Once every four years, most of the planet turns its attention to the soccer pitch for an unrivaled sporting pageant: the World Cup. And while Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner is not a superfan when it comes to futbol, he’s a lover of sport in general, so it should come as little surprise that he, like billions of people around the globe, has his mind on the competition.
But, at the Fool, our ongoing competition is to help you beat the market, so whatever he’s doing, he’s liable at some point to try to imagine it through an investor’s lens. And in keeping with that sporting theme, he also tallies up the score on a set of stocks he recommended in June 2017.
A full transcript follows the video.
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This video was recorded on June 20, 2018.
David Gardner: Welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing! I hope you’ve noticed something is happening globally this month, June 2018. It happens for the men every four years and for the women every four years. It’s the World Cup. I don’t think I’m surprising most of you with that knowledge. Now, a lot of my American listeners may or may not even be soccer fans. I can’t really describe myself as a soccer fan. I am a World Cup fan. I enjoy these events for the men and the women every few years. I think part of what makes them awesome is that they’re only played, like the Olympics, every four years, so it makes them more special. As you get to be, in my case, 52 years old, you can even start doing some math and say, “How many more of these things am I going to be able to see?” Those four-year increments make things weightier in lots of interesting ways.
I think it’s a brilliant phenomenon, the World Cup. In fact, that’s our theme for this week in Rule Breaker Investing. In fact, I’ve brought together six … I’m going to call them observations, initially, six observations, having watched the first week or so of the World Cup.
Again, as not a traditional soccer fan, I don’t have a lot of savvy that I can bring. I do have some questions about the sport of soccer. I still think the whole shootout thing is silly at the end. I don’t like how, in tied games — which is dramatic and fun — I don’t like how at the very end, if we can’t resolve it after a golden goal and extra time, we go to this artificial format where we just kick the ball at the goalie. That would be like, for basketball, if you go through a few overtimes and it’s not resolved, you just start shooting free throws, and whoever misses a few free throws, that team loses. As a sports fan, it just doesn’t stick with the flow of the game.
I also, and this is maybe more of an American viewpoint, have some trouble watching players lie on the ground for prolonged periods of time, and in some cases clearly faking injuries, acting as if they’re hurt. For me, that doesn’t conform to my full view of masculinity, or fair play, or admirable behavior. I do think that’s still a big part of the sport, but I’m also a fan of video replays and a lot more of the scrutiny that’s on the sport these days to make sure it’s fair and well-reffed. I think some of the video assistant referee calls here in the first week have been important, and I like that. I like video replay in all sports. If I have any sports savvy, it doesn’t relate to soccer, but just my love overall of sport.
What I wanted to do for this week is, I just wanted to think through six observations and relate these World Cup observations to what works in investing and/ or business, maybe some lessons that we can extract from our experience of the World Cup — maybe you’re going to be watching it with your kids or your grandkids, maybe these points will come back to you that we’ve talked about this week. You might have an opportunity for family conversation. Just ladle one in, salt a point or two in there about investing or business with those that you’re watching the World Cup with. If that happens, then I’ve succeeded with this week’s show.
I also want to mention, toward the end of the show, I will be reviewing five stocks that I picked a year ago this week. Now, I know my longtime listeners know we do this. Every ten shows or so, I will pick five stocks, and then every year or two or three after that, we’ll go back and find out how those stocks did. I’ll remind you of the theme of the stocks that I picked a year ago. Again, if you’re a very longtime listener, you know that I have an incredible streak going with these five-stock samplers — 14 consecutive reviews that we’ve done, the first 14 times we’ve looked at these five-stock samplers picked over the course of the last three years. In every case, I’ve been beating the market with those five stocks. Will that continue? Will be #RBIStreak continue? We’ll find out near the end of this week’s podcast.
Alright. What I’ll call observation No. 1 — or, maybe, what do sports announcers do? They do things like keys to the game or takeaways. I’ll let my producer, Rick Engdahl, figure out what these are. This is observation/ takeaway/ key to the game No. 1 about the World Cup, and it’s just that it’s a global phenomenon. I think that, in many ways, is what’s most important about the World Cup, especially in an increasingly globalizing world.
As this world does globalize, friction comes up. Sometimes people don’t want to work with other people, or don’t want to trade with them, or don’t want to act the same way, or refugees show up and all of the sudden it changes the nature of what your country was. It’s a much more modern day phenomenon, globalizing.
