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Stock recommendation services are popular shortcuts that help millions of investors make educated decisions without having to spend hours of time doing research.

But just like, say, a driving shortcut, the quality of stock recommendations can vary widely—and who you’re willing to listen to largely boils down to track record and trust.

If you knew someone had a bad sense of direction, you wouldn’t heed their advice on getting to the store, and all you’d be risking there is a few extra minutes of your time. So you certainly shouldn’t entrust your entire retirement to services that can’t recommend their way out of a paper bag.

The natural question, then, is “Which services are worth a shot?”

Today, we’re going to explore some of the best (and best-known) stock recommendation services. Our goal today is highlighting not just quality, but variety—after all, some investors might be looking for stock tips and nothing else, while other investors want to receive recommendations but also use tools to find their own opportunities.

Should You Use Expert Stock Picks?


stock pick investing smartphone app

Signing up to receive expert stock picks can be a worthwhile use of your money, as long as you know what you’re getting into.

I’ve worked in the financial publishing space, in one role or another, for more than a decade now. And I can tell you from my experiences studying the competitive landscape: Stock recommendation services in general have an image problem—for pretty good reason.

At their low points, marketing for stock-picking newsletters and services blurs the line between reality and fiction. Promises of impossible short-term gains and/or vanishingly thin risks. Cherry-picked returns to cover up long-term underperformance. Customers, thankfully, are smart enough not to put up with it for long—poor products rack up hours of angry calls and sky-high cancellation rates.

Still, even a few mere months with a poor stock picking service can severely dent your nest egg. So, if you can, it’s better to avoid the hucksters outright and home in on services that have already proven their worth over time.

Who Should Use Stock Picking Services?

In short: Stock recommendation services are ideal for people who want to invest in individual stocks but might not have the time to do all of the requisite research themselves.

If I’m being honest, the high-percentage play for most people is to buy a few index funds and keep buying until you retire. They’re cheap. They’re diversified. And more often than not, they beat professional stock pickers.

But owning individual stocks has some merit, too.

For one, if you want to outperform the market, individual stocks give you the best shot at doing it. You could try to beat the S&P 500 by investing in a different index, but ultimately, any index is just a group of stocks—where the best performers are weighed down by the returns of the worst performers. But if, against the odds, you make the right pick, you’ll generate far better returns by holding a much larger position in that stock than you could by owning a smaller percentage through mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Also, individual stocks keep people mentally invested. I’ve written about ETFs for 12 years now, and while I love them, I know they’re boring. They do their job, nothing more, nothing less. But individual stocks are tied to individual companies, and companies excite people. Think about how many stories you’ve read about companies like Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), and Tesla (TSLA) because of the exciting products they produce.

Heck, even boring companies can whip up people’s heart rates—I can’t tell you how many emails I fielded back at InvestorPlace from people who just wanted to vent about their hatred for General Electric (GE).

Point is: Even if your portfolio is mostly diversified funds, owning a few individual stocks might keep you more interested in investing. And if that gets you to pile more money into your IRA or brokerage account, that’s a win.

Stock Recommendation Services—Our Top Picks


Best Service for Buy-and-Hold Investors
Best Service for Stock Picks + Data Services
Best Service for Growth Stock Picks
Best Data-Driven Stock Picking Service
4.7
4.8
4.5
4.3
$89/yr.*
7-day free trial. Premium: $189/yr.*
$99/yr.*
10% discount: $449/yr.*
Best Service for Buy-and-Hold Investors
Best Service for Stock Picks + Data Services
4.8
7-day free trial. Premium: $189/yr.*
Best Service for Growth Stock Picks
Best Data-Driven Stock Picking Service

Best Stock Recommendation Services


Now, let’s do a service-by-service look at some of the best values in stock-picking subscriptions:

1. Motley Fool Stock Advisor (Best Buy-and-Hold Stock Recommendations)


motley fool stock advisor signup no price

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Best for: Investors who want long-term stock picks

The Motley Fool’s signature product, Stock Advisor, aims to provide you with one thing: top picks for market-beating stocks from their expert team of analysts.

