Barron’s Roundtable: 2012 Update

January 21, 2013  |  Finance

Update (1/21/13): Post has been updated for Full Year 2012 Returns.

As we have discussed before, following the investment picks of the annual Barron’s Roundtable has been a lucrative approach over the years. From 2002-2011, the average Roundtable return was 11.5% versus -0.2% for S&P 500, with all but one of the members outperforming the index. From 2005-2011, those figures were 8.6% and 0.1%, respectively.

Roundtable Avg9.1%22.2%15.7%-21.4%31.4%17.8%-4.9%8.6%
S&P 5005.2%10.3%4.2%-36.0%19.7%9.8%-1.1%0.1%

Let’s look at the individual Roundtable participants.

Roundtable Avg9.1%22.2%15.7%-21.4%31.4%17.8%-4.9%8.6%
Felix Zulauf12.7%27.4%68.5%15.4%35.9%8.4%8.2%23.8%
Marc Faber3.5%27.9%11.5%16.6%77.4%38.1%-13.8%20.2%
Meryl Witmer36.5%61.0%13.0%-33.6%24.5%8.4%-3.9%11.5%
Fred Hickey4.8%18.2%-20.2%23.1%31.3%20.7%9.2%11.2%
Mario Gabelli6.9%20.2%2.9%-35.9%29.6%42.1%6.1%7.5%
Oscar Schafer-10.7%34.4%12.2%-12.7%32.0%6.9%-6.1%6.5%
Abby Joseph Cohen2.2%17.6%8.4%-18.9%13.3%15.1%-2.7%4.3%
S&P 5005.2%10.3%4.2%-36.0%19.7%9.8%-1.1%0.1%
Scott Black14.0%28.6%-3.8%-42.3%13.7%3.9%-13.6%-2.6%
Archie MacAllaster3.5%-13.3%18.0%-62.5%24.6%16.4%-27.8%-11.8%
Art Samberg16.5%30.7%58.9%-63.1%
John Neff10.3%-8.7%3.7%

* returns only represent price appreciation, assumes an equal allocation across the picks; does not include recommendations from the mid-year roundtable; fixed-income securities are not evaluated

For a full breakdown of returns since 2002, click here.

2011 was the first year of underperformance for the group (-4.9% vs -1.1%). Was this the start of a trend, or would the group bounce back in 2012? Here is how the pundits fared in 2012

2012 returns:

ReturnBest PickWorst Pick
Mario Gabelli24.2%Cincinnati Bell (+73%)Navistar (-44%)
Oscar Schafer19.9%United Rentals (+54%)Verint (+7%)
Marc Faber19.6%Wing Tai Holdings (+89%)Short: (-66%)
Brian Rogers14.0%Thermo Fisher Scientific (+34%)Microsoft (-5%)
Abby Joseph Cohen13.5%JPMorgan Chase (+24%)ExxonMobil (+2%)
S&P 50011.6%
Meryl Witmer10.8%Packaging Corp of America (+49%)Tronox (-27%)
Scott Black6.4%CBS (+37%)Apache (-19%)
Felix Zulauf-5.0%Buy: Gold (+4%)Short: MSCI Emerging Market Index (-16%)
Fred Hickey-8.9%BMC Software (+24%)Marvell Technology (-54%)

For a full breakdown of the 2012 picks, click here.

The pundits collectively slightly underperformed the S&P again in 2012 (10.5% vs 11.6%). Mario Gabelli was the top performer, thanks to several 65%+ gainers: Fortune Brands Home & Security, Cincinnati Bell, and Gaylord Entertainment. Oscar Schafer’s recommendation of United Rentals propelled him to second place, while Marc Faber continued his spectacular performance, with his Singapore and Hong Kong bets paying off in spades. Meanwhile, Abby Joseph Cohen and first-time Roundtable member Brian Rogers both turned in ~14% gains. On the negative side, Felix Zulauf — who had been the best of the group through 2011 — has had his first sub-par year, as his bearish macro take has failed to play out yet in the markets. Finally, Fred Hickey’s recommendation of Marvell Technology has sunk him to the bottom of this year’s rankings.

Here are the updated compounded annual return figures for the periods 2002-12 and 2005-12 (Hickey joined in 2005), with Faber now edging out Zulauf over both time periods:

Updated CAGRs (incorporating 2012 figures)

Roundtable Average11.4%8.9%
Marc Faber22.8%20.2%
Felix Zulauf22.2%19.7%
Oscar Schafer14.2%8.1%
Meryl Witmer11.2%11.4%
Mario Gabelli6.1%9.4%
Scott Black4.9%-1.5%
Abby Joseph Cohen2.9%5.4%
S&P 5000.8%1.5%
Fred Hickey8.5%

To see all the individual picks of the Roundtable members as well as their letter grades, visit the PunditTracker Finance section. We will of course update all these figures once the final numbers are in.


We are now tracking more than 120 pundits on With the 2013 Predictions rolling in, check out all the latest predictions and enter the PT Challenge to compete with the “experts” and win prizes. If you have suggestions for new financial pundits for us to track, please let us know.






  1. What is wrong here? A very first look shows AJC’s pick BA up 38%, which is NOT true. It’s pretty much flat for all of 2012. Please explain. Elliot

    • Elliott, thanks for the heads-up. That was a ticker mistake by us (BAH instead of BA). We have reviewed the rest of the picks again as well as updated for full year 2012 returns.


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