I think it’s one of those, with Kevin Kelly here, inevitable forces. You may remember Kevin Kelly, his book, The Inevitable, which we’ve talked about on this podcast in months past. I don’t think that Kevin Kelly made one of his 12 forces that will shape our technological future — the subtitle of his book, The Inevitable — I don’t think that he made globalization one of them. But, you can certainly read globalization into forces like, well, sharing is one example of one of his chapters, one of those 12 forces, our tendency to share. Thanks to the internet and global trade and lower borders — all forces that clearly have been bringing this world closer and closer together in recent decades — I think it’s inevitable that, through sharing, we’re going to end up being even more global going forward. I realize some would certainly disagree, and some aren’t rooting for that, but I think that we do better as humans when we work together with each other.
Don’t you love that the World Cup brings together nations that are so different from each other? In fact, it’s being hosted in a nation that isn’t one of my favorite countries in the world, it might not be yours, either. I know one thing — Russians love Russia, and the motherland, and that feeling. Of course, everybody has some national pride, but I think especially Russians, going back to their great 19th century novelists — I’ve read a few of their books — I know that there’s a deep love of the motherland.
I think, based on some of the lawsuits that were launched at FIFA for choosing Russia as the site for 2018 that it maybe wasn’t entirely above-board how the World Cup did end up in Russia. But, I’m actually a fan of having the World Cup, sometimes, in repressive countries. I think it opens them up to the world and it makes all of us a little bit more aware and empathetic about that country and the people who live there.
So, I think it’s just tremendous, what a great globalizing force the World Cup is. I say the same thing of the Olympics. Both the men’s and the women’s game of soccer, soccer is the international sport. International football is what binds us together more than any other sport that I can think of, and I want to celebrate that as observation No. 1 this week as we think about the World Cup.
What’s the investing or business take away? A reminder, if you’re not a Rule Breakers member — our Motley Fool Rule Breaker service that I’ve overseen since launch in October of 2004, and picked, with my team, two stocks every month since October 2004 — you might not know if you’re not yet, I hope you will be, a Rule Breakers member, that three of the four best-performing stock recommendations in Rule Breakers history to date, companies that have gone up 20 or more times in value, three of the four are international companies. If you’re an American, they are not domestic players. They are global companies.
In fact, I’m not going to reveal their names, because I sure do want you to come join our service and find out what those companies are. I will name one company a few spots down the list. The No. 7 performing company is IPG Photonics, which I first picked in March of 2008. The stock was at $14 back then. It’s at $238 today.
One thing I love about IPG Photonics is that its CEO is a Russian-American. Valentin Gapontsev emigrated to America a few decades ago, set up shop with his engineering understanding and his inventions, fiber lasers, set up a superior, disruptive technology within the field of lasers, and IPG Photonics has been benefiting from that ever since. So, the No. 7 producer on our scorecard comes from, very specifically, a gentleman who came from Russia to America and started a great for-profit company.
Alright, I could certainly say a lot more about this, but we’re going to keep moving through our points fairly quickly, because I want to get to my review this week. Let’s just double underline it: the power of globalization. It’s so well evident. I hope, with good sportsmanship and the drama that will inevitably come through these games in the next few weeks, I hope we’ll all look back on the World Cup and say, “Wow, that was really great. That was great for the world,” not just for Russia or for your country, if they did well in it, but it was great for all of us.
Alright, observation No. 2, another key takeaway from this World Cup is that it’s scored. Don’t you love that sports, and other things I love like games, these things have scores. The World Cup without a score would be mostly pageantry. It would look like dance, which is a beautiful art form. But I think what adds additional zest for someone like me is that it’s a competitive game. That’s what’s bringing the world together. It’s things that have scores attached to them. As I’ve often said on this podcast, and I’ll probably say it until I’m blue going forward, we benefit so much by scoring things.
You know this as an investor. I hope, when you buy a stock, you type it into a spreadsheet or use your brokerage website, or you can use a Motley Fool scorecard — maybe on Motley Fool CAPS — and you should be noting where you got that stock. At what price did you buy it? Then checking in on it, maybe a month or a year later, you should be able to say, “That stock is up x%,” just like, “That team is up three goals.” Without scoring, we don’t really learn, do we?
