No. We provide recommended portfolios, and then we update our recommendations based on our methodology. The Company is not in the business of investing in any stock in any market. References to purchases and sales are references to recommended actions only. Our portfolio “values” are projections of stock values based on projected compliance with our recommendations and prices in the relevant markets at the time of our recommended actions.
However, one of our founders has invested personally in the 2020 Vintage for the S&P 500 index using an IRA account.
No. We do not manage money. We are not brokers, broker-dealers, money managers, financial planners, financial advisers, or fund operators.
We are publishers of stock recommendations. An investment adviser is a person (or company) that offers recommendations taking into account the specific situation of his, her or its clients. We do not do this.
Under New Jersey law, an “investment adviser” definitionally does not include “a publisher of any bona fide newspaper, news magazine, or business or financial publication of general, regular, and paid circulation.” N.J.S.A. 49:3- 49(g)(2).
The statutory exclusion is consistent with long-standing US case law. The US Supreme Court has distinguished “advisers” from “publishers,” with the latter having certain First Amendment rights. In Lowe v. SEC, 472 U.S. 181 (1985), the Supreme Court held that an on-line publication analogous to ours was found to be protected by the First Amendment and not subject to the Investment Advisors Act of 1940 (citing Sec. 80b-2(a)(11)(D)), which contains an exemption for “the publisher of any bona fide newspaper, news magazine or business or financial publication of general and regular circulation.”
Additionally, Section 101 of the 1985 Revised Uniform Securities Act (“1985 RUSA”) provides that:
(7) “Investment adviser” does not include – . . . (v) a publisher, employee, or columnist of a newspaper, news magazine, or business or financial publication, or an owner, operator, producer, or employee of a cable, radio, or television network, station, or production facility if, in either case, the financial or business news published or disseminated is made available to the general public and the content does not consist of rendering advice on the basis of the specific investment situation of each client . . . . 1985 RUSA § 101(7)(v).
Commentary offered by the drafters of the 1985 RUSA states that they revised their model publisher’s exemption to exclude actions which are not based on the “specific investment situation of each client.”
“Subparagraph (v) has been revised to make it clear that newsletters, radio, or TV broadcasts and other financial publications do not constitute giving investment advice if the information is made available to the general public and the content is not based upon the specific investment situations of the publisher’s clients.” 1985 Revised Uniform Securities Act, Section 101, Comment.
To obtain confirmation of our excluded status when we offer subscriptions, we will file an application to be a registered investment adviser and seek governmental confirmation of our excluded status. We will comply with the requirements of the NJ Bureau of Securities whatever they may be.
No. Given our operations, AML and KYC rules do not apply to our activities. Specifically, we do not manage, handle, transfer, or otherwise engage in any financial transactions of any kind with our customers, nor do we have any knowledge of what our customers are doing with their money. Down the road, our subscription fees will be paid by credit card using PayPal or Stripe, or other like intermediary payment system.
Let’s define Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) first, and then discuss its relevance to the ThinkingLonger strategy. According to Investopedia:
“Modern portfolio theory argues that an investment’s risk and return characteristics should not be viewed alone, but should be evaluated by how the investor can construct a portfolio of multiple assets that will maximize returns for a given level of risk. Likewise, given a desired level of expected return, an investor can construct a portfolio with the lowest possible risk. Based on statistical measures such as variance and correlation, an individual investment’s performance is less important than how it impacts the entire portfolio.” https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/modernportfoliotheory.asp
The essence of MPT is to craft a portfolio for an individual to maximize returns for a given level of risk. The ThinkingLonger strategy is absolutely indifferent to risks for particular individual investors. MPT is in the realm of the investment adviser, and is a well-regarded approach both for the professional and individual investor. However, we are not YOUR investment adviser, and MPT is beyond the scope of our analytics and deliverables.
No. Remember: past results are no guarantee of future performance.
Our entire methodology is based on examining past results (over a ten-year period) and initially making purchase and sales recommendations on the basis of that past performance. You can review the back-testing of our recommendations over extended periods of time and make your own assessment of the desirability of using our recommendations in your decision-making process.
No. Our back-testing reveals that, from time to time, our portfolios do not beat their relevant index in particular years.
