If you read enough financial media, you’ll come across articles talking about stocks that have the potential to be “the next Tesla” or “the next Shopify.” Stock pickers make the comparison to describe stocks with the potential to produce the outlandish returns generated by the electric-vehicle automaker and the e-commerce titan.
That’s all well and good—but many stock pickers who invoke those names didn’t actually recommend those stocks before they were en vogue. Today, we’re going to evaluate an investing service that did: Motley Fool’s Rule Breakers.
Buying individual stocks can be very lucrative—if you make the correct stock picks. But it’s not easy to learn the ins and outs of stock analysis, and few people have the time to learn enough to be truly successful stock pickers.
To help bridge this knowledge gap, many people rely on stock recommendation services. These typically subscription-based services feature one or more stock analysts who provide “buy lists” of stock picks they suggest readers go out and purchase.
One such outlet is The Motley Fool—a reputable stock picking outlet that for decades has built a library of dozens of investing products, many with a history of outperforming the stock market—in many cases, by a considerable margin. Among those products is Rule Breakers, a core Fool offering that serves growth-minded investors.
Today, I’m going to tell you all you need to know about Motley Fool’s Rule Breakers. I’ll look at what the service provides, its strengths and weaknesses, pricing, and more. And I’ll even discuss a few alternative stock picking services for investors who might not necessarily jell with Rule Breakers’ investment strategy.
My goal, in writing this Motley Fool Rule Breakers review, is to help you determine whether the service is a right fit for you—and if not, what stock picking service fits your personal preferences and objectives.
Motley Fool Rule Breakers Overview
Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommends stocks that the Rule Breakers team believes have massive growth potential. In some cases, these companies are at the forefront of emerging industries—in others, they’re disrupting the status quo in long-established industries.
This stock subscription service doesn’t fixate on what’s currently popular, but instead always looks for the next big stock ahead. That means these Motley Fool picks have the potential to be nauseatingly volatile … but also the potential to rocket higher exponentially.
For example, Rule Breakers delivered several stock picks that tapped the power of e-commerce long before many other outlets did. Nowadays, Rule Breakers’ emerging industries of focus include the likes of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.
Unsurprisingly, Rule Breakers’ picks favor high-growth stocks over dividend stocks.
Importantly, Rule Breakers does the research and analysis legwork for investors, making it easy for you to make any necessary adjustments to your portfolio in just a few minutes per month.
Motley Fool Rule Breakers Selection Criteria
The Motley Fool Rule Breakers portfolio follows more than 200 companies and has six rules its team follows before making stock recommendations to subscribers:
- 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.”
- The company must have a sustainable advantage.
- The company must have strong past price appreciation.
- The company needs to have strong and competent management.
- There must be strong consumer appeal.
- Financial media must overvalue the company.
In other words, Rule Breakers’ team considers a number of factors before it ever recommends a stock to its users. In short: If it’s not a well-run company with a sustainable advantage over its competitors, and it’s not in an emerging industry, it probably won’t get past Rule Breakers’ velvet ropes.
And their rules seem to pay off, if their results are any indication.
Motley Fool Rule Breakers Performance
Rule Breakers, since the product’s inception in 2004, has delivered a 230% return through June 8, 2023, more than doubling the S&P 500’s performance since then—and beating many leading money managers on Wall Street. And impressively, 141 of their recommendations have gone on to at least double in value.
Rule Breakers Stock Picks
Let’s look at some of Motley Fool’s best calls—a trio of Rule Breakers picks that have rocketed higher since the service gave its readers the green light:
One e-commerce name that Rule Breakers jumped on top of is Shopify (SHOP), a Canadian outfit that serves as the backbone for millions of businesses worldwide. It allows companies to build online storefronts, but also offers other products such as marketing tools and point-of-sale systems.
Shopify went public in May 2015 at $17 per share, and has since split its stock once—a 10-for-1 split in 2022. Through June 20, 2023, Rule Breakers readers have enjoyed 2,950%-plus gains in SHOP shares since the service recommended them in February 2016.
