2018 Stock Picking Contest: 1Q Results

\"\"The first quarter of 2018 saw many discover a shocking truth heretofore unknown except to the most wizened elder sages: it is possible for the stock market to go down as well as up.

And that terrible fate struck throughout our 2018 stock picking entries. While the market was down a little more than 1%, our entries were down as a group by 6.5%. Yikes.

However, as my 10 y.o. astutely pointed out, our median was much higher than our mean. (If you don’t remember your 5th grade math, it means a few of us were downright terrible.)

You can read a recap on the contest’s inception here.

The results below have not been audited. As in poker (“the cards speak”), the return of your picks is what matters, notwithstanding any miscalculation on my part. In fact, I think I’ll go ahead and miscalculate between 0 and 5 of the results below just to see who’s paying attention.

Any entrants who want to see my spreadsheet are welcome to it, though changes to data pulls from google finance have left it a shadow of its former self. I’ll tidy things up (or find some rube to take over the calculations) by contest end.

Here, from best to worst, are the entries:


Slowly but surely, I am learning that inviting PK to your contests is a bad idea. Last fall he joined my fantasy football league and crushed everyone. Now he’s the stock picking leader with the only positive return for the quarter.

  • Skyworks Solutions Inc SWKS 4.77%
  • Gilead Sciences Inc GILD 5.22%
  • Express Scripts ESRX -7.88%

Total 0.70%

When asked for comment, PK said we could put his trophy with the rest of them. When reminded he hadn’t yet won, he said he was just trying to save us a later trip.

My Money Wizard

Our official boringest entry lived up to its name. It also beat almost everyone.

  • Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF VTI -1.06%
  • Vanguard Growth ETF VUG 0.67%
  • Vanguard Total International Stock ETF VXUS -0.84%

Total -0.41%

Mr. Wizard was taking a nap and could not be reached for comment.

Financial Uproar

Nelson has a new site you should go check out if you’re Canadian or like dividends or fancy yourself an investor. If you’re all three, this is your lucky day: Canadian Dividend Investing is open for business.

  • Argan Inc. AGX -5.50%
  • Morguard REIT MRT.UN -0.80%
  • Just Energy JE 3.62%

Total -0.89%

When asked for comment, Nelson simply gushed with amazement and gratitude that the stock picking results had been calculated. When told that it wasn’t actually that hard, he ran off, claiming he needed to do something.

Mr. Smith

Mr. Smith put together a strong showing, and if not for his ill-advised Darden pick (who does eat there? seriously – let me know in the comments), he might be leading us all.

  • ConocoPhilips COP 8.14%
  • Darden Restaurants DRI -11.26%
  • Alphabet Inc. GOOG -1.58%

Total -1.57%

Mr. Smith was unable for comment as he was busily eating handfuls of Olive Garden breadsticks. When told that would not actually help his results, he managed to mumble, “I know. But they’re SOOOO good.”

Dividend Growth Investor

DGI may not be topping the charts yet, but Vegas now projects him as one of the favorites to win.

  • Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF VYM -3.24%
  • iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF TLT -3.24%
  • SPDR Gold Shares GLD 0.91%

Not sure how VYM and TLT have the same return, but I’ll crowd-source that quality check.

Total -1.86%

When asked for comment, DGI said he was willing to lose a lot of his personal money and have the economy nigh-near destroyed as long as it meant he could win this contest. And it appears he’s in luck.

My 7 Year Old Son

This entry has legs and could challenge for the title. Perhaps Warren Buffett will acquire LUV and lock in a contest-winning return. My household is certainly working hard to help my son’s picks.

  • Southwest Airlines LUV -12.90%
  • Target TGT 6.22%
  • Costco COST 0.91%

Total -1.93%

When asked for comment, my son sought confirmation that he was beating both dad and Bamble and then asked to play video games.

Mr. Tako Escapes

I was intrigued by Mr. Tako’s picks, and I’ve been looking longingly at AER for a while now. At some point it may well skyrocket, and then I’m going to congratulate myself for almost buying it.

  • AerCap Holdings AER -3.65%
  • Amgen Inc. AMGN -2.02%
  • LyondellBasell Industries LYB -3.94%

Total -3.20%

When asked for comment, Mr. Tako said he had everyone exactly where he wanted and he preferred a slow start. Quoting cartoon character Francesco Bernoulli, Mr. Tako quipped, “To truly crush one\’s dream, you must first raise their hopes very high.” Stock picking is serious business for Mr. Tako.