I once wrote a series on fool.com, you can google it. It’s a three-part series about Moneyball, celebrating the work of Bill James, the great baseball thinker, and how his work as an academic observer, really, he was a journalist, how that work was taken and started to be used by the teams themselves to make better decisions out there on the field, and to improve their scores. Moneyball, the importance of counting, statistics, looking at the right statistics, these are all profound points for investors.
Do the sources of advice that you seek when investing your money score themselves? Can you transparently see how your broker is doing? Or, how effective Barron’s is with the performance of its cover stories? Or, that source you might be watching on television, does that person score him or herself in a way that you can see how they’re actually doing?
In my experience, it’s so obvious in sports. So many things are scored that we take it for granted. That’s why the stark contrast of sport with finance and investing, where so few people, it seems to me, score themselves, it’s such a stark contrast that I think, as investors, we should really insist as much as possible that our financial sources would have scores attached. Again, if you’re not scoring the game, you don’t know how you’re doing. If you’re not watching a game that’s scored, you can’t tell who’s good. That’s especially important when we think about our money.
I wish for you, observation No. 2, that you have scoring mechanisms in your life that help you make better decisions with your portfolio. This is just as true of us as business people, isn’t it? One of the old saws, you’ve probably heard this one, you might have even said it yourself, maybe you’re an entrepreneur, the old line — if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Now, I can easily argue either side, in support of that line, or take the con view and go against that line. But in this particular context, this podcast, this week, I’m going to say that’s a good thing. In our businesses, you want to be measuring the things that matter. That way, once you know how the measures are coming out, you have the numbers, you can make better decisions as a manager about whether to add more to that or subtract it or maybe sell it off. We need to know how things that matter are performing for us to make good decisions in business and investing and, of course, in life as well.
I celebrate that the World Cup is scored. I do have a gripe with 0-0 games. I personally don’t think any game should ever end in 0-0, but this is one of the longtime traditions of soccer and the World Cup. But, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. That’s very evident in sport. It should be evident in investing, and I bet you know it if you’re in business.
Alright, observation No. 3. Another thing I love about the World Cup is, let’s go with the word Excellence. I love that excellence is rewarded. Most of the time, the team that plays better wins the game. Ask yourself, who’s playing on those teams? Generally, the most excellent players that each country can muster. I like excellence in sportsmanship outside of the actual scores of the game, and so often, we see that. I think this is just as instructive for us, again, in investing and in business.
I’ve often said — in fact, one of my legacy lines, down the road — is this: “I try to find excellence, buy excellence, and add to excellence over time. I sell mediocrity. That’s how I invest.” That’s how I hope you invest. I think, being in pursuit of excellence in all areas of your life should be a lifelong endeavor.
Let me be very clear: in a world where many people think buy-low-sell-high is the proper way to invest, and I guess it has them looking for things that have been hit or near 52-week lows or things that don’t seem to be going so well, we’ve done better by reversing that old axiom. I like to say, instead of buy-low-sell-high, how about this? Buy high and try not to sell. When you’re buying high, what that means is, you’re buying stocks that have already done really well. And guess what? They usually keep doing well if the factors in place that have led them to be excellent are real, if they’re not flash-in-the-pan companies.
Being in constant pursuit of excellence, finding the best companies of our time, and you and I getting our money invested in them, we hope earlier, ahead of the mainstream, and then, especially — this is a key to Rule Breaker Investing — we keep holding well past when the mainstream and Wall Street have typically sold. We’re trying to find excellence, buy excellence, and add to excellence over time. We’re going to sell mediocrity. That’s how we invest.
Just to glide over briefly to the business realm where I think about excellence, here’s a thought for you. You may have heard — I guess I’m full of old saws this week — this old saw. It’s talking about hiring for companies. Here’s the line, maybe you’ve heard it, maybe you’ve used it: As hire As, while Bs hire Cs, and Cs hire Ds.
What’s that’s conveying is, the A players at a company typically can be expected, when they’re making hiring decisions, when they’re in their job interviews with multiple candidates, the As at your company are looking for other people who are awesome, because they know how important that is. They’re pretty awesome themselves in the first place, so they know what awesome looks like. As hire As.