Subscribers can review our back-tested performance histories which show just that.
However, when measured over more extended periods of time, our back-testing also reveals that our portfolios have in fact beaten their relevant index.
Obviously, there is always a risk that, in the future, our recommended portfolios will not achieve the same or comparable results as our back-tested portfolios have. This is a risk to be discussed with your investment adviser. Let’s repeat the obvious: there is always risk in stock investing. It cannot be avoided.
We certainly hope so. We want to help you make money, especially money that you can put away for retirement. But, every investor’s position is unique, and, obviously, we cannot guarantee that our recommendations will yield particular results for you. Moreover, market conditions and other events (war, plague, famine, etc.) and risks may affect your results. Additionally, your results may be affected by fees, commissions and other expenses that you may incur (none of which are reflected in our projected performance).
The precise details of our methodology for recommending the purchase of stocks are proprietary. However, we can share the following:
Only “winners” will be purchased – a winner being a stock that has average annual price increases of 20% or more for a period of ten years and whose annual performance is greater than the relevant index’s performance in the final criteria year.
Notwithstanding Rule #1, as a general rule, if a stock has a pre-determined negative price performance over a pre-determined period of time within that ten-year period, it will not be purchased.
We make no decision based on movement of market aggregates, indexes or moving averages. Except as a measuring benchmark, we are indifferent to whether any index goes up or down.
We exclude certain stocks that are vulnerable to domestic and international political events, governmental revenue restrictions and economic cycles. In the case of the Russell 2000 Index, we include ONLY financial services, health care, technology, consumer non-cyclicals, and consumer services stocks.
Replacement positions will not exceed 4% of the value of any portfolio. If we cannot find a sufficient number of positions to recommend, we may make a temporary decision to recommend holding cash. In the future, rather than hold cash, we may temporarily recommend making investments in a fund of a relevant index and/or in some alternative (e.g. Berkshire Hathaway (B Shares), Markel, or some other stock). We will advise our subscribers of such actions as they occur.
The precise details of our methodology for recommending the sale of stocks are proprietary. However, we can say that we recommend selling stocks that we define as “laggards” at the end of each calendar year.
A laggard is a stock that has a rolling 10 year annualized return that is (i) not at least equal to the ten year annualized return of the relevant index plus (ii) a certain percentage. The purpose of the laggard rule is straightforward: we only want to own stocks that are doing materially better than the relevant index – always measuring performance over an extended period of time.
Let’s get more specific. A stock’s rolling 10 year annualized return (i.e. price increase) must be at least equal to the relevant index’s rolling 10 year annualized return plus a certain percentage. We refer to this added percentage as the “laggard threshold percentage.” This is a proprietary figure (and it may change over time as more data becomes available). Said in a different way, to avoid being sold, a stock’s rolling 10 year annualized return must be 100% of the relevant index’s rolling 10 year annualized return PLUS the laggard threshold percentage.
So, let’s go through an example. Let’s assume the following:
The S&P 500 index’s 10 yr annualized return is 10%.
The stock of XYZ Corp. meets our purchase criteria; it is purchased at $20 per share.
We determine that, for the S&P 500 index, our laggard threshold percentage is 150%. (Our actual laggard threshold percentage is different. But, using this number makes the explanation easier to understand.)
To avoid being sold the following year, we need to determine a stock price of XYZ Corp below which it becomes a laggard and is recommended for sale.
To determine that price, we add (i) and (ii) below.
(i) The percentage increase of the S&P500 index’s ten year annualized return – 10%;
(ii) 150% (the laggard threshold percentage) of the S&P index’s rolling annualized return of 10% = 15%.
(iii) Adding (i) and (ii) = 25%
We can now establish a “floor” for the price of XYZ stock. Specifically, we multiply the original share price of XYZ shares ($20) by 1.25 (125%) = $25.00.
If the stock of XYZ Corp is less than $25.00 at the end of the year, it will be sold as a laggard.
A “Vintage” refers to the initial group of stocks that we identify for purchase in a particular year. As a general rule, we recommend purchases and sales once a year for each Vintage.
