Is It Legit or a Scam?


Stansberry Research is an investment research firm founded by Frank Porter Stansberry in 1999. The Baltimore, Maryland, company sells investment advice to more than 1 million subscribers. 

It’s best to buy your stock market research and investment advice from trusted professionals with a strong track record. Unfortunately, Stansberry Research hasn’t earned a spot in that category. 

Past Controversy

In the early 2000s, the company sent emails to subscribers saying they had insider information on a stock that would surely double in value or better. If you wanted to get the name of the stock, you had to pay Stansberry Research $1,000. 

The call, suggesting the U.S. and Russian governments would approve an agreement between USEC and Tenex, was a bad call, and the insider information didn’t exist. Investors lost millions in $1,000 fees on top of their cumulative losses on the trade. 

In 2002, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) got involved and filed a suit against Frank Porter Stansberry. Over the next five years, the SEC and the financial expert battled it out in court. When it all ended in 2007, Stansberry was ordered to pay the SEC $1.5 million for selling false and misleading information to the investing public. Stansberry appealed but the ruling was upheld in the end. 

After exhausting all of his appeals options in the 2007 case, Stansberry produced a video called “The End of America” in 2011. The video shows the extent to which Stansberry and his team are willing to use fear as a way to get people to pay for their stock market research.  

Within the first five minutes of the video, Stansberry says, “as this problem comes to a head, I expect there to be riots in the streets…arrests on an unprecedented scale…and martial law enforced by the U.S. military.” Just seconds after, he makes a surprising claim, “I have no interest in trying to scare you.”

The 77-minute fear-driven infomercial sparked outrage in the investing community. Other investing firms produced videos in response, warning their clients not to be driven by Stansberry’s fear tactics. 

In the end, the market and the economy didn’t collapse in 2011. There were no riots in the street because of food shortages and martial law was never declared. 

I want to be clear here; Stansberry Research isn’t a scam. You get a product for the money you pay. However, based on Stansberry’s history and its nearly constant use of fear to sell a financial product, we believe there are better ways to access research, both on a free and paid level. 

Key Features of Stansberry Research

Stansberry Research offers investment research services. The company has 28 different investment advisory newsletters and four portfolio strategies. Each is sold a la carte, so you only pay for what you use. 

Newsletters for Most Types of Investors

Stansberry Research currently offers 28 different newsletters with at least one for just about every type of investment style. Most of the company’s newsletters lean toward the value investment strategy but there are plenty of others. Some of the newsletters cover topics like dividend investing, options trading, precious metals, growth investing, and alternative investments like cryptocurrency and art. 

Each newsletter comes with stock picks or trade ideas and all the data the research firm used to come up with the investment or trade idea. 

Five of the most popular newsletters on the site are:

  1. True Wealth. True Wealth is a value-centric newsletter that’s primarily focused on stocks. It also commonly advises readers to invest in assets like timber, gold coins, and government tax certificates. 
  2. Retirement Millionaire. Retirement Millionaire is a long-term investment newsletter designed to help beginners, intermediate investors, and retirees build wealth for and maintain wealth through their golden years. 
  3. DailyWealth Trader. The DailyWealth Trader is a daily newsletter that focuses on short-term trading opportunities. 
  4. Extreme Value. This is a monthly newsletter written by Dan Ferris that tells you about between 20 and 25 long-term value investing opportunities. 
  5. Gold Stock Analyst. The Gold Stock Analyst newsletter is a monthly publication with a detailed analysis of gold and 50 gold stocks and royalty companies. Although this is a popular newsletter, it’s built around editor John Doody’s innate distrust for the United States political system, which may skew the end analysis of assets covered. 

A-La-Carte Pricing

Each service from Stansberry Research is sold on an a la carte basis. Most newsletters cost $199 annually. The a la carte pricing makes the service more convenient and less expensive because you only pay for and have access to the services you plan on using. 

Invite-Only Bundle Memberships

Bundle memberships are available if you’re interested in subscribing to several Stansberry Research newsletters at a time and deploying a wide variety of investment strategies in your portfolio.

Although the bundle memberships are said to be “invite only,” anyone can access them. All you need to do is call the company and tell your representative you’re interested in multiple newsletters. The representative on the other end of the line will then extend your “invite.” It’s mainly just another sales tactic.  

Nonetheless, if you are interested in working with Stansberry Research, and you’re comfortable making a large, one-time payment, this is the most efficient way to go. You only pay $99 for lifetime access to each newsletter you bundle, so you end up paying less money for more data in the long run. 

30-Day Trial Memberships

Considering Stansberry’s history and fear-based sales tactics, it’s best to try this service before you buy it if you’re considering signing up. The good news is that you can. 

You can take advantage of a 30-day free trial regardless of the newsletter or newsletters you’re interested in. 