Whereas, Bs, B players, these are still good employees at your company — presumably. I sure hope they are. I generally liked getting a B when I got one in college. I didn’t take umbrage that I hadn’t gotten an A. Bs, though, because they’re not As, sometimes they may either lack a view into what is awesome; or, a slightly darker side of human nature, they want to hire people who won’t look quite as good as they are, or might be subservient to them in some way. So, Bs hire Cs. And guess what? Cs hire Ds.
The focus, I think — and this is something we’ve done at The Motley Fool for years now, feel free to swipe a page from our playbook if you’re not already doing this — I think you should have your As doing your hiring. That even means, if you’re hiring a techie, maybe it’s not just all techies interviewing that techie. Maybe there are people from other teams that are A players, and you’re making sure they’re in there doing some of the hiring decisions even outside of their own team. As hire As. Again, a focus on excellence. I think that’s something that’s so on display when we watch the World Cup or the Olympics together.
Alright, we’ve been through three observations: The World Cup is global, your investing can be and should be, too; the World Cup is scored, and you should expect scoring going on where ever you want to manage things that matter; No. 3, excellence is on display.
Let’s go to No. 4. How could I not mention the simple word, this is a big one around Fool HQ, three letters, starts with F — it’s fun. It’s tremendous fun, watching these games. Even just by your lonesome, it’s fun to watch the pageantry, the colors, the jerseys, the different crazy haircuts and tattoos of the players, the mix of different countries. Watching a stadium full, let’s say two-third Colombians, one-third Japanese, good-naturedly sitting next to each other and having some fun with the rivalries of their teams. Of course, it’s extra fun to watch the World Cup with other people. The social experience of watching games together explains a lot of things worldwide, like the success of bars, for example. Other things also explain the success of bars. But, the fun that the World Cup makes happen.
Now, if it showed up every month, it wouldn’t be that fun. Part of the fun is that we wait four years for the women’s games and four years for the men’s games, and we get to enjoy them in those limited time periods. It doesn’t happen every month. That’s part of the fun, the spectacle, the color.
I think investing should be fun. You should be able to look up and down your portfolio and go, “Wow, those companies are really fun. They’re awesome companies, they’re innovative.” In my case, I’m always looking for innovation. I suggest you should, too. “They’re excellent. And what they do is fun.”
The output of a company like Starbucks — I mentioned to Howard Schultz just a little while ago, Howard Schultz, who I think is going to be running for president in 2020, we’ll see. I’ve been talking about this for a few years. How much fun has Starbucks brought to how many lives, just through making it possible to have that interaction in a third place that isn’t, as has been said, your home, it isn’t your work, it’s that third place where you can meet up and chat and get to know somebody, have fun.
Fun is such an important thing around The Motley Fool. I was meeting with some of our new employees earlier today. We had eight people in, a mix of Fools living here in Alexandria, Virginia with us, Fools in Foolorado at our Foolorado offices in Colorado, and then Fools from across the globe, like our new friend Hays Chan from Singapore or Liam Meltin from Fool Japan.
I had the pleasure, in a World Cup-like way, of sitting with those eight people earlier today. And what was I there to do? To teach a game. I had been put on the spot by our people and culture team here at The Motley Fool. They’re like, “Let’s have the co-founder, rather than lecture them, teach them a game.” Of course, Codenames, which is a game that I know some of you know. If you’ve been to FoolFest, you might have played Codenames before. It’s a very fine family game. I’ve mentioned it as one of my favorite games on this podcast and podcasts past. That’s what I was teaching our new employees, Codenames, and we all played that game together.
If you call yourself The Motley Fool 25 years ago — it’s our anniversary this year — presumably, you’d better be having fun at that company or this offices. Otherwise, where does this whacky name come from? I think my brother Tom and I forced fun, we channeled it from early on by calling our company The Motley Fool. I certainly wouldn’t want to go through investing, business, or life without having a lot of fun. That’s something that I know we all appreciate, those of us who watch and enjoy the World Cup.
Observation No. 5: there are surprises in the World Cup. That’s part of the reason a lot of sports fans enjoy sports. I don’t think it’s just an American phenomenon, I suspect it’s a global phenomenon, but since I’ve spent most of my time in this country, I know that in America, we love to root for the underdog. Again, I bet we’re not the only ones who are this way.
