, which is the website where up in the cloud all of these videos from all these police departments are stored, and that is a subscription service that police departments buy. So, Evidence.com, Axon, and Taser the stock was at $23 when we did this podcast and I picked it a year ago. It's now up to $43.00. So, it's been a tremendous year for Axon, ticker symbol AAXN, up 87%.
Now, I should mention that the S&P 500 over the last year is up 14.5%. We'll round that up to 15% just to give Mr. Market his due, so we're competing against a +15% with each of these picks. I'm going to foreshadow and let you know, dear listener, that this was the best of the five stocks. Nothing did better than +87%. A tremendous year for Axon and I'm really excited that it's in the Rule Breakers portfolio. I hope it's in your portfolio, too. In fact, the name of this sampler, when I pick stocks a little later, is going to be something like Five Stocks That I Own And You Should, Too.
Now, I wish I did own Axon. I don't own all of my 220 picks, but I sure hope you listened a year ago. I know many of you do own Axon through Rule Breakers and wow, what a great year it's been, and I really like this stock going forward. When I picked these stocks for April The Giraffe, unbeknownst to me at the time a year ago, I did say these are for the next three-plus years, so we'll be reviewing this list of stocks each of the next three years. Year one awesome, Axon!
Stock No. 2: Stock No. 2 picked a year ago hasn't done quite as well. In fact, foreshadowing again -- spoiler alert -- this is the one stock that has underperformed the market. It's still up 9%, but Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico -- or PAC is the ticker symbol -- the company that is the leading operator of airports in Mexico was at $100 a share a year ago. It's up to $109 today. So, simple math is a 9% gain.
And so, against the S&P 500 of +15%, that's a -6%. So, this one's in the loss column. I don't have a lot to say about PAC other than this is a stock that we'll continue to recommend. It's a very hard business to compete with. They basically operate these airports with a contract with the government, and they get to run all the concessions and the mall within the airport. That's all part of this business.
I like the stock a lot and it's recovered pretty well since diving right after President Trump was elected and Mexico fell out of favor for a couple of months. If Mexico were a stock for the long term, I'm a buyer and one way you can participate in Mexico's growth over the next couple of decades would be through a stock like Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico. Again, pronounced by somebody who took French in high school.
Stock No. 3: ResMed. This is the company solving sleep apnea with its CPAP devices and this is a company that really innovated and brought that technology to the world. For people who are having trouble sleeping with clogged airways as they're sleeping, ResMed is their best friend.
The stock, a year ago, at $69. Happy to say it's up to, well, just before this podcast taped it was at $99.91, so we'll round that one to $169 to $100 -- that's a 45% gain. Not bad in a world where so many people are told it would just be lucky to pick stocks that would beat the stock market. This one has done it and done it handily, so up 45% over the last year vs. the market's return of 15%. That's a +30%. So, if you're scoring with me, the first one was a +72%, then a -6%, then a +30%. We're solidly in the win column.
Stock No. 4: Let's go to the "I" stock from our April stocks a year ago. That's one of my favorite companies, a stock that I own, and have held for more than a decade, and that would be Intuitive Surgical, the maker of the da Vinci robot, the surgical robot.
Really, it's sort of a misnomer when you say surgical robot. A lot of people picture something that's moving around and performing surgery on people. If you remember some of the scary images from, let's say, Logan's Run and if you remember what happened to Farrah Fawcett Majors in that movie, you have bad feelings when sometimes you think about surgical robots. But no, this is actually kind of a [machine with four arms] that sits over patients and the doctor will be sitting off to the side with his or her hands in gloves that are manipulating the arms of the da Vinci surgical robot. It turns out you don't even have to be in the same room as the patient. You could be in another city and be an expert in operating minimally invasively on patients.
And whether we're talking about a prostatectomy, [the removal of the prostate for prostate cancer], or hysterectomies, colorectal cancer; increasingly the da Vinci surgical robot is the answer, especially for patients who want to walk off the hospital bed faster than they would have in the past when they got cut into by human hands. This minimally invasive surgery that sounds attractive to you does to me, as well, and that's part of the growth story behind this worldwide leader in robotic-assisted surgery. I love Intuitive Surgical and I sure do love the stock price.
Now, we first picked it at Rule Breakers almost 15 years ago at $44 a share, and I was putting that number out last year when I did the podcast for April The Giraffe and "I" was Intuitive Surgical. It had gone from $44 to $794 since we'd held it for a decade plus.
Well, the numbers have all changed a little bit, because in October of last year, just a few months ago, the company did a three for one stock split, so all of the numbers changed a little bit, but now adjusting for that, technically a year ago I picked this stock, then, at $269 a share for you in this podcast, and today I'm happy to say it's up to $422.
So, with the market up 15%, Intuitive Surgical is up 57%, which gives us a big, fat +42% in the win column, juicing our numbers and making -- was it Tajiri, Rick -- even happier as these stocks grow up with that little baby giraffe. They're the same age, and I think we do grow from a percentage standpoint, most of all in our first year, if you think about it, as babies progress from zero to one, and we're seeing some huge growth from these stocks in their first year picked for April a year ago.
Stock No. 5: That leads us to our "L" stock, and L is Live Nation. This is the company that was formed by a merger of Live Nation, the concert venue and rock-star-promoting business that it is. So many musicians, today, of course, make most of their money on tours, since the sale of CDs, you might have noticed, has dropped off a cliff in recent years. Live Nation, then, bought a merger with Ticketmaster, so this is the company that sells you the tickets to come into its venues to watch the entertainment that it's promoting. It's a tremendously powerful model.
I don't see any real competition for this company and actually, thinking backwards through the five stocks for April The Giraffe, think about the companies and how little competition or how dominant they are within their industries. Whether you're Axon Enterprise, I really can't think of an alternative to Taser or police body cams. There are some small competitors out there, but there's no Pepsi that I see to Axon's Coca-Cola, and I would say the same thing for ResMed. I would say the same thing for Intuitive Surgical. Sure, for PAC, our Mexican airport operators and for Live Nation. So, you're starting to look and see into the secrets of how I think about picking stocks and which businesses you and I want to own for years.
Live Nation is a market beater over the last year. At this time last year, it was at $31.50 as we did the show. Today it's at $38.50. It's up 22%. I will never sneeze at that. That's good. I'll take that annualized every year if I could get it against the market's 15% because it's been a good year for the market. That's a +7%.
I'm warming up my five next stocks to pick on this week's podcast, but before we do... You thought I was going to do an ad read. Nope, I'm going to do stats. I'm going to give you the numbers that we just covered.
So, with Axon, Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico, ResMed, Intuitive Surgical, and Live Nation, if you top them up, they're beating the market by a combined 145%. Those in the industry call that alpha. For every percentage point that you've beaten the market you've generated one point of alpha.
There's a site that you may have seen some news stories from Seeking Alpha, which is a popular news site these days, and that's what they mean when they say seeking alpha. You and I are seeking alpha on this show every week, and so what we just generated was 145 combined points of alpha divided by the five stocks. Schoolboy math has me going that the average performer, here, 145% divided by 5% is 29%. So, the average stock we picked for April The Giraffe and you a year ago is 29% ahead of the market after a single year. A great year for the market +15%. These stocks average +44%.
Something remarkable is happening with this podcast. I don't know what to say other than I honestly can't believe that all our five-stock samplers for the last three years are all beating the market -- most them trouncing the market. You and I will certainly know the market has been strong, but the whole point of alpha isn't whether the market is up or down. It's how you're doing vs. the market, and I am very proud to know that these five picks are going to be growing up with Tajiri in the coming years and we're off to a great start.