For example, in January 2020, we identified a group of stocks for purchase based on the preceding price performance of all stocks in a particular index over a ten-year period.
Every year thereafter, the stocks owned in a particular Vintage are reassessed and either recommended to be sold or held.
Our projections assume a January 1st purchase date, and a December 31st sale date. We will endeavor to publish our recommendations on those dates.
We use various indexes in effect as a filter for our purchase recommendations. We recommend stocks that are components of a particular index and then measure the aggregate portfolio value of that group of recommended stocks and compare it to the performance of the index that we used to find that stock in the first instance.
Each year, we update our recommendations in each Vintage by first identifying which stocks in the Vintage to sell based on our sales rule (i.e. the laggard rule methodology). Then we identify purchase candidates using our purchase methodology. Based on our prior recommendations, we calculate the amount of cash on hand for recommended purchases using the “available proceeds of sale” – as if our prior recommendations had been actually implemented – as well as any cash that was already “in” the portfolio. We then allocate the funds evenly across our recommended purchase candidates, ensuring that no purchase recommendation exceeds 4% of the overall portfolio value.
Situations may theoretically arise where the stock price of a purchase candidate is greater than the available funds allocated to purchase that candidate. In this scenario, due to our policy of only recommending the purchase of whole shares, we would recommend purchasing as many whole shares of the candidate and any “unspent” funds would sit in “Cash”.
First, we could not develop an investment methodology that beat the relevant index if we assumed the use of taxable accounts. Taxes, even capital gains taxes, eat up returns. Moreover, the competition (i.e. each relevant index) pays no such taxes; it simply exists as a benchmark (increasing or decreasing over various periods of time). To enable “apples to apples” comparisons, we assume the use of tax-free accounts.
Second, every investor’s tax situation is different, and we could not develop a methodology that would lead to credible recommendations that would be equally beneficial or appropriate for all subscribers. This is the role of investment advisers, and we encourage our subscribers to actively consult with them. We leave it to our subscribers to determine if our recommendations would be useful or beneficial in the context of taxable accounts.
As a general rule, we offer our purchase recommendations and Vintage updates at the beginning of January, and our sale recommendations at the end of December. Our core purchase recommendation is that an equal dollar amount of all positions be purchased.
Remember, we do not recommend trading. We are not opposed to trading. Rather, our service offers recommendations based on a “buy and wait” approach. For example, if a stock declines for 18 months, it may still recover in price by the end of the second year, and it might not then be a sale candidate at that time.
The stocks that are recommended for purchase and sale do not change except at the beginning and end of the year. However, should a subscriber wish to invest in the strategy midyear, we will offer a set of recommendations based on alternative, specified amounts that a subscriber might wish to invest (i.e. $6,000, $25,000, $50,000, $100,000, or other specified amounts), and the prices of our recommended stocks at that time. That set of recommendations will be an allocation of their selected investment amount to maximize the number of positions that a subscriber may purchase in the current Vintage.
Our purchase and sale recommendations are based on price performance over many years. We simply have not developed a methodology for recommending purchase or sale of particular stocks based on daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly events or information. When back-testing our methodology, we assumed NO sales at any mid-year period. There are other companies and services that may offer such recommendations throughout the year, and we encourage our subscribers to make such use of those services as they deem appropriate.
We expect that any purchase of any set of recommended stocks that does not occur as of the date and time that we issue our recommendations is almost certainly going to lead to different performance result at year-end. It may be better; it may be worse. It is impossible to back-test every possible purchase combination, and we did not attempt to do so.
Our methodology assumes that an investor purchases an equal dollar amount of each recommended position. In certain years, certain stocks that we identified were so expensive that we could not purchase all positions assuming only $25,000 to invest. There was just was not enough money to make all those purchases in equal dollar amounts.