Of the two featured services offered by The Motley Fool (the other is Rule Breakers, which we’ll get to in a moment), Stock Advisor is my pick of the bunch if you want consistent performance with less volatility. And it espouses my favorite, plain-vanilla trading style: buy-and-hold.

The investment newsletter and service sends recommendations for “Steady Eddies” and potential high-flying stocks the service believes provide financially sound fundamentals.

Preferring to stick with companies that outperform steadily over time, Stock Advisor offers stock picks with investment rationales, research, and information to educate you about your investments.

How has Motley Fool Stock Advisor performed?

Stock Advisor stock picks have performed exceptionally well over the service’s 22-year existence. The service has made 175 stock recommendations that have historically delivered 100%+ returns, multiplying members’ net worth several times over.

Overall, the Motley Fool Stock Advisor stock subscription service has returned 671% through April 8, 2024, since its inception in February 2002. This number is calculated by averaging the return of all stock recommendations it has made over the past 22 years. Comparatively, the S&P 500 Index has returned 152% over that same time frame.

stock advisor vs sp500 apr 8 2024
Motley Fool

What to expect from Motley Fool Stock Advisor

The Motley Fool Stock Advisor service provides a lot of worthwhile resources to subscribers.

  1. “Starter Stocks” recommendations to serve as a foundation to your portfolio, whether you’re a new investor or experienced
  2. Two new stock picks each month
  3. 10 “Best Buys Now” chosen from more than 300 stocks the service watches
  4. Investing resources with the stock picking service’s library of stock recommendations
  5. Access to community of investors engaged in outperforming the market and talking shop

The service charges a discounted rate for the first year and has a 30-day membership-fee-back guarantee. Consider signing up for Stock Advisor today, or read more in our Motley Fool Stock Advisor review.

Related: How to Get Free Stocks for Signing Up: 15 Apps w/Free Shares

2. Seeking Alpha Premium (Best for Stock Recommendations + Data Services)


Seeking Alpha Premium Pro

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Best for: Investors who want picks and data

Seeking Alpha Premium caters to intermediate and advanced investors looking for an affordable, all-inclusive, one-stop shop for their investing needs.

The free Seeking Alpha site itself has more than 16,000 active contributors sharing stock analysis. In-house editors vet these pieces before they’re read and discussed by millions of people. Reading different opinions about the same stock helps investors develop their own informed opinions on the likelihood a stock will rise or fall. (I recommend this approach when learning how to research stocks.)

SA also offers stock research tools, real-time news updates, crowdsourced debates, and market data. Users can create their own portfolio of favorite stocks, see how they perform, and receive email alerts or push notifications about their investments.

However, while the basic SA website has a significant amount of information, several more powerful features remain reserved for the Premium Plan and Pro Plan members.

Seeking Alpha Premium

With a Seeking Alpha Premium subscription, you will enjoy unparalleled access with an ad-lite user experience.

SA Premium is an all-in-one investing research and recommendation service that offers insightful analysis, financial news, stock research, and more—all designed to help you make better investing decisions.

Seeking Alpha Premium can help you manage your stock portfolio by putting you in touch with a large investing community—one that can help you research stocks and understand the financial world and provide you with ideas for your next great investment.

Premium plan members can see the ratings of authors whose articles they read. (After all, it’s useful to know whether you’re reading the opinion of someone with a top record, or someone who’s whiffing a lot.) And Premium subscribers unlock analyses from SA-designated “experts.”

Among the other benefits:

  • A stock screener that lets you filter by average analyst rating
  • Earnings conference call transcripts
  • 10 years’ worth of financial statements
  • Ability to compare stocks side-by-side with peers
  • Access to dividend and earnings forecasts

How has Seeking Alpha Premium performed?

