Beardstown Ladies

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The Beardstown Ladies is a group of 16 women in their 70s who formed an investment club, formally known as the Beardstown Business and Professional Women's Investment Club, in Beardstown, Illinois in 1983 in a church basement. The club gained media attention after it authored a book, published in 1995, titled The Beardstown Ladies' Common-Sense Investment Guide: How We Beat the Stock Market - And How You Can Too, which claimed that the club produced annual returns of 23.4% since inception. The club authored additional books including The Beardstown Ladies' Stitch-In-Time Guide to GrowingYour Nest Egg: Step-by-Step Planning for a Comfortable Financial Future in January 1996 and The Beardstown Ladies' Pocketbook Guide to Picking Stocks in April 1998.[1] The ladies gained speaking tours and became minor celebrities.[2]

In March 1998, Shane Tritsch published an article in Chicago titled Bull Marketing: Debunking the myth of the Beardstown Ladies and their spectacular stock market gains. The article noted that the club included a disclaimer in its books that the published returns included fees that were charged to members.[3][4]

After an audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the club noted that it had made a computer formula error in calculating its returns and its actual annual returns were 9.1%, which were below those of the S&P 500 Index during the same time period.[5] The club issued an apology and a disclaimer on all of its books, but by that time, it had sold over 1.1 million books.[6]

This revelation led to a class action lawsuit against publisher Hyperion, a division of The Walt Disney Company, which settled the case by offering to swap the Beardstown Ladies books for other Hyperion books.[1]

The experience provided a lesson to many on the importance of vetting investment claims.[7]

In 2010, a member of the club stated that only for4 or 5 of the original members remained in the club; the rest had died.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gongloff, Mark (May 1, 2006). "Where Are They Now: The Beardstown Ladies". The Wall Street Journal. (Subscription required (help)).
  2. ^ GULLAPALLI, DIYA (January 31, 2007). "Peeved members of investing club turn on leaders". The Wall Street Journal.
  3. ^ "March 1998 Table of Contents". Chicago. July 26, 2007.
  4. ^ "THE LESSON FROM BEARDSTOWN". Chicago Tribune. March 28, 1998.
  5. ^ Kadlec, Daniel (March 30, 1998). "Jail the Beardstown Ladies!". Time. (Subscription required (help)).
  6. ^ Quinn, Jane Bryant (March 30, 1998). "Beardstown ladies took us for mediocre ride but sold 732,000 books". The Baltimore Sun.
  7. ^ Singletary, Michelle (May 2, 2014). "Color of Money: 'Good Advice From Bad People' and the financial tips 'they' give". The Washington Post.
  8. ^ RASBACH, NOREEN (March 1, 2010). "20 years on, investing ladies haven't changed their style". The Globe and Mail.