On this week's Rule Breaker Investing podcast, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner reviews the performance of a set of his stock picks made up of companies most folks won't have heard of.
Based on the philosophy "invest in what you know," they wouldn't make the average list: Middleby (NASDAQ: MIDD), MicroStrategy (NASDAQ: MSTR), NetSuite (NYSE: N), NuVasive (NASDAQ: NUVA), and Trex (NYSE: TREX). But there can be diamonds in the rough, and when he did his one-year check-in last November, all were outperforming the broader market. And today? Well, listen in and find out.
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A full transcript follows the video.
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This video was recorded on Nov. 8, 2017.
David Gardner: It was the November 11, 2015 Rule Breaker Investing podcast. It was entitled "Five Lesser-Known Rule Breakers." The five companies, in alphabetical order, were Middleby, MicroStrategy, NetSuite, NuVasive, and Trex.
And I said at the time two years ago that one of the key components of this group of stocks are probably if you're mentioning them to a friend at a cocktail party they don't know what this company is. These are five lesser-known Rule Breakers. Smaller companies. I reviewed this one year ago, so if you want to go back and listen a year ago, you'll hear me [happily] saying I'm not this good because all five, after one year, were beating the market.
Now, again, two years ago on this podcast I said, "Here are five lesser-known Rule Breakers. Let's watch them over the next three years." So here we are, two years later, tapping back in. How have they done?
Well, we have some interesting changes from a year ago, Matt Argersinger. The first thing I want to mention is that the stock market is up 25% from two years ago, so every one of these stocks was competing against that plus 25 bogey, and again, a year ago all five were beating that bogey. And, in fact, NetSuite was in the process of being bought out by Oracle (NYSE: ORCL). But things and times have changed, and to foreshadow a little bit, as it turns out three of these companies are now losing to the market. Two are beating them. Here we go.
Middleby -- the commercial oven company and, increasingly, a dominant player, as well, in consumer kitchens -- is up 7% from two years ago versus the market plus 25, so Middleby is now down 18% to the market.
MicroStrategy, which has been the dog, is down 23% from where it was two years ago. Again, vs. the market plus 25 is a minus 48. So right now we're at minus 56 after those two stocks.
NetSuite. As I mentioned, NetSuite was purchased by Larry Ellison's Oracle and NetSuite, a year ago, was up 6% when the market was up 5%, so we'll give it a plus 1%. But that's still not very good. We're still minus 55.
I regret to inform you that NuVasive has also since declined against the market. NuVasive is up 10% from where it was a year ago, but that's still a minus 15 for NuVasive.
So it all comes down to rolling the dice on the last one in alphabetical order, Trex. Before we roll the dice, right now we're sitting at a minus 70. On average the stock market is up around 20% to 25%. These stocks averaging typically being behind the market by about 15% to 20%, so all a little up.
But what's happened here with Trex has been remarkable. Over the last two years Trex is up, from two years ago this podcast, 165%. That puts it in a plus 140 against the market. And Matt, I believe that for each of these five-stock samplers, which I've done every 10 podcasts, or so [and this around No. 130], I believe I'm still undefeated in terms of beating the market every time, but this one has gotten perilously close.
Matt Argersinger: That's such a remarkable lesson, though. I mean, the fact that you can be wrong over two years, four out of five, and one [stock] can make up all the difference and a lot more. So I think net-net you're up roughly 70%?
Gardner: That's right, Matt. The number is plus 140 minus 70 is 70. So on average, again, the market, when you include the NetSuite buyout [which was just a plus six versus plus five], the market average is a 21% gain for these five, and these stocks average about a 35% gain thanks to Trex...
Gardner: Which gives a plus 14. So we're down a little bit from where we were a year ago, but I said a year ago I'm not this good. Don't hammer me when I end up going over five for one of these because it's going to happen at some point. So two of these five stocks are beating the market. One of them is inconsequential, but the last one, Trex, has been a home run. [Trex] is the outdoor decking company. Is this a stock that you hold, Matt? That you followed?
Argersinger: I don't own it and I haven't followed it very closely. We built a deck on the back of one of my rental homes a couple of years ago using Trex, so it really has become, I think, the go-to industry standard for [water]-resistant wood decking. All the contractors seem to be using Trex nowadays, so I'm not surprised it's had such an amazing run.
Gardner: Still a very lesser-known Rule Breaker and unknown company, I think, in the grander scheme. But yes, you're right. Composite decking, whether we're talking about in the home or in industrial circumstances. For example, here in Alexandria, Virginia, out on the waterfront they have a lot of the Trex decking.
Argersinger: That's right.
Gardner: You're right. It's [water] resistant. It's big. So enough with the lookback, but it's fun to see those five lesser-known Rule Breakers having changed a lot in the last year. Of course, this game's not over, so we'll check in one year from now and see how it all came out. I hope for some comebacks from Middleby, NuVasive, and MicroStrategy.
David Gardner owns shares of Middleby and NuVasive. Matthew Argersinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Middleby and Trex. The Motley Fool owns shares of Oracle. The Motley Fool recommends MicroStrategy and NuVasive. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.