SA’s Premium subscription provides full access to the service’s Stock Quant Ratings. These are collections of the best (to the worst)-rated stocks according to three independent investment resources provided on Seeking Alpha’s website. These cross checks and validations come from: (1) the Seeking Alpha Quant Model, (2) independent SA contributors, and (3) Wall Street analysts. The list of best stock recommendations gets further vetted by quantitative and fundamental analysis.

Look at the dramatic market outperformance seen by these quant-fueled “Strong Buy” stock picks as compared to the S&P 500 (total return with dividends reinvested):

seeking alpha premium pro quant performance jan2024
Seeking Alpha

Check out our Seeking Alpha Premium review to learn even more.

Seeking Alpha Pro

A Seeking Alpha Pro subscription includes all of the features offered by Seeking Alpha Premium, then packs on additional services, such as:

  • The Top Ideas recommendation list
  • Exclusive newsletter subscriptions and interviews
  • VIP Editorial Concierge
  • Seeking Alpha Pro stock screener for investing ideas
  • A completely ad-free experience

In short: The Pro tier, which is geared toward professional investors, is more expensive than the Premium tier—but it comes with more goodies.

Why subscribe to Seeking Alpha?

Seeking Alpha distills relevant financial information for you so you don’t have to—making it easy for anyone interested in self-directed investing to have a chance at outperforming the market.

Consider starting a subscription to take advantage of SA’s Premium services and see if they make sense for your needs.

Related: Best Seeking Alpha Alternatives [Competitors’ Sites to Consider]

3. Motley Fool Rule Breakers (Best Service for Growth Stock Picks)


motley fool rule breakers sign up 1

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Best for: Investors who want growth-stock picks

Motley Fool Rule Breakers focuses on stocks that have massive growth potential in emerging industries. This service isn’t fixating on what’s currently popular, but rather always looking for the next big stock.

The service has six rules they follow before making stock recommendations to subscribers:

  1. Only invest in “top dog” companies in an emerging industry – As Motley Fool puts it: “It doesn’t matter if you’re the big player in floppy drives—the industry is falling apart.”
  2. The company must have a sustainable advantage
  3. Company must have strong past price appreciation
  4. Company needs to have strong and competent management
  5. There must be strong consumer appeal
  6. Financial media must overvalue the company

In short, the service mainly looks for well-run companies in emerging industries with a sustainable advantage over competitors, among other factors.

And their rules seem to pay off, if their results are any indication.

Over the past 19 years, Rule Breakers has almost doubled the S&P 500, beating many leading money managers on Wall Street through Dec. 7, 2023. Their results speak for themselves.

rule breakers vs sp500 dec 7 2023
Motley Fool

What to expect from Motley Fool’s Rule Breakers:

When you sign up, you can expect to receive three primary items:

  1. A listing of Starter Stocks to begin your Rule Breakers journey with their “essential Rule Breakers”
  2. 5 “Best Buys Now” opportunities each month
  3. Two new stock picks each month

You’ll receive regular communications from the stock picking service with their analysis and rationales for buying stocks meeting their investment criteria.

If you’re unhappy with the service within the first 30 days, you can receive a full refund.

Read more in our Motley Fool Rule Breakers review.

Related: Motley Fool’s Rule Breakers vs. Stock Advisor

4. Seeking Alpha’s Alpha Picks (Best Data-Driven Stock Recommendation Service)


alpha picks signup 640 2024
Seeking Alpha
  • Available: Sign up here
  • Best for: Investors who want medium-term stock picks

Seeking Alpha’s Alpha Picks is a stock selection service that provides you with two of the best stock picks each month that SA determines have the greatest chance for price upside. They base their selections on fundamentals such as valuation, growth, profitability, and momentum—not hype.

The stock selection process relies on Seeking Alpha’s proprietary, data-driven computer scoring system to screen and recommend stocks for more conservative “buy-and-hold” investors.

And if results from their backtest (run from 2010 to 2022) are any indication, historical simulations of the methodology behind their strategy prove it has worked: Alpha Picks’ recommendations outperformed the S&P 500 Index by 180 percentage points (+470% for SA vs. +290% for the S&P 500).

