5 Stocks the World Really Needs Right Now: A 1-Year Performance Review

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Longtime listeners -- and even more recent arrivals to The Fool -- will know one thing for sure about Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner: He loves to keep score and he's scrupulously honest about telling you whether or not his picks went up or down, or beat or lagged the market. Back in February 2017, on the Rule Breaker Investing podcast, he suggested a group of five stocks to buy that he thought matched the direction in which the world was headed. Now it's time for an update. How have Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS), FactSet Data Systems (NYSE: FDS), Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG), The New York Times Co., and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) done overall compared to the S&P 500?

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Feb. 21, 2018.

David Gardner: Let's review five stocks the world really needs right now. Now, that's a podcast. You can go back and listen to it since I'm proud of the work. Feel free to go back. It was last February. You'll see February 2017 when we were talking about the world and trying to match stock picks to where the world was headed, which is arguably what I try to do every week on this podcast or in our work at Motley Fool Stock Advisor and Rule Breakers, but very explicitly a year ago picking five stocks toward that. We're going to review them right now really quick because we're near the end of a fun show that had its center elsewhere.

Here are the five companies in alphabetical order and how we are doing. I want to mention that each of these was picked for the next four years -- I was saying four more years at the time -- so this is just the end of year one. Let's see how they're doing.

First of all, the S&P 500 -- our bogey, our competitor, our arch rival -- what the academics tell you, you can't beat. It would just be luck if you were to be beating the S&P 500 over any given period. The S&P 500 over the last year, since that podcast, up 16%. So, each of these will be compared against the S&P 500.

The first one up is Alkermes . Now, Alkermes is a company that made itself famous, buttered its bread on drug delivery systems partnering with other drug companies, and getting that drug from that drug company to your bloodstream or to your organ drug delivery systems. Began making its own drugs recently, focused on the life of the mind. Things like depression. Opioid, the epidemic. Alkermes is working that space. That's why I said the world really needs this stock right now.

A year ago, the stock was at $56.89. At the close of the day this podcast published, happy to say it's up to $67, now. That's an 18% gain. So, against the market's 16%, that's a plus-2% for ticker symbol ALKS.

A stock the world really needs right now, No. 2, was FactSet Data Systems. FactSet in a world where there are a lot of questions about facts, and what's factual, and what's not. And talk about fake news, which was a recurring theme in this list of five companies. I really favor a company like FactSet Data Systems which puts the facts on the table for lots of companies.

You know, it's a lot easier when things are quantifiable. When you can put numbers to see what's fake and what's not. The things that are less quantifiable. The things that are based on words or suppositions -- that's a lot more possible to fake. But fortunately, ticker symbol FDS working within the numerical field bringing facts to the world every day.

The stock was at $179.82. Today it is tipping the scales right at about $201. So, not a bad year for FDS. Up 12% but unfortunately 4% behind the stock market over the course of that time, so of my five picks, here, this is the only loser to foreshadow where we're headed. Minus 4%.

The stock the world really needs right now No. 3. In alphabetical order the ticker symbol is GOOG. The company is, of course, Alphabet. Now Alphabet a year ago was at $818.98. Really happy to say it's just short of $1,100 as we tape here this week of February 2018. A year later it's up 34%, more than doubling the market's 16% gain. So, a nice plus-18% in the win column for Alphabet.

Alphabet, of course, the crown gem of Alphabet is Google. I like businesses where you can use them to find out the truth. Now, I realize Google sometimes gets blamed, because if somebody writes fake news out there and you use Google to find it, they might be getting paid for the advertising behind that, but that is a real minority of most of what Google does on a daily basis worldwide.

Google, as I said a year ago, its moonshots benefit humanity. This is a company, Alphabet, that is doing lots more than just Google, and I think it's a great company. In particular, I think it's probably the most innovative company of our time and innovation is something I think the world will always need right now. So, really happy to see that performance by one of the most widely held companies in all Fooldom.

Stock No. 4 that the world really needs right now, I said a year ago, was The New York Times Company. Especially its digital offering becoming more and more popular. Sometimes getting some criticism from people in the presidential administration which arguably has worked to The New York Times' benefit.

What I favor about The New York Times is that whatever you think of its politics or its brand -- and I respect it, even though I don't find myself always agreeing with it -- I like the efforts that they make to fact check, and "all the news that's fit to print." Again, while I may not agree with all of it, I respect the process by which The New York Times goes through and does what it does every day, increasingly digitally.

That's why I'm happy to say this stock, which was at $15.95 a year ago when we did the podcast is today at $25. Of the five companies, this is the No. 1 performer. NYT is the ticker symbol. Up 57% over the last year. So that's a plus-41% in the win column. I'll total all these up right at the end.

And finally, stock No. 5 that the world really needs right now. Sarah mentioned it briefly at the end of her presentation, and that would be Tesla. The ticker symbol is TSLA. The stock was at $279.76 a year ago, as we closed out the podcast, and today it's up from $280 or so to $335. That's a gain of 20%.

Now, of course, Tesla has made itself something that the world needs, not just through the production of its beautiful Model S cars, or the Model X, or the Model 3s that are increasingly starting to show up, but also has distinguished itself with SolarCity and, in particular, the Gigafactory as the company that dropped the name Motors from its name a year or two ago. Now it's Tesla, and it represents a wonderful, progressive thinking about where the world's headed using technology to better our lives. I think Tesla, indeed, has proven itself as a company that the world really needs right now.

All right, so some numbers here at the end. We've been scoring. This has been a gamified podcast throughout. I forgot to mention. At the end of those six terms if you listened, and are still listening to this podcast at the end of that, give yourself 37 points on top of what you were already scoring just for sticking with us all the way through.

And then my producer, Rick Engdahl, has suggested one additional scoring innovation, and that is if you bought any of these five stocks reacting to last year's five stocks the world really needs right now podcast, go ahead and give yourself... Rick's calling it the Golden Snitch. Go ahead and give yourself 150 points. So, tot up your scores and let us know how you scored on this week's podcast.

Now to close, those five stocks that we just reviewed. Again, each of them being compared to the market. The market was up 16%. These stocks were up 61% when you net their alpha together. What that really means is that each of them average outperforming the stock market by 12%. So not a bad first year. This group averaging a 28% gain against the S&P 500 16%.

Maybe I will humble brag. I'm not sure that I've ever once yet -- this is really lucky -- underperformed with any of my five-stock samplers in the two and a half years of this podcast. So, really glad to see this list of five once again beating the market and inspiring you and me to save more money and darn it, get it invested in stocks the world really needs right now.

After all, as I've often said, make your portfolio reflect your best vision for our future. And that's what you're doing, I hope, when you invest in companies like these, or whatever you think are the stocks the world really needs right now.

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. David Gardner owns shares of Alkermes, Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), and Tesla. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alkermes, Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), FactSet Research Systems, and Tesla. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.