Stansberry Investment Advisory

All newsletters produced by Stansberry Research are considered paid advisory services since you pay for investment recommendations. However, the company has a few newsletters that it calls fully-allocated model portfolios. 

The idea of these newsletters is that you can use all their recommendations for a complete portfolio solution. The three model portfolios the company offers are:

  1. The Total Portfolio. The Total Portfolio is a long-term portfolio strategy that includes a diverse mix of about 40 recommendations. The portfolio’s developers built it to encompass several investment strategies like value, growth, and income investing with a mix of riskier plays like emerging markets and small-cap stocks. 
  2. The Income Portfolio. The Income Portfolio consists of a healthy mix of dividend stocks, bonds, and bond funds. The portfolio’s strategists developed it to provide consistent, reliable monthly investment income. 
  3. The Capital Portfolio. The Capital Portfolio is the company’s entry-level offering. It consists of 20 recommendations for domestic stocks and other investments that are easy to access and manage. 

Advantages of Stansberry Research

Although there are reasons to be wary of Stansberry Research, you can’t discount the fact that the company is still alive nearly a decade and a half after being handed the $1.5 million SEC fine or that it services more than 1 million subscriptions. Some of the biggest advantages to signing up for Stansberry Research include:

  • A La Carte Pricing. Stansberry Research doesn’t group services into packages and make you pay for newsletters you won’t read. Instead, you can buy anything the company offers on an a la carte basis and only pay for what you use. 
  • Trial Subscriptions Available. All subscriptions come with a 30-day risk-free trial, so  you don’t have to pay if the service isn’t what you thought it would be. 
  • Diverse Analysis. The vast majority of newsletters developed by Stansberry Research are developed by members of Stansberry’s 30+ analyst team, so they don’t all take the same approach to the market. 

Disadvantages of Stansberry Research

There are a few reasons you may want to sign up for services from Stansberry Research. Before you do, you should consider the following:

  • SEC Suit. Stansberry was successfully sued by the SEC for lying to his newsletter subscribers and profiting more than $1 million by doing so. Red flags don’t come in bigger sizes.  
  • Fear-Based Sales. Stansberry Research generally takes a “the sky’s falling” approach, and that’s fine — unless extreme statements designed to invoke fear are used as a sales tactic. The best example of this is the 2011 “The End of America” infomercial, but that’s not the only fear-based advertisement the company has used. Nearly everything Stansberry publishes or produces has a negative connotation in at least a small portion of the content that seems purposefully designed to invoke fear and use that fear to get readers, listeners, and watchers to pay for services. 
  • Unrealistic Promises. Anytime something seems too good to be true in the investing industry, it usually is. With a quick search online, you could probably come up with tens or even hundreds of instances in which Stansberry says something to the tune of “You can double your money consistently with little-to-no risk.” My 12-year-old son recently made his first investments and even he understands that if you want to make money in the market, you have to accept risk.

How Stansberry Research Stacks Up

Stansberry Research isn’t the only investment research newsletter online. There are tons of them. Two of our favorite newsletters for investment ideas are The Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha. Check out the chart below to see how Stansberry Research stacks up.

Stansberry Research Seeking Alpha The Motley Fool
Stock Recommendations Yes No Yes
Stock / ETF Research Yes Yes Yes
Price $199 or more per year per newsletter.  Thousands of free articles. $165.99 per year for premium services or $2,399.88 per year for Pro. Most premium newsletters range from $99 to $199 per year. 
Stock Screeners No Yes Yes
Technical Analysis Tools No Yes Yes

Final Word

It’s important to consider who’s writing the news when you sign up for a financial newsletter. Frank Porter Stansberry claims to have an incredible track record of making accurate calls, and most of those times, he backs his claims with the fact that he accurately predicted the 2008 financial crisis. I can’t, nor would I want to, take that away from him. He indeed predicted the crisis. 

But there’s more to the story. 

The economy is known for peaks and troughs. It’s a cyclical beast that will fall on hard times once in a while. If you were to predict an economic crisis and market crash every year, you’d eventually be right, and Stansberry was. 

Interestingly enough, he’s held the same stance since, telling his subscribers to invest based on the idea that the sky is falling. Those who have chosen a highly conservative approach since the crisis likely missed out on significant profits in the longest-running bull market in U.S. history. 

Following the 2008 financial crisis, Stansberry’s sky-is-falling predictions didn’t come to fruition until an unforeseen health care crisis took hold in 2020. It didn’t have anything to do with the government printing money. It didn’t have anything to do with politicians taxing hard-working business owners. It was simply an unforeseen, uncontrollable event — and yes, Stansberry was right again for the first time in more than a decade as the market fell. 

Don’t take our word for it. We encourage you to do your own research, and if you find Stansberry Research to be the team you want to work with, by all means, go for it. Just make sure you do your research first. 

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