A bit more detail about how this works: Alpha Picks relies on the existing Seeking Alpha Quant model available to Seeking Alpha Premium and Pro users, but with a bit of modification. Namely, all recommendations must meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a Strong Buy Quant rating for a minimum of 75 days
  • Market cap greater than $500 million
  • Stock price greater than $10
  • Is a publicly traded common stock (no American Depository Receipts [ADRs])
  • Be the highest-rated stock at the time of selection that has not been previously recommended within the past year (Alpha Picks releases one pick at the start of the month, another in the middle)

If you sign up for the service, you can expect the following:

  • Two long-term stock picks to buy and hold for at least two years, delivered every month
  • Detailed explanations from Seeking Alpha behind why they rate each stock pick so highly
  • Notifications when a recommendation changes
  • Regular updates on current Buy recommendations

The service, designed for busy professionals interested in building a portfolio that outpaces the market but without the time to commit to finding these opportunities, is worth considering. If you’re interested, you can sign up for a discounted first-year price of $449.

Related: 19 Best Investment Apps and Platforms [Free + Paid]

5. Motley Fool Everlasting Stocks


motley fool everlasting stocks signup

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Best for: Investors who want picks and data

Launched in 2018, Everlasting Stocks includes stock recommendations pulled from existing Everlasting services offered by Motley Fool. Stocks recommended by the service follow Tom Gardner’s Everlasting philosophy of seeking outperformance by finding companies with an edge—be it a superior company culture, unflappable pricing power, or founders and/or C-suite members who are a step ahead of the average executive.

When you sign up, you receive immediate access to 15 starter stocks. Previous Motley Fool Everlasting Stocks picks include big names such as Shopify and Tesla. From then on, Tom Gardner and his team of analysts recommend two stocks per month—typically falling on the conservative side of the investing spectrum, and intended for those wanting to hold for at least five years (if not much, much longer).

The service also includes:

  • Sell notices if and when the analyst team decides it’s time to take profits
  • Email updates on Everlasting Stocks’ picks
  • Monthly rankings
  • Access to a model portfolio allocation tool that will help you determine the optimal way to allocate your account funds.

Learn more or sign up for Everlasting Stocks today.

Save on Motley Fool with the Epic Bundle

You can also sign up for all three Motley Fool products mentioned here, as well as real estate stock service Millionacres, for a considerable discount through the company’s Epic Bundle. We have an entire Motley Fool Epic Bundle review where you can learn more.

Best Introductory Stock Newsletter
Growth Stock Recommendations
4-in-1 Bundle of Fool Savings
4.7
4.5
4.7
$89/yr.*
$99/yr.*
$300/yr. (22% savings vs. individually subscribing to all four services in first year)*
Best Introductory Stock Newsletter
Growth Stock Recommendations
4-in-1 Bundle of Fool Savings
4.7
$300/yr. (22% savings vs. individually subscribing to all four services in first year)*

Related: 9 Best Day Trading Platforms [Apps + Software]

6. Zacks Investment Research (Stock Picks, Rankings + Data)


zacks premium new

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Best for: Investors who want picks and data

Zacks Investment Research is a subscription-based stock recommendation and data service that you can use to improve your own due diligence or lean on for stock selection.

The investment research site has a free side that provides general market data and information about the financial markets and business news. One of its popular features is the Bull and Bear of the Day, where the service selects two stocks and rates them as a Bull (strong buy) or Bear (strong sell) pick.

However, the Zacks Premium service unlocks access to:

  • Focus List portfolio of long-term stock picks
  • The Zacks #1 Rank List to develop your investment strategies
  • Custom stock screener
  • A Portfolio Tracker that provides constant monitoring of your stocks to help you decide if you should buy, hold, or sell.
  • Equity research reports and more
  • Investors looking for stock recommendations should home in on the Focus List—a tight group of 50 long-term stock picks that Sheraz Mian, Zacks’ Director of Research, has singled out because of their exceptional earnings momentum. And every Monday, Mayur Thaker, a Zacks Stock Strategist, sends out the Weekly Market Analysis email detailing why stocks have been added or pulled from the Focus List.

