Getting professional stock picks handed to you can make investing a lot simpler. Instead of having to spend hours combing through the entire universe of stocks, experienced stock analysts do the hard work of identifying strong companies and stocks that are poised to gain value. So, using a stock picking service can save you tons of time and help you focus on the best stocks for your strategy.
We’ve tested out dozens of services to bring you the five best stock picking services available today:
- Best Overall – Motley Fool Stock Advisor
- Best for Stock Ratings – Zacks
- Best for Growth Stocks – Motley Fool Rule Breakers
- Best for “Under the Radar” Stock Picks – Seeking Alpha
- Best for Technical Stock Picks – IBD MarketSmith and Leaderboard
Best Stock Picking Services
Every stock picking service takes a different approach to investing. We’ll take a closer look at the top five stock picking services to help you decide which is right for you.
Best Overall – Motley Fool Stock Advisor
The Motley Fool’s Stock Advisor is hands down our favorite stock picking service. It’s easy to see why – this monthly newsletter has outperformed the S&P 500 by more than 3-fold since it launched in 2002 (363% return vs. 115% for the S&P 500 as of December 2022).
Stock Advisor has achieved this success by focusing on long-term growth stocks. Some of its best picks include Amazon, Costco, and Tesla, all in the days before investors everywhere owned shares of these companies. The service recommends buying and holding recommended stocks for at least three years, so this service is best for long-term investors.
The Stock Advisor newsletter delivers two ready-to-buy stock picks each month. Investors can simply buy the recommended stocks with almost no additional research required. In addition, the service maintains a list of five “starter” stocks that investors can add to their portfolio anytime. Another monthly “best buy now” list offers five stocks already in the portfolio that are timely re-buys.
Stock Advisor costs $199 per year.
- Two new stock picks each month
- Shortlists of stocks to buy anytime
- Focuses on long-term growth stocks
- Outperformed the S&P 500 by three-fold since 2002 (as of December 2022)
Best for Stock Ratings – Zacks
Zacks is a stock ranking platform that offers lists of top stocks and in-depth research from professional analysts. It’s best-suited for investors who want to be pointed in the direction of good stocks to buy, but who still want to do their own research and make their own picks.
The key feature Zacks offers is its #1 Rank List. This is a list of around 100 stocks that Zacks analysts rate as strong buys. The list turns over every couple weeks, so active investors will find plenty of new ideas to keep them busy.
Zacks also offers tons of research tools to help investors choose what to invest in from the #1 Rank List. Each stock is accompanied by A-F ratings for its value, growth, and momentum and a thorough analyst report. Zacks also offers a stock screener to help investors find stocks from the #1 Rank List that match their strategy.
Access to the #1 Rank List requires a Zacks Premium subscription, which costs $249 per year.
- #1 Rank List includes dozens of strong buy stocks
- Stock picks turn over frequently
- In-depth stock research and analyst reports
- Stock screener included
Best for Growth Stocks – Motley Fool Rule Breakers
Rule Breakers is a very similar service to Stock Advisor, and it’s proven just as good at picking winning stocks. Since it launched in 2004, it’s outperformed the S&P 500 by around two-fold (188% return vs. 98% for the S&P 500 as of December 2022).
Like Stock Advisor, Rule Breakers is a monthly newsletter that delivers two new recommendations each month. In fact, Rule Breakers is run by the same analyst team that contributes one of the two Stock Advisor picks each month.
However, Rule Breakers is distinct in that it focuses more heavily on growth stocks in emerging sectors, like niche areas within the tech industry. There’s occasionally overlap between Stock Advisor and Rule Breakers, but the two services are designed to be complimentary rather than redundant.
The Motley Fool offers Rule Breakers on its own for $299 per year. Alternatively, the Epic Bundle costs $499 per year and includes Rule Breakers, Stock Advisor, and two other Motley Fool stock picking services: Everlasting Stocks and Real Estate Winners.
- Two new stocks picks each month
- Focuses on growth stocks in emerging tech niches
- Updated list of timely stocks to buy each month
- Outperformed the S&P 500 by nearly two-fold since 2004 (as of December 2022)
Best for “Under the Radar” Stock Picks – Seeking Alpha
Seeking Alpha is another stock picking service that points investors in the direction of worthwhile stocks, but leaves it up to you to decide what to invest in. What’s great about this platform is that it provides a wide variety of different ratings for each stock to help you decide what to buy.