It seems like, when Iceland is going to be facing off against Argentina — as happened some days ago — and Iceland had literally never been in the World Cup before, and Argentina has won some of them and was in the finals of the last one in 2014, how much fun is it to think that a country, a nation of 300,000 — which is the population of Iceland today, about two-thirds of them just living in the capital city, living in the greater Reykjavik area — 300,000 people, and their soccer team in there for their first World Cup, and they tied! This is not a spoiler, this happened a few days ago, so you should already know. They tied Argentina! That’s a remarkable surprise. I’m not a sports betting man particularly, so I don’t know what the odds of that were, but I suspect those were long odds and a big surprise.
Now, how does that apply specifically to invest in? Well, it can cut both ways. You can have good surprises and bad surprises. Briefly, let’s start bad first. You should always be prepared to hear that something’s gone wrong with one of your companies. We’re all human, there are lots of errors. Sometimes, it might be some bad thing that’s happened out there in one of the company’s stores, and the CEO didn’t even know about it. Sometimes, there’s corruption in the office of the chief executive. All of these things have happened in business past to public companies. I’ve owned some of those stocks, too. I owned some Enron in one of my kid’s portfolios at the time. That investment didn’t do very well. We should always be prepared to be surprised badly by something that might happen with one of our companies.
So, of course, don’t load up too much on any one thing. That’s why we spread our bets. You can certainly overweight yourself, or allow great stocks, like some of the ones we’re talking about this week, to become outsized portions of your portfolio. But just realize that there could be really bad news announced tomorrow. That’s why we at The Motley Fool suggest you should not be on margin over-borrowing and loading up more than you have into the stock market, and you shouldn’t be loading too much on any one stock, because bad surprises — Argentina, Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina — bad surprises — Leo Messi — can happen. They will and do. The World Cup puts it on display for the whole world to see. And it’s good for the world to be reminded that surprises happen.
Surprises can be fun, too. Some of the best surprises I’ve ever gotten come from stocks that have way outperformed my expectations. When we initially purchased amazon.com, when it was Earth’s biggest bookseller, we certainly could not have foreseen all of the product categories Amazon would eventually enter. We didn’t even know what a cloud was back then — Amazon Web Services. We couldn’t have imagined that there would be something called Amazon Prime, or that it would give you access, for free, to lots of stuff like videos that Amazon is paying to make part of its service for Amazon Prime members, or maybe get discounts at Whole Foods.
I assure you, in 1997, when we bought amazon.com at $3.21, we did not imagine any of that could happen. And yet, all of that has happened and more, and the stock has so far exceeded any expectations any of us could have had that all I can say is, no one was a genius to call it, but you and I could be geniuses just to buy it and to add to it and to hold it, and out-hold Wall Street trading in and out of these kinds of companies. You and I can hold them over the course of our lives and do wonderfully. So, positive surprises, too. Surprise. It’s there in the World Cup, you have to love it.
That brings me to my final point before our short review looking at stocks from one year ago. The last and final point is a point about winners and losers flip-flopping from one World Cup to the next. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the 2018 World Cup, but I predict some countries that have had poor pasts in the World Cup will surprise us. Other countries that were heavily favored will disappoint us. And our perception of who’s a winner and who’s a loser will shift.
I was having this conversation earlier today with my good friend Chris Hill of Motley Fool podcast Fame. Chris was saying, “Think about Under Armour five or ten years ago. They were a dominant, branded force. And they vs. Adidas five or ten years ago, Under Armour was the clear, out-and-out winner. Look how things have changed here in 2018.” If you’ve seen some of the Adidas ads, and how expensive those must have been, you can see that Adidas can afford to pay for big-time ads with big-time personalities. Under Armour, in the meantime, is a company down on its luck. The stock hasn’t done very well.
But, take heart, my friends, because just as things flipped one way — if you’re an Under Armour shareholder, and I still am, be patient, because often, they’ll flip another way. I’ve recently been thinking about Lululemon, which was down on its luck some years ago and is now at all-time highs. People don’t talk about Lululemon as much today, maybe, as they did when it was an emerging public company, with the yoga pant craze and all the success Lululemon was having. It hit a hard time, and now it’s back on top of its world.
The winners and losers keep shifting. You should definitely notice that in the World Cup and appreciate it, and realize that, if your team didn’t win at all this year, or your stock didn’t have a great year, maybe you should stick with it. If you still see elements of excellence in place, I bet the wind will move behind you and get at your back at some point in the future.
