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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mark Hulbert and the Two Bob Brinkers....Let's Chat

Posted October 27, 2010....Bob Brinker's Marketimer model portfolios have been included in Hulbert Financial Digest since 1986.

When Bob Brinker's son and daughter-in-law began publishing a newsletter titled, "Brinker Fixed Income Advisor," Mark Hulbert almost immediately added it to the roster of HFD.

However, the way that Hulbert lists the Advisor in HFD makes no distinction between the two Bob Brinkers. Hulbert has never indicated in HFD that the Fixed Income Advisor is published by the son and daughter-in-law, not the famous talk show host who publishes Marketimer.

Coincidentally, about the same time that Brinker's son and daughter-in-law began publishing the Fixed Income Advisor, "Jr." began posting on the internet simply as Bob Brinker (dropping the Jr) -- on his website and Twitter. No doubt, this has been very effective in deceiving many people about his true identity and his investment education, expertise, experience.

There have been numerous callers on Moneytalk who have told Brinker that they get his "two newsletters." Usually, the only reply that Brinker makes is a simple thank you. Brinker has never explained to the Moneytalk audience that the Fixed Income Advisor is actually published by his son and daughter-in-law.

Ironically, before he left his career in IT/computer technology and started selling newsletters, Bob M. Brinker (Jr) used to post on the internet as "Bob Jr" -- and he meticulously avoided being mistaken for his famous father. Here's a sample of his writing:

From: Bob Brinker, Jr. 2229 of xxxxx Greg - 11/8/1997

I truly apologize for the confusion. I am not Bob Sr. I am Bob Jr. This has happened on occasion before and I NEVER attempt to misrepresent myself as Bob Sr. From now on, I will always sign my name as bob jr. in hopes of avoiding future confusion. FWIW (For what its worth) I would not be surprised if Bob Sr. read your note to me anyway!

thanks - bob jr!

It's interesting to note that Mark Hulbert also gave Bob Brinker a mulligan on the disastrous 2000/2001 counter-trend rally QQQQ trades. Hulbert knows that Brinker recommended using model portfolio cash reserves but never added the trades to his portfolio official records. Hulbert actually uses a "footnote with asterisk" to make an excuse as to why HFD does not count those trades when ranking Brinker's portfolios.

Now in the latest issue of Hulbert Financial Digest, there is another Hulbert mulligan (I use "mulligan" but stronger words come to mind) in favor of the Brinkers. This time, it's Jr's Fixed Income Advisor that gets the benefit of Mark Hulbert playing fast and loose with the facts.

In Hulbert Financial Digest, Hulbert has recently been doing a lot of tinkering around with how he reports his ranking "scoreboards." He's changed the time-frames and changed the order in which the results are listed -- he now gives first billing to the "risk-adjusted" rankings. So one has to dig to find the actual performance that isn't skewed by Hulbert's jury-rigging.

Brinker's Fixed Income Advisor is listed in Hulbert's October 5 year top-5 "Overall Performance Scoreboard," EVEN THOUGH it comes in #25 without Hulbert's risk-adjustment hockey-puck.

You say that's quite an accomplishment for Jr, after all, his newsletter is only five years old! Yep, and even more so when you realize that the Fixed Income Advisor is 100% Fixed Income and Hulbert's performance rating is supposed to be for stock newsletters!

You might say, well that's not fair, but after all, it is a BRINKER! Then what would you say if I told you that I wrote to Mark Hulbert and showed him proof that he has Brinker's Fixed Income Advisor listed as containing equites? And what would you say if I told you that Hulbert (again) made up some convoluted excuse to give Brinker a pass?

Here is how Hulbert justified "mischaracterizing" the Fixed Income Advisor to give it the advantage over the equity newsletters it is ranked with. This is an excerpt from Mark Hulbert's email reply to me when I wrote and showed him how he had misrepresented the Fixed Income Advisor:
"I think the source of this listing that you report is a function of the algorithm that determines the range of asset classes that are reflected in a newsletter’s portfolios. I think the algorithm defaults to “E” whenever there is one or more securities that otherwise doesn’t get mapped specifically to one of the five classes. I suspect that some of the exchange traded funds that Brinker recommends fall into this category, though without a lot more work I can’t be sure…Mark"
That statement about the ETFs is totally false. The Fixed Income Advisor contains clearly only fixed income mutual funds and ETFs. Nothing that could possibly be mistaken for equities -- no matter how many "algorithms" one "defaults" to....LOL!!!

So what is the relationship between the Brinkers and Hulbert? I don't know, but I think it's pretty apparent that they are good for each other when it comes to selling newsletters....

One further note on this subject. I have read a sample BobJr's fixed income newsletter and I have read the latest copy of the Retirement Advisor, which is published by Kirk Lindstrom and David Korn. In my opinion, there is no comparison. Kirk and David's "Retirement Advisor" is superior, by far. If you are interested, I recommend that you get free copies of BOTH newsletters and make your own comparison. I am fully convinced that you will choose "Retirement Advisor." (Click for a Free Issue of The Retirement Advisor.)

I took these pictures from my deck last week when we had some nice rain and wonderful fog over the Santa Cruz Mountains. Click to enlarge


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