If you want even more firepower, Zacks Investor Collection provides access to Zacks Premium and other services, including ETF Investor and Stocks Under $10. You can try the service for 30 days for just $1. After that, it’s $59/mo. or discounted to $495/yr. if paid upfront.

Investors who desire even more information can get Zacks Ultimate. This plan provides even more exclusive services, including Black Box Trader, Blockchain Innovators, Marijuana Innovators, Options Trader, and more. After a $1 30-day trial, Zacks Ultimate costs $299/mo. or $2,995/yr.

Related: Zacks vs Motley Fool: Which Stock Picking Service is Better?

7. AAII Dividend Investing (Best Dividend Stock Recommendation Service)


 

aaii dividend investing new

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Best for: Dividend growth investors

AAII’s Dividend Investing does all the income investment due diligence work for you. With their proprietary stock-screening and picking process, AAII targets stocks that combine yield and asset quality.

The service also analyzes the company’s management team to make sure it is committed to dividend payouts—not just for today, but for tomorrow as well.

AAII Dividend Investing features include:

  • Model portfolio of 24 dividend stocks, hand-picked for traits such as long profit and dividend-growth histories, free cash flow generation, attractive valuations, and more
  • Weekly commentary
  • Monthly portfolio reports
  • Quarterly “ask me anything” events with DI’s lead analyst
  • Access to AAII’s dividend investing grader

You’ll also gain access to other AAII benefits, including weekly stock ideas based on the company’s proprietary screens, a monthly AAII Journal that includes actionable analysis, weekly webinars, and entry into an interactive community where you can learn from experts and peers alike. (And something I think sets AAII apart from a lot of its competition: It releases an annual tax guide that helps you make tax-smart investing decisions.)

If you’re looking for a stock recommendation service with an income tilt, start your full 30-day trial for just $2.

Related: 11 Best Stock Portfolio Tracking Apps [Stock Portfolio Trackers]

How to Pick a Stock That Aligns With Your Investing Goals


stock picking service woman laptop computer

When you start investing, you need to have a little psychological self-check. Think about why you’re investing, and what kind of investor you want to be.

So, ask yourself: Are you investing your money to grow it a little before you buy a car next year, or are you saving for your retirement decades down the road? Does the thought of risk make you want to vomit and stop investing entirely, or are you OK with knowing that you could face big ups and downs. Answers to questions like these will help determine what kinds of stocks you’ll be most comfortable with.

A few big, broad categories of stocks you’ll need to know:

Growth Stocks

Growth stocks are companies that are expanding their profits and sales at a steady clip. Typically, growth stocks are firms that have either an attractive product they are bringing to new markets or a steady drumbeat of new items they can sell to existing customers to open up new revenue streams. Technology companies are typically the most common example of growth stocks, as they bring new gadgets to market that are better or faster than previous products.

Growth stocks are best suited for investors who want high capital appreciation (stock gains) and are OK with some risk.

Value Stocks

Value stocks, on the other hand, are companies that might not be expanding rapidly but have a strong underlying business. Think of a local bank or a utility company that might have trouble doubling in size over the next few years, but doesn’t face a lot of competition or disruption to its business model. These kinds of companies are often more stable thanks to the underlying value of their businesses.

Value stocks tend to be less volatile than their more growth-oriented counterparts, though their potential for growth is generally smaller.

Dividend Stocks

Dividend stocks (which commonly are value stocks, but can be growth stocks) are a great way to drive high long-term performance. These companies pay a regular flow of their profits directly back to shareholders, meaning you receive some sort of return regardless of the ebb and flow of share prices.

Over a long period of time, that one-two punch of dividends and capital appreciation is a powerful builder of wealth.

