For people wanting to take charge of their money, a good investment newsletter can be worth a roomful of commissioned salespeople. Yet the downfall of many do-it-yourself investors is their stubborn unwillingness to pay for advice.
The foundation of successful investing is voluminous reading. People who publish newsletters do this for you. They also do the analysis, and many have impressive credentials.
Fortunately, some newsletters designed for individual investors are great bargains. The key is to find one or two that meet your particular requirements. The following are a few of the better ones, including some that are a delight to read even if they don't offer specific stock picks.
The Successful Investor:
This is the flagship for a family of newsletters published by Pat McKeough at tsinetwork.ca. Mr. McKeough's strategy is to invest in stocks (rather than bonds) of well-established companies across the five main industry sectors and to avoid shares of companies in the limelight. The newsletter includes buy and sell recommendations on a list of stocks the publication follows, updated regularly, and is an excellent tool for building a portfolio of individual stocks.
TSI's July issue includes an update on the newsletter's No. 1 buy, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. Mind you, CP has been in the news lately, but the negative views of the company's lacklustre past performance have drawn attention away from its underlying value and hidden assets, Mr. McKeough says. He also recommends CP's rival, Canadian National Railway Co.
Tsinetwork.ca also publishes the popular Canadian Wealth Advisor for income-seeking investors, as well as the Stock Picker's Digest and the Wall Street Stock Forecaster.
A one-year subscription to The Successful Investor costs $139, but the publisher is offering a special introductory price on its website of $89.
The Boeckh Investment Letter:
Published by Anthony Boeckh, former editor of the Bank Credit Analyst, this newsletter is intended for money managers and wealthy investors fearful of being sideswiped by a European meltdown or another financial panic like 2008. The letter offers a financial market overview, broad investment recommendations and a suggested asset allocation.
Conclusions from a recent issue are that stock markets have not yet fallen to the point where investors can snap up bargains and so it might be prudent to stay on the sidelines as the euro crisis unfolds. Mr. Boeckh is author of The Great Reflation, How Investors Can Profit from the New World of Money, so if inflation becomes a threat at some point, he will likely be among the first to detect it.
Such sophisticated advice isn't cheap: A one-year subscription to the newsletter costs $1,995.
Veteran technical analyst Ron Meisels is a regular contributor to this letter, which focuses on price rather than fundamental analysis. Mr. Meisels, founder of research service Phases and Cycles Inc., is respected for his ability to predict major turning points in the stock markets.
The group is best known for its forecast that the Dow Jones industrial average would hit 10,000 in the year 2000 – a call they made in 1995, when the Dow was just 3,800. Mr. Meisels and his team were among the first to identify the end of the bull market in 2008 and the beginning of the current bull market in April of 2009. Phases and Cycles describes its research as behaviour analysis, combining cyclical, sentiment and technical indicators.
NA Marketletter also publishes letters on energy stocks, golds and metals. The Prime newsletter, which costs $300 a year, tracks market moves and monitors a portfolio of featured stocks.
Grant's Interest Rate Observer
James Grant is known for his contrariness, his wry and elegant writing style and his prescience in discerning big financial market shifts. He is skeptical if not downright bearish on China and he frets that money printing by the American central bank will spark serious inflation some time in the not too distant future.
In his June issue, Mr. Grant wonders what bargains, if any, an "enlightened opportunist" might uncover in the panic over the euro. He also looks at whether the Chinese renminbi might grow up to rival the U.S. dollar, and includes a status report on the publication's China-themed short-sale candidates.
The price: $965 for a one-year subscription.
It's been said that the best things in life are free, and that may well be true for investment letters published for clients of brokerage firms, chief among them Basic Points, written by renowned portfolio strategist Don Coxe for clients of BMO Financial Group.
To his journal Mr. Coxe brings an impressive grasp of history and remarkable foresight. Long as it is, Basic Points is a pleasure to read. In his May issue, Mr. Coxe has a few kind words for the stock market but leaves his asset allocation unchanged. He does not make specific stock recommendations.
While North American stock markets may well soften near term, prices "no longer reek of 1990s greed and delusion," he writes. "Stocks – in particular the beaten down commodity stocks – are now far better bets than bonds." Assuming the United States avoids a double dip recession, "equity prices should soon be considerably higher – while interest rates will stay stuck near zero."
As well as advising BMO, Mr. Coxe is adviser to the Coxe Commodity Strategy Fund and the Coxe Global Agribusiness Income Fund. One of his more intriguing pieces recently suggested that troubled European countries issue bonds backed by their gold holdings, an idea that is being explored by the people in charge of such matters.