Maybe the stock market isn't so efficient, after all. Just ask a group of ten Playboy models who last month entered a stock-picking contest and so far are trouncing the market. The playmates-turned-prognosticators -- call them porn-folio managers -- posted a return of 6.79 percent for January, handily besting the S&P 500's 2.55 percent gain. The top five have all put up gains of more than 10 percent so far. The average U.S. stock mutual fund returned just 4.40 percent during the same period, according to Morningstar.
Those returns aren't artificially enhanced, either. None of the contestants has any financial training or investing experience, says Ashton Dorkins, editor-in-chief of TradingMarkets.com, a Web site for active traders that is co-sponsoring the contest with Playboy Enterprises. Each had to choose five stocks without outside help. The playmate whose picks post the best performance for 2006 wins $50,000 to donate to the charity of her choice.
Some of the competitors -- who are giving new meaning to the term "financial modeling" -- appear to be following the investing philosophy of exFidelity Magellan skipper Peter Lynch. He famously advised individual investors to buy the companies they knew best. Pilar Lastra, Miss August 2004 and a self-described hypochondriac, says she picked WebMD because she frequently consults the company's health information Web site. Its shares rose 37 percent during January.
Others are employing . . . well, less-studied rationales. Take Playboy Cyber Girl of the Year Amy Sue Cooper's selection of oil-field equipment manufacturer Dril-Quip, which was up 30 percent in January. "It's a drilling company," she writes on the TradingMarkets.com page where the contestants explain their choices. "That just sounds exciting." Cooper, who's studying to be an anesthetist and runs half-marathons in her spare time, leads the competition going into February, with a 21.21 percent return.