Here’s a look at the return someone could expect if they received just the price returns from the S&P 500 over the past 25 years:

S&P 500 return 25 years 082422

Now look at how much better the return is when you factor in dividends (had you had reinvested those dividends back into the S&P 500):

S&P 500 total return 25 years 082422

The price return is about 4.5x. The total return (price plus dividends) is more than 7x!

Market Capitalization

For some investors, size matters, too.

Company size is typically measured by “market capitalization,” which is the number of outstanding shares multiplied by the share price. So, for instance, a company with 1 billion shares worth $10 each would be worth $10 billion. And, broadly speaking, companies of certain sizes have certain characteristics:

  • Small-cap stocks ($2 billion or less): Small companies tend to either be very young, or if they’ve been around for a while, serve very niche markets. A small-cap stock might derive most if not all of its revenue from just one product or service, meaning any disruption to that offering can materially affect the business. Because of that risk, these companies can struggle to get financial backing when it’s needed—and if they succeed, it could be expensive to pay off. This all makes smaller stocks riskier and more volatile. The tradeoff? High growth potential. The company’s offerings typically haven’t reached full saturation, and they have the potential to bring many more products and services to life.
  • Large-cap stocks ($10 billion or more): Large companies tend to be more established, mature companies with multiple revenue streams—thus, if one of their products or services sees weak demand, they might struggle, but other products and services should keep them afloat. Bigger companies typically have better and cheaper access to capital (say, taking out a loan or issuing bonds). As a result, their stock prices are more stable. However, large-cap stocks also have less growth potential. As the saying goes: “It’s easier to double from $1 million in sales than it is to double from $1 billion.” And it’s true.
  • Mid-cap stocks ($2 billion-$10 billion): Like with Goldilocks and the three bears, the middle is just right for many investors. Mid-cap stocks typically enjoy characteristics of their larger and smaller cousins. They have more growth potential than larger companies, but less risk and better access to capital than small-cap stocks. Just consider this nugget from Hennessy Funds (emphasis ours):
    “In any given 1-year rolling period since 2000, small-, mid-, and large-cap stocks have outperformed 33%, 31%, and 36% of the time. However, the longer mid-cap stocks are held, the more often they outperformed. In fact, 64% of the time, mid-caps outperformed small- and large-cap stocks over any 10-year rolling period in the past 20 years.

Do Stock Recommendations Include Advice to Buy and Sell Stocks?


Yes, indeed, they do. Stock picking services typically don’t just tell you when to buy stocks—they tell you when to sell them, too.

You’d expect this from short-term trading services, where the goal is to lock in gains after a few months, weeks, or even days. But even long-term stock recommendation services discuss not just when to buy, but when to sell. That’s because even great companies—those you might plan on holding for decades—can take material turns for the worse, and blindly holding on to them will cripple your returns.

Do Stock Recommendation Services Only Suggest Publicly Traded Companies?


Largely speaking, yes. Stock-picking services, as the name suggests, specialize in stocks—and by and large, most people can only buy and sell publicly traded stocks.

Some alternative investment platforms will help investors pick out privately held assets, but those aren’t stock recommendation services.

Kyle Woodley is the Editor-in-Chief of WealthUp. His 20-year journalistic career has included more than a decade in financial media, where he previously has served as the Senior Investing Editor of Kiplinger.com and the Managing Editor of InvestorPlace.com.

Kyle Woodley oversees WealthUp’s investing coverage, including stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, real estate, alternatives, and other investments. He also writes the weekly Weekend Tea newsletter.

Kyle spent five years as the Senior Investing Editor at Kiplinger, and six years at InvestorPlace.com, including two as Managing Editor. His work has appeared in several outlets, including Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, the Nasdaq, Barchart, The Globe and Mail, and U.S. News & World Report. He also has made guest appearances on Fox Business and Money Radio, among other shows and podcasts, and he has been quoted in several outlets, including MarketWatch, Vice, and Univision.

He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism … but he doesn’t necessarily care whether you use the “The.”

Check out what he thinks about the stock market, sports, and everything else at @KyleWoodley.