We wanted to back-test a more realistic scenario in which an investor had $25,000 to invest. Our back-testing has still shown positive returns despite less than 100% investment, as illustrated below:
|Investment Amount||Average Annualized Return of All Vintages at Identified Level of Investment (1995-2020)||Average % of Candidates Purchased in All Vintages at identified level of investment (1995-2020)||Lowest Performing Vintage||Average Annualized Return of Lowest Performing Vintage Through 12/31/20 at Identified Level of Investment||Lowest % of Candidates Purchased in a Vintage at Identified Level of Investment|
|$5,000||18.5%||94%||2000||15.5% (2000 Vintage)||49% (2020 Vintage)|
|$6,000||19.2%||95%||2000||15.4% (2000 Vintage)||56% (2020 Vintage)|
|$7,000||19.6%||96%||2000||15.2% (2000 Vintage)||65% (2020 Vintage)|
|$8,000||19.8%||96%||2000||15.1% (2000 Vintage)||76% (2020 Vintage)|
|$9,000||19.7%||98%||2000||15.1% (2000 Vintage)||84% (2020 Vintage)|
|$10,000||19.6%||98%||2000||15.1% (2000 Vintage)||89% (2020 Vintage)|
|$15,000||19.7%||99%||2000||15.2% (2000 Vintage)||95% (2020 Vintage)|
|$20,000||19.8%||99%||2000||15.3% (2000 Vintage)||95% (2018 Vintage)|
|$25,000||19.7%||99%||2000||15.2% (2000 Vintage)||95% (2018 Vintage)|
|$50,000||19.7%||100%||2000||15.3% (2000 Vintage)||99% (2001 Vintage)|
|$75,000||19.7%||100%||2000||15.3% (2000 Vintage)||99% (2001 Vintage)|
|$100,000||19.7%||100%||2000||15.3% (2000 Vintage)||100% (N/A)|
Please note the very last column on the right. At the lowest level of investable funds, the percentage of positions that can be purchased goes down. However, even the smallest purchase ($5,000) in the worst performing Vintage (2000) yielded a projected return that was superior to the S&P 500 index’s return of 6.7% over a comparable period of time.
Finally, we note that an increasing number of brokers offer buyers the opportunity to purchase fractional shares of stocks, thereby eliminating the problem previously associated with buying whole shares in equal dollar amounts. We expect the availability of such purchases to increase over time.
We think that it’s useful to show an even lower level of investment based on an amount that would be contributed each year to a Roth IRA: $6,000.
|If you began investing $6k in…||Total $ Invested||Strategy Dollar Value||S&P 500 Index Dollar Value||Excess Return||Strategy Annualized Return||S&P 500 Index Annualized Return||Excess Annualized Return|
Down the road, when we enable real-time dashboards, you will be able to see price changes of every stock in our recommended portfolios, and the aggregate value of our portfolios typically with a 15 -minute delay (or more, depending on the data provider/aggregator we use and/or delays that result from acts or omissions by data sources (e.g. NYSE, ARCA, etc)). Remember, in the real world, prices change extraordinarily fast. If you want or need more timely stock information, consult your investment adviser, broker-dealer or other source.
No. We are neither opposed to the use of stop loss orders, nor do we recommend them. Our research reveals that, periodically, but unpredictably, the stocks that we proposed for purchase have in fact dropped in price from time to time. Our research reveals that often (but not always), they proceeded to recover in price. Our analysis suggests that, when we looked at the aggregate results of a recommended portfolio on an annual basis, using our rules for purchase and sale (essentially an annual reassessment of our recommendations), independent of daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly volatility, returns (i.e. projected gains or losses) were better than the relevant index.
Our subscribers may feel more comfortable using stop loss orders to establish a predetermined level of losses for the positions that are purchased. This is a choice for every individual to make. If you have an investment adviser, this is an issue for you to discuss and decide with him or her. Remember, this is your money!
We anticipate offering price alerts to our subscribers at some time in the future. It is likely that price alerts will have the same delays as the price information on our website.
There are already many sites that offer chat or message board functionalities to the investor community. We don’t want to try to replicate those services, and we encourage everyone to make such use of them as they deem appropriate.
In the near future, we may be presenting various subreddits that we think are of interest to our community (e.g. r/wallstreetbets, r/investors) and streams from other sites (e.g. ThinkAdvisor and AdvisorPerspectives) that provide what we believe to be entertaining commentary, thoughts and ideas. We will not be curating these sources nor can we vouch in any way for the accuracy, truthfulness or reliability of these sources and/or anything that they may present. Let’s be clear: we don’t endorse or in any way adopt the content of these sites. Moreover, we are not involved in the creation of any of the content on these sites. Finally, we are not paid by the moderators of any sub-Reddit or organization for posting their information on our site.
