When former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov lost to IBM's Deep Blue chess computer a decade ago, we at The Motley Fool had our own particular insight into what had just happened. And even better, the insight -- translated to action -- has led us to pick numerous winning stocks in the years since. Below, I'm going to share with you five stocks our supercomputer predicts will beat the market going forward, and two that will not.
But first, let's go back to May 11, 1997
In an historic six-game match, Deep Blue and Kasparov were tied after five games. But in the closing Game 6, springtime in New York City, the computer absolutely crushed the chess expert -- in less than an hour, it ran Kasparov off the board in just 19 moves. Kasparov had officially lost the storied showdown. Extremely ill-tempered afterward, he accused the IBM team of cheating. To his credit, he also asked for a rematch ... which has never happened to this day.
But back to the investment insight. The headlines after the match all basically read like so: "Machine Beats Man." To which we at The Motley Fool said: Yeah, right.
Because it wasn't really "the machine" that beat the man. It was dozens of IBM programmers and world-class chess experts all working together that programmed the machine that beat the man. Key difference. It was a whole bunch of humans all ganging up on Kasparov -- and even worse for him, they were harnessing the power of a supercomputer! Game over, baby. Looked at this way, you can see how it was really an unfair fight.
A few years later in July 2001, I wrote an eight-page Word document that laid out how The Motley Fool could create an identical solution for investors. Start with the Fool community and its millions of visitors. From that, I hypothesized we could locate tens of thousands of superior investors. We would then build our own supercomputer, a database very similar to Deep Blue, except ours would be filled with stock picks, not chess moves. By combining our human intelligence with our computer's great big brain, I believed we could program it to beat The Man.
Who's The Man?
Who's Garry Kasparov in this metaphor? Take your pick: Either it's the S&P 500 market average, or a Wall Street analyst, or both. We believed that The Motley Fool community, working together with the help of a massive community intelligence database constantly refreshing itself with new data like a Doppler radar, would enable us to outperform Wall Street.
In October 2004 we began building it. We alpha-tested it privately for two years. We then launched it to a free public beta test in October 2006, and announced our first-year results in November 2007. By every measure, in its first year our community intelligence database known today as Motley Fool CAPS dramatically beat the market. The stocks our community rated high went on to outperform the market. The stocks our community rated low lost to the market. And the median performance of the 110,000-plus investors contributing their intelligence -- the median performer -- has exceeded the market averages by a few percentage points.
It's taken us 15 years to build up the Fool community we have. We call it "The World's Greatest Investment Community." And now we have the numbers to back it. Like Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon, where "all the children are above average," our average investor really is above average.
The stocks our supercomputer loves today
So what does the world's greatest investment community favor going forward? After all, past returns are just that. You'd probably like to know which moves Deep Blue is planning to unleash against Kasparov in their next game, if it ever happens. I can't tell you that. But I can tell you five stocks that Motley Fool CAPS believes will beat The Man over the next one to three years, with a line or two about why.
Here you are, in order of popularity on our system (measured by the number of stock picks made -- the database is now 2.4 million picks and growing):
(NYSE: MO)-- Largest U.S. tobacco company, recently spun off Kraft (NYSE: KFT)and Philip Morris International
(NYSE: CX)-- Undervalued cement giant operating in more than 50 countries
(NYSE: EMC)-- $30 billion IT specialist with $11 billion stake in VMware (NYSE: VMW)
(Nasdaq: MIDD)-- High-end commercial oven maker on a disciplined acquisitive growth streak
(NYSE: TTM)-- Dominant Indian commercial and passenger vehicles manufacturer
Do your own research on these and decide whether you agree with "Deep Fool." And while you're deciding, here's my other promised freebie: two popular stocks you may have looked at before (both have at least doubled over the past year) that our community does not believe will beat the market going forward:
- Pharmasset -- Unprofitable developer of anti-viral drugs
- Hawaiian Holdings -- Tiny oil and gas production company that's cash-flow negative
On whom would you bet your money today? Garry Kasparov, or Deep Blue?
From whom would you take your stock market advice today? A Wall Street broker, or The Motley Fool community?
Before you answer, how promising might it be if I told you that at Fool HQ, we have experts like Garry Kasparov walking around using our own Deep Blue (CAPS) to pick stocks?
That's right. The advisors who oversee our services at The Motley Fool -- people like, well, me, for instance -- actively use CAPS to help research our stock recommendations. We're shooting for the best of both worlds. As much as we may admire Garry Kasparov, or love the story of Deep Blue, we don't want to go with just one or the other. We hire Garry Kasparovs to use Deep Blue to play chess.
No wonder services like Motley Fool Rule Breakers are beating the market by a wide margin, despite the market's poor returns in the past few months. Of course, we're measuring our gains over years, so a few really bad months don't significantly affect our temperament or our investment approach. Sure, they may pull down our profits for a while, but in beating the S&P 500 by more than 10 percentage points per pick, we accept the occasional bear, and we try to take advantage of it by getting our favorite stocks at lower prices.
Right now I am excited about several recent recommendations at Rule Breakers. I invite you to take a 30-day free pass to check them out, along with my team's best buys for new money now.
Be careful, though. When you start beating up on the market, too, you might make Garry Kasparov -- or your broker -- upset.
This article was originally published on Feb. 11, 2008. It has been updated.
Fool co-founder David Gardner does not own shares of any companies mentioned. Middleby is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. VMware is a Rule Breakers pick. Kraft is an Income Investor selection. Cemex is a Stock Advisor and Global Gains recommendation. Tata Motors is a Global Gains pick. The Fool owns shares of Cemex and has a disclosure policy.