Major indices finish lower amid GE earnings disappointment >>> READ MORE Editor’s Best (and Worst) Calls of 2011

Dividend picks look smart — BAC, not so much

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Good Buy Calls

The buy side was much more difficult, and frequently when I got it “right,” it resulted in lackluster single-digit returns that more or less tracked the market. But a few big winners include dividend stocks I called out amid the volatility as a safe haven.

In March, taking my advice on Lorillard (NYSE:LO) would have netted you about 18% during the next nine months. An April call on AmBev (NYSE:ABV) garnered 22% gains.

And then there was a July 28 article about blue chips for the debt crisis where all are winners even though the market is in the red — led by 15% returns in McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) since publication. The story is the same for a September column on other dividend stocks, with all five picks posting profits and pharma stock Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) leading the pack with 20% gains in just a few months — double the market.

My WORST Calls

The ugliest recommendation of the year that I made involved, embarrassingly enough, a feature promoting the top picks from top contributors. I made a very aggressive recommendation on Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) because I wanted to win — and I knew a sleepy blue chip wouldn’t get me to the head of the pack.

I briefly was in the lead across the first few months as BAC moved upward … but then it began a steady downward spiral to current valuations around $5.50 per share.

I ate a lot of crow as a result of this boneheaded call … but at least I warned folks that while I had to stick with the stock as part of our contest, I already had thrown in the towel and considered BAC a horrible investment.

If you think that was bad, it gets worse.

In a controversial column on MarketWatch and on InvestorPlace after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, I offered up some stocks in the nuclear industry to buy — all have underperformed the market, but the biggest black eye came from USEC Inc. (NYSE:USU). The stock is off a gut-wrenching 70% since my article.

I could try to explain away that this has more to do with the debt crisis in Europe affecting nuclear plant funding than any aversion to uranium, but that’s all academic. A 75% loss is pretty brutal — and I sincerely hope nobody followed my advice on that doozy.

Accountability at

In the new year, I hope to continue some regular disclosures from all our InvestorPlace columnists as a way to show that we are giving recommendations in good faith and that we are not afraid to own up to our mistakes.

If you have any comments to share with our writers or have ideas on how we can best achieve some form of transparency, please send your thoughts to me at

We are a site run by investors, for investors, and we are in this together. It’s very important to me that all readers can trust our commentary — so please don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

Jeff Reeves is the editor of Write him at, follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook. Jeff Reeves holds a position in Alcoa, but no other publicly traded stocks.

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