That’s a good way to transition into the end of this week’s podcast, which is, I review five stocks picked a year ago. Now, I already mentioned this. If you’re a regular listener, you know that there’s an amazing Rule Breaker Investing podcast streak. I’ve picked five stocks for years now, and every single one of them, the 14 that we’ve done, were all beating the market. The question is, would the #RBIStreak stay alive?
I’m going to tell you right now; the streak is over. I’m not going to bury my lede, I’m going to go with the headline. This is a podcast partly about winners and losers. Sometimes we need to be ready to be surprised, even if we thought we’d found excellence and we’re having fun scoring the global challenge of the five stock samplers. If you have all of the elements of this podcast in your head now, you can appreciate what I’m about to do here. I want to review, let’s check the score on five stocks riding the bull market.
These stocks were picked on June 21st of 2017. You could say, you can definitely accuse me, if you’d like, of hot dogging it a little bit. If you go back and listen to last year’s podcast this week, you’ll see that I was intentionally picking stocks that had already had monster runs. Because of my belief, which I’ve conveyed throughout this podcast and many others, that generally the winners keep on winning in life, and you want to add to your winners, I admittedly was maybe hot dogging it a little bit, because I was saying a year ago, “People think the bull market’s over. People think that stocks that have already had a big run can’t continue.” I was saying, “Watch me. Let’s pick five stocks that have already done great through this bull market, they’re riding the bull market, and let’s pick them to beat the market for the few years ahead.” Here we are, one year later. What were they, how are they doing?
The first one up is iRobot (NASDAQ: IRBT). iRobot, I picked at $98 this week last year. Today, iRobot is at $78. It’s down 20% — $98 down to $78, rounding. The stock market, for score comparison, over the last year is up 14%. It’s been a wonderful last 12 months. The market’s average gain, as I know you already know, is about 10% a year, here in the U.S., anyways. So, 14%, that’s a better-than-average 12 months. The good news is that the bull market has continued. The bad news is, my stocks that I had selected to ride this bull market, not enough of them have done that over this last 12 months, iRobot being one. So, we start with iRobot down 20%, but since the market was up 14%, that’s a -34% for stock No. 1.
Stock No. 2: Pegasystems (NASDAQ: PEGA), ticker symbol PEGA. Pegasystems is a company that, for a long time, that has been in the AI business. This is an important technology. This is a small-cap company. It can’t bring the kinds of Google – like resources to AI. Google is the one that created AlphaGo, the amazing game-playing AI beating the world’s Go champion. That’s not going to come from Pegasystems.
But, it’s been a wonderful company and an out-performer. Alan Trefler, the CEO, a chess master himself. Pegasystems, over the last year, from $59 a year ago to $60 today. It’s up $1! That equals about 2% rounded. The market, of course, up 14%, so that stock is 12% behind the market. That’s now a -46%, for those scoring at home.
Let’s go to stock No. 3. This is when things go from bad to worse. The company is Impinj (NASDAQ: PI), its ticker symbol is PI. This is a company that allows people to manage their RFID chips. You might have a little chip in all of your different products or all of your trucks. You’re basically trying to keep count of stuff by adding RFID chips to them. You can manage that whole infrastructure and system through Impinj’s platform.
The company does it very well, but it was a stock riding high a year ago and things slowed down. Some of the business we were hoping to see hasn’t yet come through. Impinj has dropped from $55 one year ago — this is what happens, my friends, when you’re negatively surprised — to $22 today. Ouch! That’s a 60% drop. Again, the market is up 14%, so that’s a -74%. Added to our -46%, we’re now, after these first three stocks, down 120%. It’s about to get a little bit better, but not better enough.
Stock No. 4 is Wayfair (NYSE: W). Ticker symbol is W — yep, that’s right! It’s basically an internet play that somehow scored one of the precious one-letter ticker symbols that are available out there. Wayfair, just W. Wayfair is a company that competes with Amazon, but not across all categories. Really, Wayfair is about furniture and furnishings. For example, maybe you have a child that’s going to be moving into a dorm this coming fall. They might want a bed frame. You could order a bed from Wayfair for that child. The company does great e-commerce. It’s hard to compete, if you’re Amazon, with this company, because these are bigger things to ship, and Wayfair really specializes in that.