We have applied our methodology to five indexes, although we will only be publishing recommendations based on our analyses of the S&P 500 index. The five indexes are the S&P 500, MSCI EM, MSCI ACWI, Russell 1000, and Russell 2000.
Each index offers a bundle of stocks based on market capitalization and/or geographical location.
The S&P 500 index, or the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, is a market-capitalization-weighted index of 500 of the largest publicly traded companies in the U.S.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index stands for Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI), and is an index used to measure equity market performance in global emerging markets.
The MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI) is a stock index designed to track broad global equity-market performance.
The Russell 1000 Index, a subset of the Russell 3000 Index, represents the 1000 top companies by market capitalization in the United States.
The Russell 2000 index is an index measuring the performance of approximately 2,000 smallest-cap American companies in the Russell 3000 Index, which is made up of 3,000 of the largest U.S. stocks.
Initially, we will provide every subscriber access to the purchase and sale information for every S&P 500 index recommendation in every Vintage in every year for which we conducted back-tests. Down the road, we will be publishing recommendations based on other indexes, as well as the back-tested results for our recommendations based on those other indexes.
To date, we have conducted back-tests on Vintages for the following indexes for the years indicated:
|Index||Performance Years Measured||First Vintage Year|
Of course, it is also theoretically possible that we simply chose various positions – some successful, some not successful – to assemble a set of recommendations for every Vintage in every year for every index and are presenting those selections as “proof” of our analytics. What a tedious exercise and for what? To give away a free service? We did not do this. Of course, there are unscrupulous people in the financial services industry, and you should be on your guard and watching out for them.
If you suspect that our analytics are bogus in any way, shape or form, don’t bother using our recommendations. There are a lot of firms that are happy to invest your money for you; and there are many sites that offer financial recommendations – a few are free and others charge a fee. There are many subreddits where literally millions of people are sharing their opinions. Find them, use them and prosper.
Down the road, we are planning to offer access on a subscription basis to recommendations based on the five indexes that we have analyzed. Initially, our recommendations that are based on the S&P 500 index are going to be published for free. For our initial subscriber’s (i.e. those who sign up for the service for free), access to our S&P 500 recommendations will be free for an extended period after we begin to offer paid subscriptions.
It is our current understanding that we may need to complete certain regulatory compliance steps before we offer such subscriptions.
No. As a general rule, our best-testing shows our portfolio performance with no deductions for fees, commission or other transaction-driven expenses. We have no idea what these expenses would be any given subscriber. It is up to the subscriber to determine what impact such fees would have on their returns. We note that it is increasingly possible to avoid or dramatically reduce transaction fees associated with the purchase and sale of stocks, and we hope that our subscribers will be able to do so. We also assume tax-free or tax-deferred investing, and that our subscribers will make use of such opportunities.
Any performance returns presented in these materials reflect purely academic back-test performance, and do not represent returns that an investor actually attained. Our models are subject to certain rules and limitations (including but not limited to restrictions that we faced on our access to the historical performance of certain stocks), some of which, but not all, are described herein.
It is a widely held suspicion that hypothetical performance results are prepared with the benefit of hindsight. Put more simply, there is always a suspicion that the “books are cooked”. The historical back-testing results that we present are based strictly on the application of our formulas with no adjustment whatsoever.
It is also true that hypothetical trading does not involve financial risk, and no hypothetical trading record can completely account for the impact of financial risk in actual trading: the difficulty of purchase and sale executions at a particular price at a particular time and the “human” factor that applies to all trading (except algorithmic trading).
Finally, as noted above, hypothetical, back-tested performance results are not adjusted for the payment of any fees, expenses, transaction costs, commissions or taxes.
We wish we could find a reputable third-party analyst to examine our analytics and verify our results. We would welcome any qualified person (i.e. economist, CPA, CFP, Ph.D, etc) to examine our datasets (as long as he or she is willing to sign a confidentiality agreement and promise not to “steal” our methodology).