MercadoLibre (MELI) is a Latin American e-commerce giant with operations in North, Central, and South America. Its various services include the Mercado Libre marketplace that allows people to list and sell items; Mercado Envios shipping solutions; classifieds and advertising; and Mercado Pago payments solutions, which include mobile point-of-sale, digital wallets, prepaid cards, and more.
The company was founded in 1999 and went public in August 2007 at $18 per share. Rule Breakers recommended the stock not too long after, in February 2009. It was one of David Gardner’s original themed “five-stock samplers,” and through June 20, 2023, it has gone up nearly 8,400% since entering the portfolio.
Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla (TSLA) went public on June 29, 2010, at a mere $17 per share—or $1.13 per share once you account for its 5-for-1 and 3-for-1 stock splits of the past few years. Today, it trades for several hundred dollars per share, and has made many investors a boatload of money.
There are probably at least a few Motley Fool readers in that crowd. Rule Breakers first recommended Tesla on Nov. 23, 2011—a year before the Model S hit the road, and years before the Model 3 or Model X. Since then, shares have produced a return of more than 12,990% as of June 20, 2023!
What to Expect From Rule Breakers
The service includes five primary items you can expect to receive:
- A list of Starter Stocks—including their “essential Rule Breakers”—to begin your investing journey
- Top-10 rankings of timely buys from the entire Rule Breakers portfolio
- Two new stock picks each month
- Investing resources, including the stock picking service’s library of stock recommendations
- Access to a community of investors engaged in outperforming the market and talking shop
How Much Does the Motley Fool Rule Breakers Service Cost?
The Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock picking service offers discounted introductory rates to new users. That discount has varied over time, but typically, it’s substantially lower than what current members paid when they renewed their membership.
Currently, Rule Breakers’ discounted new-member rate is $99 per year. That shifts to $299 annually after the first year.
Also worth noting: All annual Rule Breakers subscriptions come with a 30-day full membership-fee-back guarantee.
What Does Motley Fool Rule Breakers Recommend Members Do With Its Stock Picks?
Motley Fool’s “Foolish” Investing Philosophy educates how Rule Breakers makes stock recommendations to subscribers. It boils down to six rules:
1. Buy 25+ companies recommended by The Motley Fool over time to maintain a diversified portfolio.
“A well-diversified portfolio typically contains 25-30 company stocks,” says The Fool, “with the more stocks you own and the longer you hold them increasing your likelihood of making money.”
Let’s say you have $10,000. If you use all of that to buy shares of just one company, you could make a fortune over time—but if anything disastrous happens to that company, you could lose a giant chunk of that nest egg.
Compare that with spreading $10,000 across, say, 25 stocks. Even if one of those companies goes completely bankrupt and you never sell before the stock goes to zero, the most you could lose is just 4% of your total investment money.
2. Hold these recommended stocks for at least five years (longer is even better).
If you buy stocks with the hope that they’ll double within a few months, you’re gambling, not investing. However, individual stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds may naturally and gradually build wealth over time—and the more time you have in the market, the more compounding could work its magic.
3. Invest new money frequently and regularly.
The Motley Fool’s investment strategy includes the continual investment of new cash. Funding your account with fresh money prevents the need to sell your best stocks just to capture the new opportunities provided by Motley Fool stock picks.
Beginner investors especially should follow this investing style. You start out with little money, so you’re not risking much while you’re still learning. Over time, you’ll gain knowledge—and can put your bigger nest egg to better use.
4. Hold your investments during periods of stock market volatility.
Napoleon Bonaparte defined a military genius as “the [person] who can do the average thing when everyone around [is losing their minds].” But this also best describes successful investors.
When the market melts down, some investors panic-sell at lower prices … then wait in fear and only buy back into the market once most of the recovery has already taken place.
In other words, rather than “buying low and selling high,” they’re doing the opposite—and that practically guarantees inferior returns to what you’d get from just staying put.
I know, I know: This advice is easier given than followed; beginner investors and seasoned pros alike struggle to remain calm during manic downturns. But if you remind yourself you’re in it for the long run, and hold a few defensive positions to tamp down volatility, and you’ll avoid one of the most costly mistakes an investor can make.
