Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More Motley Foolishness

Just to pound the stake in a bit deeper, here's another reminder that, if you're getting you stock-picking advice from Motley Fool, you really need to stick with index funds. MF specializes in overexcited, often under-informed posts usually focusing on hot topics that have strong emotional associations of success or (more rarely) failure. All of which is designed to get readers anxious and eager enough to shell out $199 a piece for various newsletters.

Recent case in point, comic book movies are big now as is AMC and the TV show (and comic book adaptation)  the Walking Dead. Both very much have that  strong emotional association of success so it's not surprising that MF would do a story on comic book publisher Image:
Just as AMC Networks (NASDAQ: AMCX  ) profited when Matthew Weiner and Vince Gilligan brought the network Mad Men and Breaking Bad, Image today has several of the comics industry's big names making strong books such as The Walking Dead, Saga, and Thief of Thieves, among others, many of which have cross-media potential.

Should Disney or Warner make a bid for Image? Would you? Or, alternatively, would you invest in Image were it a public company? Leave a comment to let us know what you think of the indie comics opportunity and what, if any, indie series you're reading right now.
You'll notice I keep talking about "associations of success." Mad Men is a perfect example. As mentioned before, Mad Men appears to have lost AMC a significant amount of money, enough to force them to make risky budget cuts to their hit, Walking Dead. You could argue that when PR and reputational capital are figured in, the Mad Men deal was worth it, but from an objective standpoint it's difficult to argue that it was much more that a break even deal for AMC. From an emotional standpoint, however, Mad Men certainly has the association of success, what Colbert might call 'successiness.' It's the coolest of TV's cool kids, by some standards the most lauded basic cable show ever.

While the first paragraph drives home the role these emotional associations play in MF posts, the second illustrates just how uninformed these posts can be. Normally, when a big player buys a publisher, the primary asset being acquired is the catalog. In this case, it's not entirely clear what Disney or Warner would be buying:
Image's organizing charter had two key provisions:
Image would not own any creator's work; the creator would.
No Image partner would interfere – creatively or financially – with any other partner's work. Image itself would own no intellectual property except the company trademarks: its name and its logo, which was designed by writer Hank Kanalz.
I've been reading quite a few MF posts recently and I see red flags frequently, indications that the writers are leaving out important details either because those details undercut the narrative or because the writers don't know what they're talking about. Either way, given the difficultly and risks of playing the market, is this a source of advice you'd want to bet the farm on (perhaps literally)?

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