Stansberry Research, a well-known publisher of financial information, has been the topic of much online conversation lately from people calling into question the firm’s legitimacy. Those questions have raised concerns over whether or not the company indeed provides actionable and high-quality investment recommendations, as it claims, or whether it is a scam. Since readers have posed the question to us, we decided to take a deep dive into the topic ourselves to determine the quality of the publisher’s content. Read on if you’ve found yourself wondering about similar points of concern.
History of the Company
First of all, let’s take a look at the origins of the company to see how it came to be. The publisher was founded in 1999 by Porter Stansberry, who has quite a positive reputation in the field of financial analysis. A big part of this reputation was built upon his status as the first American editor of the Fleet Street Letter. That periodical, which was founded in the 1930s, carries the distinction of being the world’s oldest English-language financial newsletter. The Fleet Street Letter, among other claims to fame, was one of the first mainstream publications to correctly predict the onset of World War II, a feat at a time when denial about the upcoming war was widespread.
That notoriety for making bold predictions that end up being true has also become a hallmark of Porter Stansberry himself. One example of this was his accurate prediction of the credit crisis, again amid the denial of others. That prediction, of course, would come to be spot on, so much so that Barron’s characterized it as “remarkably prescient” and said that“nothing, as far as [it could] see, [had] happened to contradict his dire prophecy.” The companies founder has brought that penchant for bold predictions to his work with Stansberry Research, which seems to have triggered many of the apprehensions that have dogged the publisher. That, however, begs the question: if a bold prediction turns out to be true, was it really that bold to begin with?
It’s clear that the founder has a reputation for accuracy and legitimate claims, but how does that filter down to the company itself? The publisher employs a large team of editors and analysts –almost 30. This team publishes a vast number of newsletters and other periodicals covering topics relevant to investment and financial markets, with many of the newsletters overlapping into some similar topics. When this overlap occurs, the individual interpretations of the editors come to light and, sometimes, these interpretations end up being different.
These differences of opinion seem to be another area in which critics have cast doubts on the information provided by the company. While these concerns are understandable, it seems that they actually arise from a fundamental misunderstanding of the company’s philosophy. Rather than coming to one interpretation of a matter and requiring all of its periodicals to follow it dogmatically, the publisher encourages differences among editors, calling it its “mosaic of opinions.” That strategy offers both the opinions and the reasoning behind those opinions so that readers can determine what makes the most sense for their own portfolio sensibilities. This is a pretty smart way to go about things and seems to offer more value to readers than other methods.
One thing that might give readers pause here is a simple and valid question: if the publisher is offering many different opinions, aren’t some of them always going to be right? That’s a fair point, one that has probably spawned a degree of criticism aimed at the publisher. That criticism, however, is also a bit misguided. It’s true that if a company was just publishing every opinion available on a particular subject without accountability, those opinions wouldn’t be worth much. Stansberry Research, however, has anticipated this potential snag and institutes a smart policy to allow readers to fully trust the information that the company releases.
That policy centers around the company’s firm belief that all investment advisors are dutybound to account for the outcome of their advice. What that means, when you really think about it, is that if an investment advisor isn’t telling you about their misses along with their hits, then their recommendations should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. To avoid such a situation, the publisher makes sure to publicly evaluate all of its invest recommendations each year. Furthermore, its investment newsletters include a track record with each issue to allow readers to easily see how accurate its recommendations have been.
At the end of the day, though the above information definitely reflects well on the company, the ultimate yardstick to measure any financial publisher is how much it is willing to stand by its product. Here again, we find an encouraging policy from the Stansberry Research. If a subscriber is unsatisfied for any reason with the publisher’s content, they can contact the company for a full refund within the first 30 days of their subscription. That alone speaks volumes about the company, indicating that it’s confident that those who try out its services will want to stick with it.
Ultimately, it seems that such confidence is wellfounded. The publisher boasts over 500,000 subscribers worldwide. Its lifetime subscriber count is currently at more than 70,000. Those numbers are pretty staggering in their own right and show the satisfaction level that subscribers have with the information being provided by the company and its team of established editors and analysts.
All of that brings us back to our original question: is Stansberry Research a scam, or is it a legitimate provider of financial information? After checking out the points above, it seems pretty clear that the company is, in fact, legitimate. While it has received criticism in the past, upon closer inspection, it seems that much of that criticism originates from people who haven’t taken the time to fully look into the publisher’s policies and services. With its commitment to data-driven opinions coming from a variety of informed sources, it seems that the publisher, far from being a scam, is providing subscribers with some of the highest quality financial information available today.
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