5. Let your winners keep winning.
“Winning companies tend to keep winning.” Sure, it’s prudent portfolio management to occasionally lock in a little bit of profit here, and a little bit of profit there. But if you have the impulse to sell a position once, say, it has doubled—just because it has doubled and you don’t want to risk losing any of your gains—think again.
Stocks backed by high-quality companies can keep racking up more returns for you over time. As long as you believe in the underlying investment story, hold tight and let doublers turn into triplers and quadruplers over time.
6. Target long-term returns.
You might have noticed that more than one “Foolish” rule deals with investing with an eye to the far-out future. That’s because calculated long-term investing—not frantic short-term trading—is the safest way retail investors like you and me have to build our wealth.
The Motley Fool says you should “aim to achieve excellent returns over a 5- to 25-year period.” Again, the idea here is to let the powers of compound interest work in your benefit. Thousands of dollars now can turn into literally millions—with enough patience and discipline.
So, when you invest, invest with a timeline of at least five years at a minimum.
Related Motley Fool Review Questions
Is The Motley Fool legit?
In a word: Yes. The Motley Fool is a legitimate business, and Rule Breakers specifically is a successful, long-running newsletter boasting hundreds of thousands of members.
Can you make money subscribing to The Motley Fool’s Rule Breakers service?
In my Stock Advisor review, I discuss my own personal experience making money with a Motley Fool service. While I did not subscribe to Rule Breakers, my review of the service is highly favorable—and in fact, some of Stock Advisor’s stock picks come from Team Rule Breakers.
But Rule Breakers’ track record stands for itself. More than 140 of its recommendations have doubled or better. And its 230% return since the service’s inception in 2004, through June 8, 2023, is far ahead of the S&P 500’s 106% return during the same time frame.
But here’s an important reminder about any investment service—not just The Motley Fool: Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. While I still highly recommend Stock Advisor, no investment is a “sure thing.” When you invest, you are taking on risk, simple as that. But across roughly two decades of existence, Rule Breakers has proven itself a worthy product.
Is The Motley Fool good for beginners?
I can tell you from firsthand experience that The Motley Fool provides excellent advice in an easy-to-understand format. Buy recommendations are straightforward, and the investment theses are simple enough to understand.
I also got a lot of use from the ability to access Motley Fool’s CAPS Community—a stock message board where other Motley Fool users discuss opportunities they’ve unearthed. Not only did one of my top three performers come from the CAPS Community, but reading the various posts there helped accelerate my investment education.
It’s worth noting, though, that Rule Breakers does focus on high-growth stocks that can be volatile in nature. Some beginners could be dissuaded by the up-and-down nature of these stocks. But it’s still appropriate for anyone who’s investing for the long term and can weather a little short-term discomfort.
Related: Best Investments for Beginners
Can you cancel your Motley Fool Rule Breakers subscription?
Virtually any product offering investment advice allows you to cancel your subscription—but you might not get your money back.
In the case of Rule Breakers, Motley Fool also has a 30-day membership-fee-back guarantee. So if you cancel your membership within the first 30 days, you should be eligible for a refund. After that, however, you cannot cancel without forfeiting your annual membership cost.
You have three options for canceling Motley Fool services:
- Phone: Call 877.629.2589 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.
- Email: Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with a cancellation request.
- Website: Log into your Motley Fool account, and navigate to “My Accounts.” From there, select “Cancel Subscription” and follow the prompts.
Does The Motley Fool offer bundled discounts for its most popular products?
It does! The most popular Motley Fool collection of services is the Epic Bundle, which groups four products into one:
Better yet: Epic Bundle’s first-year price tag is a 22% discount compared to subscribing to all four services at first-year rates, and its renewal rate is half of what it would cost to renew all four products at their normal rates.
Related: Best Seeking Alpha Alternatives
Should you rely on a stock picking service to buy stocks?
Ideally, every investor would be able to spend several hours every week educating themselves about the stock market so they could make their own picks. But for some people, that’s simply not a realistic goal.
Ultimately, the kind of person who should use a stock picking service such as Motley Fool’s Rule Breakers should:
- Be interested in holding at least some individual stocks. (People who invest only in funds won’t get anything out of this service.)
