2018 Stock Picking Contest: Final Results


We have a winner! At long last the ABL Stock Picking Contest has concluded. If you want to relive the glorious saga from the beginning, feel free to go back and read the Q1, Q2, and Q3 results first.

I had a giggle near the end of the year as I looked at the results. My spreadsheet, once I pulled in current prices, suddenly showed Bamble the dog surging into 1st place. Sadly, his reign was short-lived; EGO had done a reverse stock split, so after adjusting he actually fell to the very bottom of the list, even below Steve. But that was a few days before year end…

Results are YTD through December 31 and include dividends paid.

PK has helpfully calculated the 2018 S&P 500 return at 6.59% (not reinvesting dividends is the apples to apples here). As a group, we didn\’t do as well, losing almost 12%. But who cares about the team score – this is all about the individuals. Who won, who lost, and who embarrassed himself? Let\’s find out!

Mr. Smith

  • ConocoPhilips COP 15.28%
  • Darden Restaurants DRI 6.03%
  • Alphabet Inc. GOOG -1.21%

Total 6.70%

Meet our champion. Smith is his real name, and no, it\’s not Nelson of Financial Uproar. Mr. Smith did something no one else in the contest could: he actually made money. Congratulations to our contest winner!

Mr. Smith is returning to defend his title in 2019, but I\’m not too sure about his chances. The only stock he\’s purchased to date (2019\’s contest is on a live trading platform) is (wait for it…) COP.

Dividend Growth Investor

  • Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF VYM -6.10%
  • iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF TLT -1.41%
  • SPDR Gold Shares GLD -2.74%

Total -3.42%

DGI discarded all of his excellent dividend-rich stock picks and focused on some ETF\’s that would do well in a downturn. That meant that he lagged the field each of the first three quarters. In the end, his bearishness was rewarded and he came in 2nd place, but it was a lonely journey. I believe there\’s a lesson there.


  • Federal Realty Trust FRT -8.27%
  • Alphabet GOOGL -0.77%
  • Paychex PAYX -1.48%

Total -3.50%

I still hate all of these picks, but by avoiding any real dogs, Mike turned in a market-beating and contest-leading performance.


  • Skyworks Solutions Inc SWKS -28.73%
  • Gilead Sciences Inc GILD -10.20%
  • Express Scripts ESRX 28.06%

Total -3.62%

PK was ever-so-close to the medal stand thanks to the acquisition of ESRX by Cigna. I may have been over generous with the ESRX acquisition economics (crediting him for day of announcement rather day of close), but I got tired head thinking about it – all the more reason I\’m outsourcing the contest calculations this year.

My 8 Year Old Son

  • Southwest Airlines LUV -28.56%
  • Target TGT 4.03%
  • Costco COST 9.98%

Total -4.85%

Not bad for a first-time stock picker. Target and Costco were his table-pounding buys and they performed brilliantly. Southwest was disappointing, but hopefully this\’ll be a better year – he\’s going back to that well for one of his 2019 picks.

My Money Wizard

  • Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF VTI -5.46%
  • Vanguard Growth ETF VUG -3.67%
  • Vanguard Total International Stock ETF VXUS -14.78%

Total -7.97%

In a surprising twist, My Money Wizard\’s market ETF picks ended up right in the middle of the results. Huh.

Mr. Tako Escapes

  • AerCap Holdings AER -24.77%
  • Amgen Inc. AMGN 14.03%
  • LyondellBasell Industries LYB -21.51%

Total -10.75%

Mr. Tako didn\’t medal, but he certainly found some companies that I like. I\’ve been eyeing AER and LYB for a while, and hopefully I\’ll have time early this year to do some proper diligence. Mr. Tako claims he\’s going to redeem himself in the 2019 contest, but at press time he hadn\’t even completed his entry.

Financial Uproar aka Canadian Dividend Investing

  • Argan Inc. AGX -15.09%
  • Morguard REIT MRT.UN -11.01%
  • Just Energy JE -15.22%

Total -13.78%

No real meltdowns here, but it may take a while for any value to poke its head out of the covers (these are Nelson\’s picks, after all). I like these stocks for the long-term, but sadly the contest was only a year. I\’d make fun of Nelson\’s pedestrian performance, but something tells me perhaps I should hold off.

Asset-Based Life

  • General Electric GE -54.84%
  • BP BP -4.07%
  • Sony SNE 6.84%

Total -17.35%

Whoa. Catching a falling knife is always a wild ride. But it appears that buying GE was more like catching a falling hand grenade. No matter – it\’s just a stock picking contest, after all. Oh wait – I still own GE and BP.

The Battle for Last Place

Bamble\’s picks, dragged down by EGO, started to seriously tank in Q4. Every time I checked the results in December, he was actually in last place. Watching the wafer-thin margin between Bamble and Steve got to be pretty entertaining, which may speak poorly of my current entertainment options.

In any event, the battle for last place went down to the wire. And everyone except Steve will be very happy with the result: Bamble prevailed.

Bamble the Dog\"\"

  • Motorcar Parts of America, Inc. MPAA -33.36%
  • Chubb Limited CB -9.79%
  • Eldorado Gold Corporation EGO -60.55%

Total -34.57%

Bamble was amazingly sanguine about his disappointing performance. It was almost as if he didn\’t care at all. His level-headedness and ability to live in the moment is truly admirable in an investor. While Bamble is long past what would be considered a normal retirement age – he turns 14 in January – he said he was happy to return and redeem himself in 2019. 


  • Alibaba BABA -22.30%
  • Starbucks SBUX 13.41
  • OHR Pharmaceutical OHRP -95.21%

Total -34.70%

Steve\’s contest was decided almost before it began when OHRP cratered in early January. Things got interesting, though, near the end as Bamble\’s picks soured and he vied with Steve, neck and neck, for last place.

While it\’s funny – some might say really funny – to say that Steve was beat by a dog, we must remember that Bamble\’s stock picks are meant to represent the \”monkey throwing darts\” portfolio that efficient-market proponents argue could do just as well as one selected by experts. In fact, if Bamble hadn\’t been limited to just 3 stocks, his random-selection portfolio might have beat many of us.

Bamble, ever the model sportsman, congratulated Steve for a great effort and said he was looking forward to renewing their rivalry in 2019. When informed that Steve was, in fact, opting out of this year\’s contest, Bamble\’s mood darkened and he exclaimed, \”What a little b****!\” When told that such an insult was extremely politically incorrect and wholly inappropriate, Bamble replied, \”Not for dogs it isn\’t.\” Fair point.

The 2019 Contest Has Begun

The 2019 contest is already in full swing, but it will be a different affair. Rather than just pick 3 stocks and hold on for dear life, I\’m using a stock contest website that allows active trading – it will make things more interesting and (far more importantly) make reporting results easier.

Entries for 2019 will close this week to avoid latecomers capitalizing on any market downturns. As you can see above, you don\’t need much skill at picking stocks to participate, so leave a comment below if you are interested (bloggers and civilians are equally welcome). 

Thanks to everyone for playing in 2018, and look forward to a formal introduction of the 2019 contest in the days ahead.




6 thoughts on “2018 Stock Picking Contest: Final Results”

  1. Hey I’d join in on the fun. I am just a lowly civilian but since my real life losses last year seemed to have barely beat the average this year I think I’ll join the fun 🙂

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