2020 Stock Picking Contest: Final Results


We have a winner! The ABL 2020 Stock Picking Contest has finished, and Tawcan absolutely crushed the field.

However, we also have a couple of losers.

While I kept it a secret from everyone, my whole goal during the 2020 contest was to see if the How the Market Works site was sophisticated enough to handle margin calls for losing short positions. Turns out, it was not.

It was an almost impossible task to lose over $1 million to test margin calls, but I pulled it off with ease. Shorting Tesla was one of my pluckier moves, but my biggest coup was shorting Gamestop, which we all know is a fine business with a bright future, and losing over $700K on that trade alone. Truly impressive. But to the casual observer, it might look less like an important science experiment and more like I just lost a bunch of money.

On a more serious note, though, I have to declare that the How the Market Works site itself was a loser. This free contest site proved the ol’ adage “You get what you pay for.” It completely ate the entries of Dividend Growth Investor and PK some time during the 3Q. Nobody cares about PK, and I don’t think he had made a single trade anyway (his results below are an estimate of a modest return on cash – and Nelson clearly beat him). But DGI worked hard on his picks so that was a bummer. In happy news, DGI remembered which stocks he chose, so a team of forensic accountants have perfectly replicated the results he would have had I made a wild estimate of him being slightly down for the year. 

The most troubling failure of the contest website was that it almost ate Tawcan’s rather impressive entry. He disappeared from the ranking table, and he couldn’t find his entry when he logged on. But it was somehow still in the official spreadsheet results, and my Tesla loss was clearly his gain:


So we learned once again that shorting stocks is dangerous, a lesson I’ve been delivering with regularity. You are welcome.

We learned that Mr. Market thinks Tesla has a bright and wonderful future. Huh.

And we learned that the How the Market Works site may not be optimal for future contests. No one takes this all that seriously, but it is annoying that some results disappeared, and our winning entry came close. Also, the whole reason I started this contest was to get investing ideas from other people. That’s not possible when entries or positions get Thanos-snapped.

So where does that leave us for a 2021 contest? I can’t justify a return to How the Market Works, but I also don’t want to resume the manual labor of calculating returns on multiple stock positions per entrant.

So we’ll go with something light and easy. Since it’s a stock picking contest, we’ll be literal and assume that means a single stock. Also, to avoid the haymaker swings that have become my hallmark in these contests, we’ll also say you need to own irl the single stock you recommend. I’ll provide some more rules at the end of this post.

Thanks to everyone for playing, and let\’s all tip our hats to Tawcan for a truly impressive performance.

2021 Stock Picking Contest Rules

  • Pick a single stock that you already own (long positions only) that you think will beat all others in 2021 – tell me the ticker in a comment below, and if you’re doing something exotic like a foreign exchange, make sure that’s clear
  • Return (dividends included, but not reinvested) will be calculated from the close of the day you make the comment to December 31, 2021
  • All entries must be made by January 15, 2021

28 thoughts on “2020 Stock Picking Contest: Final Results”

  1. Ha! It’s interesting to see how the results turned out. Tesla definitely rewarded the winners and punished the losers of this contest. Very fun to see the hypotheticals while you make less risky moves with your own money in reality. Already looking forward to next year’s results!

    1. You’re in with today’s close of 23.37. It looks like there’s no dividend, making the calcs easy 🙂 And I’m not familiar with them, so the contest is working as it should. Thanks for the entry and a new stock to research!

    1. Yes, but I am so happy I didn’t short it in real life 🙂 I still can’t understand Tesla’s allure, but I did use my doubts on them taking over the universe to book a little GM gain last year. Maybe you need to keep riding the rocket ship in the contest and real life???

    1. Locked at a cool CAD 47.00. Disappointed the dividend yield is so low, and disappointed to discover they have nothing to do with Dungeons and Dragons.

  2. I’ll go back to the energy well and pick TC Energy TRP.to.

    I’d also like to take the opportunity to blame the contest site for my lacklustre results. It certainly didn’t have anything to do with my poor stock picking skillz.

    1. It’s yours for a modest CAD 53.63. This stock has Nelly written all over it.

      I didn’t realize I’d be getting mostly Canadian stock ideas, but I’m pleasantly surprised as I know next to nothing about any of them and will get reading.

      And yes, I blame the contest site for everything. I think the only reasonable response is to declare the results null and void and give everyone a shiny participation trophy.

  3. I’m more than a little concerned that I don’t like any of the stocks in my portfolio at current prices.

    But rules are rules, so I’ll go with my opportunistic position of CCL and hope the good times keep rolling. $20.14 as of today’s close.

  4. Put me down for COP. It may be boring, but I think it’s been ignored with everyone look up at TSLA’s sky high stock price

    1. It’s yours for the January 13 close of $47.03. If memory serves you rode it to victory in a prior year – hope for more of the same this year!

  5. I choose Altria (MO) for 2021

    Although I would never put my wealth in just one stock

    Perhaps at least two 😉

    I am not sure why the Stock Market Works website cancelled my account. Perhaps because I didn’t log on?

    1. Big MO is yours for $41.11. If you had to put everything in one stock, a company that sells an addictive product is not a bad choice. And I’ve love to see it do well this year for selfish reasons 🙂

      I’m not sure why the website selectively destroyed accounts. My kids never logged in after their first trade and they showed up the whole time – no rhyme or reason for what happened. Too bad, but this year will be an interesting evolution in the contest.

    1. Done – you’re in at the January 14 close of $42.02.

      And I’m with you – nice problem to have that you wouldn’t buy anything at these prices. But that is making me think maybe I should do some selling…

      In a completely unrelated topic, how is your sleep experiment going??? 🙂

    1. I guess we’ll allow that, though the Canadian market showed a shocking disrespect to MLK by actually being open yesterday.

      Your in at the January 18 close of CAD .85. This stock was definitely not on my radar!

      1. It surged in December, quite ahead of its time, but I’m a huge fan (moreso of late). Excellent leadership with a former executive from BestBuy and a wide product offering that I think is going to get more and more traction. See today’s announcement of a new customer (albeit small) – but I suspect many more to come.

  6. Hi Paul,

    Second-year in a row that my virtual portfolio beats my real-life one. :/
    Anyway, the result was not so bad.

    I know that the deadline was on the 15th of January, but If you can consider a late entry I would choose ABNB for 2021.


    1. Thankfully I continue to be the reverse – I’m much better in real life than I am in this contest!

      Since the U.S. market was closed yesterday, your entry is as good as a January 15 one, so no worries. You’re in at the January 15 close of $169.27. Good luck!

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