Asset-Based Life

You would think that my many years of practice trying to catch a falling knife would have paid off by now. Or that I would have learned that it’s dangerous and stopped trying. Wrong on both counts!

  • General Electric GE -22.64%
  • BP BP -2.19%
  • Sony SNE 6.38%

Total -6.15%

I still have faith, but the clock is ticking on GE. No matter – I may have my first pick for next year’s contest.

One fun fact of my entry is that I own the two losers (but don’t own SNE). Funny how that works.


This might be a fine entry when things are good, but I’m worried that FRT and PAYX will wilt in these troubled times. A retail REIT certainly does look overly bullish in hindsight (it actually looked too bullish in foresight, but let’s be nice).

  • Federal Realty Trust FRT -12.00%
  • Alphabet GOOGL -1.51%
  • Paychex PAYX -9.15%

Total -7.55%

When reminded that he was beat by a small child, Mike countered with, “Yeah? So what? I totally crushed the dog!”

Bamble the Dog

It’s time to start bragging. Almost all of us did better than a dog this quarter.

\"\"Before we get too cocky, though, it’s worth noting we were all one piece of kibble away from being steamrolled by Bamble. Bamble’s body was headed to ACER GNK SFE (up over 15%), but he got distracted along the way and picked the EGO dumpster fire.

  • Motorcar Parts of America, Inc. MPAA -14.18%
  • Chubb Limited CB -6.11%
  • Eldorado Gold Corporation EGO -42.47%

Total -20.92%

When asked for comment, Bamble said he’d like to go for a walk.


I fully approve of Steve’s approach to the contest, but I did note at inception that “OHR feels like a massive swing for the fences.” He made it a full 4 days into the contest before the wheels fell off.

Only time will tell if Steve can pull back into the race beat a dog and a child at stock-picking, but a microcap meltdown is going to be hard to counter with two large caps. OHR is the story here, and looking at their business, I was reminded of the famous saying: if you live by treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration, you die by them.

  • Alibaba BABA 4.05%
  • Starbucks SBUX 0.41%
  • OHR Pharmaceutical OHRP -88.30%

Total -27.95%

Steve declined to comment. Styling a green eye shade, he was last seen poring over a Value Line binder to prepare his 2019 stock picking contest entry.


It appears that volatility in the stock market is now officially a thing. A trade war (or a real war) could seriously hurt the economy and the stock market. We’re in for a wild ride, and we’ll be back in a quarter or so to see how folks are faring.

Thanks to everyone for playing, and good luck!


7 thoughts on “2018 Stock Picking Contest: 1Q Results”

  1. The whole trade war business is putting an interesting *spin* on this contest that we couldn’t have guessed at the beginning of the year.

    Did you tally up dividends into these numbers Paul?

    1. Yes, it’s going to be interesting to see the impact of a very different market on a bunch of individual shares (with some of them off the edge of the map of my normal awareness).

      Paid dividends are included in the results – I don’t believe we had any earned but not paid, but I figured those would even out by year end anyway. Since I forced all interlisted shares to default to the U.S. exchange in an effort to #MAGA, I even got to convert Nelly’s Canadian $ JE dividends to USD – the only case in recorded history when a #MAGA effort has backfired.

      The dividends will sit in your mattress all year, though – no reinvestment of them. I know that brings special pain at a philosophical level to many of our entrants, but it keeps things simple.

      Thanks again for playing!

    1. Yes, but you know all too well the canny ways of PK – he’s just trying to make us all feel like we have a chance before he surges ahead. But a nice showing so far – you’ve skipped some of the stages of your normal investing cycle of grief!

  2. Cool summary 😉
    I would short GE with all the money I have, it needs to disrupt the market to stay relevant.

    1. Yes, GE has its troubles to be sure. I think (thought…) there is some residual value there, but the market continues to say otherwise.

      The good news is that you don’t need any money to short – have at it, and as long as you’re right (and don’t see a single bounce up) you’ll make money like Midas 🙂 But I think shorting a falling knife is even more dangerous than catching one, and the story is not yet done for GE (just the chapter where it scuttled my chances at this contest).

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