- Don’t have time to do stock research and/or would prefer to get picks from expert analysts.
- Can afford the annual rate. Remember: Whatever money you spend on a subscription service is money you’re not investing. So in a way, it’s like a fee charged by a mutual fund or investment advisor. But if you can afford it, and if you’re getting value out of the cost by being pointed toward stocks that are generating market-beating returns, then it’s worth the cost!
Related: Best Stock Analysis Websites
Does Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommending a stock cause a stock to move?
Technically, it’s possible. Motley Fool’s Rule Breakers has a high number of subscribers, so a recommendation can cause a surge of buying demand—enough to move even large-cap stocks, if only by a little bit. But it doesn’t always happen.
Does Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommend exchange-traded funds or mutual funds?
Alternative Stock Picking Services to Motley Fool Rule Breakers
1. Motley Fool Stock Advisor (Best Buy-and-Hold Stock Recommendations)
- Available: Sign up here
- Best for: Investors who want long-term stock picks
Motley Fool’s signature product, Stock Advisor, aims to provide you with one thing: top picks for market-beating stocks from the site’s co-founders.
Of the two most popular services offered by Motley Fool (Rule Breakers is the other), 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.
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?
As a subscriber, you’re granted access to Stock Advisor’s history of recommendations and can see for yourself how the service has performed over the years.
According to their website, the Motley Fool Stock Advisor stock subscription service has returned of 468% since their inception in February 2002 through October 3, 2023 when you calculate the average return of all their stock recommendations over the last 21 years.
Comparatively, the S&P 500 only had a 124% return during that same timeframe.
What to expect from Motley Fool Stock Advisor
The Motley Fool Stock Advisor service provides a lot of worthwhile resources to subscribers.
- “Starter Stocks” recommendations to serve as a foundation to your portfolio, whether you’re a new investor or experienced
- Two new stock picks each month
- 10 “Best Buys Now” chosen from more than 300 stocks the service watches
- Investing resources with the stock picking service’s library of stock recommendations
- 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 refund period. Consider signing up for Stock Advisor today.
2. Seeking Alpha (Best for Stock Recommendations + Data Services)
- 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.
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):
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.
Seeking Alpha’s Alpha Picks (Best Data-Driven Stock Recommendation Service)
- 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 $99.
Zacks Investment Research (Stock Picks and Data)
- 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 per month or discounted to $495 annually 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 per month or $2,995 annually if paid upfront.
5. Millionacres: Real Estate Winners (Best for REIT Stock Picking)
- Available: Sign up here
Motley Fool’s Millionacres: Real Estate Winners focuses on understanding the fast-moving, ever-changing world of real estate investment—and mobilizes you for success with valuable resources, recommendations and picks!
Real estate is a worthwhile investment not just because of its return potential, but also its relatively low volatility compared to stocks. However, because most people can’t afford to go out and buy, say, an apartment building or grocery-anchored retail real estate, they have to get access via publicly traded real estate companies.
Millionacres provides recommendations for real estate investment trusts (REITs) and other real estate-related equities. The service delivers easy-to-understand monthly investment alerts and quarterly investment rankings. And importantly, Millionacres’ analysts make clear-cut cases for their recommendations, drastically cutting down on the investing research you need to do yourself.
What you get with Millionacres: Real Estate Winners
Millionacres: Real Estate Winners is a premium subscription product meant to simplify real estate investing for the average retail investor. You’ll receive clear, actionable investment recommendations along with specific guidance on how to get started in today’s real estate climate.
Among the resources that Millionacres: Real Estate Winners provides to subscribers:
- Fresh monthly stock recommendations
- Regular updates on previous recommendations about quarterly earnings reports and other key events
- A ranked “Top 10 Investment Alerts” every quarter
- Educational content and other resources
That last point is worth noting. This service isn’t necessarily just for veteran investors—people who are new to real estate investment trusts (REITs) can build their knowledge base while putting Millionacres’ stock picks to work.
Lastly, if you subscribe today through us, you can lock in a discounted first-year rate.