Each stock that Seeking Alpha includes in its top stock list receives three 1-5 ratings: an algorithm-based rating, a rating based on Wall Street analyst sentiment, and a rating based on the analysis of Seeking Alpha’s contributors. Each stock also receives A-F ratings for its valuation, growth, profitability, momentum, and EPS estimate revisions.
Seeking Alpha offers a number of resources for researching picks, including a comprehensive stock screener and in-depth financial data. The platform also includes opinion articles from a wide variety of contributors so you can read both the bull case and the bear case for any stock.
Seeking Alpha Premium costs $49 for the first year, then $239 per year.
- List of dozens of top-rated stocks
- Multiple ratings based on different analysis approaches
- Opinion articles offer multiple perspectives on a stock
- Discounted to $49 for the first year
Best for Technical Stock Picks – IBD MarketSmith and Leaderboard
MarketSmith and Leaderboard are two services from Investor’s Business Daily that provide technical-based stock picks. The platforms rely on the same underlying algorithm that recognizes chart patterns and combines them with technical analysis to predict price moves before they happen.
The main difference between MarketSmith and Leaderboard is in how much access you have to the algorithm and its results. MarketSmith lets you look up technical analysis for any stock and includes lots of details about what the algorithm is seeing. Leaderboard only shows you annotated charts for top picks and doesn’t provide as much stock research alongside the chart.
Both services are designed for swing traders and active investors. Most patterns that IBD’s algorithm highlights are momentum patterns that develop over days to weeks. Some trades can take a few months to play out.
MarketSmith costs $19.95 for three weeks, then $149.95 per month. Leaderboard costs $9.95 for three weeks, then $69 per month.
- Automated charting and technical analysis
- Identifies momentum stocks that are ripe for trading
- Weekly to monthly trading timeframe
- Three-week trial period
How to Choose a Stock Picking Service
There are a few important things to consider when choosing a stock picking service.
Ready-to-buy Picks vs. Directed Research
Stock picking services can be broadly divided into two camps. The first includes services like Stock Advisor, Rule Breakers, and IBD Leaderboard that offer ready-to-buy stock picks and don’t require much research on the part of investors. The second includes services like Zacks, Seeking Alpha, and IBD MarketSmith that point investors towards top stocks, but leave it up to investors to do their own research and decide what to buy.
Which type of service is right for you comes down to your investing style. If you’re time-limited and prefer to follow a prescribed portfolio, then ready-to-buy picks might work best for you. If you enjoy researching stocks and crafting your own portfolio, then a more research-heavy stock picking service might be a better option.
Investment Time Horizon
Another thing to consider is the intended time horizon for stock picks. Some services deliver buy-and-hold picks that are designed for long-term investors, while others aim their picks at short-term traders and active investors.
Investors should also think about the investment strategy used for finding picks. Some services focus on value stocks, others on growth stocks. Some services look primarily at technical analysis, while others blend fundamental and technical analysis. Make sure the strategy that a stock picking service uses matches your own approach to investing.
The price of a stock picking service should be considered in relation to how much you plan to invest. If you have a $1,000 portfolio and a stock picking service can help you improve your returns by 10% per year, you’ll still end up losing money if it costs more than $100 per year. On the other hand, if you have a $10,000 portfolio, that same stock picking service would net you a higher return than you’re generating now.
FAQ: Best Stock Picking Services
Should I use a stock picking service?
Many non-professional investors can benefit from a stock picking service. These services point you towards stocks that have sound fundamentals or strong technical setups. That makes it easier to invest in stocks that beat the broader market without starting the research process from scratch.
Are stock picking services worth it?
Stock picking services can dramatically reduce the time and effort required to invest in individual stocks. However, not all stock picking services outperform the market, so it’s important to carefully evaluate a service before you sign up.
Are there free stock picking services?
There are some free stock picking services, but these free services are rarely able to beat the market consistently. It costs money to get access to experienced stock analysts. This can be money well-spent if a stock picking service helps boost your portfolio’s returns.