We embrace the idea that our publications — whether they're articles on our Fool.com.au public website or part of one of our subscription-based services — should not be constrained by having to parrot a single "company line".
We glory in the practice of letting our writers and our analysts put forward views that don't agree with each other, or with the "official" recommendations of our subscription-based advisory services, because we believe that leads investors to consider multiple sides to the investing argument. And when they do that, they usually make better, more informed decisions.
If you see two articles on Fool.com.au with opposing views by different writers, now you know why. (If you see two articles with opposing views from the same writer, let us know and we'll have a quiet chat to both their 'personalities'.)
Each Motley Fool Service Is Independent
A common question we get runs along these lines:
"I thought you said <such-and-such a company> was a buy. How come you said that it was a sell <over there>?"
"Over there" may be referring to an article on our free site Fool.com.au, or it might be a contrary viewpoint in another one of our subscription-based services.
There's a straightforward answer:
Each of our subscription-based advisory services provides its own independent view of any given investment.
The most recent view — that service's official position — can be found on the relevant company's summary page within each service.
Anything else is someone's individual personal opinion – especially articles on our public, free site.
If there's a change to a service's official position, the service concerned will announce it in a regular update or issue or a special email.
However, one service's official position does not prevent another service from disagreeing and putting forward other arguments regarding the company. The Motley Fool, as a company, has long encouraged all Fools — whether customers or employees — to think independently and to express their views in messages on our forums, and in articles our public website.
As a consequence of this we allow all of our subscription-based services — e.g. Share Advisor, Hidden Gems, Dividend Investor and Pro — to operate independently of each other and, potentially, to arrive at opposing views. So, if you are subscribed to one or more of our services and you see a Motley Fool article or viewpoint that runs counter to what your subscription service tells you, that's why.
We encourage this free and independent thinking because it is our firm belief that it serves every investor's best interest to encounter and consider opposing viewpoints. Only by considering both sides of an argument — bull and bear, for instance — can someone come to a properly informed decision about whether to buy or perhaps sell, shares in a particular company.
That's the reality of the stock market — at any one time some people will be buyers of a given company, whereas others will be sellers — and we think it's very important to reflect that.
We do recognise that this benefit comes with a drawback — namely, that some people (particularly if they're new to The Motley Fool) may be initially confused or perplexed that there's no one single official Motley Fool company position (or 'house view') for a given company.
We're obviously sorry if people get confused, at least to start with, but we really hope they'll understand why we do things this way, and we believe they'll benefit from that in the long run.
So, let's take an example. Writer Michael Dundee kicked off 2015 with an article outlining some reasons why he might sell his shares in Outback Knives and Crocodile Skin (ASX:COOEE) in 2015. By direct contrast, at the beginning of 2015, Outback was an active Buy recommendation of Motley Fool Share Advisor.
Is Michael Dundee's viewpoint the official Share Advisor viewpoint?
We knew you'd get that right! 😉
Please note that this does not mean that what Michael Dundee wrote is invalid or should not be considered. Whether or not any given investor wishes to consider it is up to them, of course, but we are pleased and proud to provide the opportunity for anyone to think harder or to re-think their position on any companies mentioned — or to discuss it in our subscription services' forums.
Yes, this can be initially confusing to newcomers who are used to other organisations (big city brokers, analysts, etc.) who assert and toe a "party line" on any given company. For that again we apologise, but we hope you understand why we've decided to do things this way.