The stock a year ago, $75 a share. Today, $112. That’s a wonderful 49% gain for a stock that had already run up a lot and was riding the bull market and continues to do so very well. 49% ahead minus the market’s 14% is a plus 35%. That brings our -120% down to -85%.
The final company, one of my favorites, a company I’ll continue to favor for years going forward, and that would be Zillow (NASDAQ: ZG) (NASDAQ: Z). Zillow, a year ago, was at $47.50. The ticker symbol is Z or ZG, depending on which of the two flavors of shares we’re talking about; it’s the same company, though. $47.50. Today, $63. So, Zillow up 33%. Another great company riding the bull market. If you deduct the market’s 14% from that, you get a plus 19%.
That brings us to the final total for these five stocks after their first year of -66%. Now, if you divide that by five, what that’s telling us is that the average company in this five-stock sampler has underperformed the market by 13%. In other words, the market over the last year is up 14%. These companies average being up 1%.
I have to say, I’m obviously disappointed. A couple of real clunkers there. I will say, going forward, I continue to be confident. I like all five of these companies. I certainly haven’t soured on any of them. Impinj might be the one, both the poorest performer and the one I have the least confidence in. But, going forward, I’m going to continue to favor this approach of finding the winners, though the #RBIStreak has now ended, sadly. We’re 14 for 15. I’m not going to learn too well any lessons from this one, because my belief that we should find excellence, buy excellence, add to excellence over time, sell mediocrity, that’s how we’re going to invest, is not shaken at all by this one-year under-performance for these companies.
Best of wishes in the year ahead to iRobot, Pegasystems, Impinj, Wayfair, Zillow, and all of the many other companies that you and I are invested in, many of which I’ve mentioned during this podcast. Thank you for sharing this World Cup moment with me. We’ve had some winning and, indeed, in this podcast, we’ve had some losing. That feels very apropos of the World Cup.
Let me mention in closing a few housekeeping notes. Next week is our RBI mailbag. Yep, it’s that podcast each month where you email us ahead of time — firstname.lastname@example.org is our email address — any questions or thoughts or suggestions. If you have an inspirational story you’d like to tell about how investing has helped you in your life, I share all of those things each month, every month, for years now on our Rule Breaker Investing podcast. I’m excited, as always, for that one. Next month, you can also tweet us out @RBIPodcast.
Then, I want to mention, the week after, two weeks from now, I will be picking my next five-stock sampler. I’ll be a little bit wounded based on the performance of this one, my tail between my legs a little bit, but I’m still going to bring you out, I hope, five winners. And, why not? Let’s World Cup-theme that five-stock sampler. It’ll be five stocks for, of course, the next four years, companies that in some way connect in or inspire me from the World Cup of 2018. We have that to look forward to.
Final housekeeping note: we have an extra for you! I’m really happy to let you know. I shared a little of Dan Pink with you a couple of weeks ago on this podcast, when he told his stock story. If you didn’t hear that, you should definitely at least zoom to the end of that podcast and listen to the last five minutes, as Dan Pink tells one of my favorite stock stories, tremendous. Well, that was an excerpt from a full-form interview I did with him at FoolFest. If you’re a Dan Pink fan, I know you’re going to enjoy this weekend, because you’re going to have the unedited, full interview with Dan.
In particular, how he ends that interview is pretty hilarious. I’ll tell you ahead of time, we surprised him by asking him — since it was the graduation time of year, June — we asked him, with music starting to play, and he was completely ad-libbing and unprompted, to give a 45-second commencement address to Fool University — a made-up school, of course. Dan Pink does a tremendous job at the end of that interview, ad-libbing an inspirational commencement talk. That’s a little bit of amusement for your weekend.
In the meantime, thanks for allowing us to try to educate, to amuse, and to enrich you every week. I’m David Gardner, this has been the Rule Breaker Investing podcast. Fool on!
As always, people on this program may have interests 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.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. David Gardner owns shares of Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Impinj, IPG Photonics, iRobot, Starbucks, Under Armour (A Shares), Under Armour (C Shares), Zillow Group (A shares), and Zillow Group (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, IPG Photonics, iRobot, Starbucks, Under Armour (A Shares), Under Armour (C Shares), Wayfair, Zillow Group (A shares), and Zillow Group (C shares). The Motley Fool recommends Impinj, Lululemon Athletica, and Pegasystems. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.