Motley Fool vs. MorningStar: Which Stock Picking Service is Better?

Investing
Updated: 8th Jun 2021
Written by Drew Cheneler
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If you want to invest in the stock market but don’t have the investment expertise necessary to guarantee good results, you’ll probably be better off picking a stock market research service that can provide you with the information, or specific stock picks you need to craft a successful portfolio.

There are lots of different services to choose from. But two of the best stock picking services are Motley Fool and MorningStar.

Although they both provide information and recommendations for stocks and investments, they also have several differences that may make them better or worse choices depending on your goals.

Let’s take a close look at both MorningStar and Motley Fool in-depth so you know which will be a better pick for your needs.

Motley Fool vs. Morningstar Overview

FeaturesMotley FoolMorningstar
Free Investment Information:YesYes
Premium Plan Cost$199 - $1,999$199
Stock RecommendationsYesNo
Live SupportNoNo
Best ForInvestors who want Stock PicksInvestors who want to make their own decisions
Portfolio ManagementYesYes

There are some key differences between these services you should keep in mind when choosing between them.

Because of these differences, some of you may even choose to try both services (at least for a little while).

About Motley Fool

Motley Fool is a stock picking service. This means that its analysts thoroughly investigate a handful of well-performing stocks and put them together in a kind of monthly newsletter that recommends those stocks for subscribers.

In other words, Motley Fool does all the work for you, and you only have to decide on whether you want to follow their information are not.

Motley Fool offers various subscription tiers, with the most popular being Stock Advisor (since it is also fairly affordable).

Stock picks are recommended every Thursday. Users can also take advantage of tons of free content on this website.

>> Dive Deeper: Read Our Full Motley Fool Review

About Morningstar

MorningStar is another investment research firm, but it focuses more on exchange-traded funds and mutual funds.

Furthermore, MorningStar provides more in-depth research and analysis tools, allowing its subscribers to make individual, informed decisions based on a wider variety of recommended stocks and investment info.

MorningStar also provides information on stocks, credit ratings, bonds, and other assets. MorningStar Premium is its flagship subscription service that offers extra tools and features.

Overall, MorningStar offers a more serious and formal approach for those looking to make smart investments.

The difference is best summarized like this: Motley Fool picks out a handful of stocks for you to invest in.

MorningStar analyzes far more ETFs and mutual funds and gives you tools to dive deeper into those assets to determine whether you want to invest in them.

>> Dive Deeper: Read Our Full MorningStar Review

Morningstar vs. Motley Fool: How Do They Work?

Let’s take a deeper dive into how these services work.

How Morningstar Works

MorningStar offers free content as well, but most of its value comes from the Premium membership option.

Subscribers can take advantage of in-depth research for over 600,000 securities along with a “best investment” list that showcases tons of stocks and funds for you to peruse.

In total, premium subscribers can check out 15 lists of ETFs, mutual funds, stocks, and more.

You also gain access to tools and resources to help you narrow down your investment options from that big list, such as stock screeners and an “X-Ray” tool to help you keep your portfolio diverse instead of over-invested into a single sector.

Users can try out Premium for 14 days before putting any money down.

How Motley Fool Works

Motley Fool offers several different subscription tiers and some free content for all its users. In addition, you can get either text messages or weekly emails to alert you when stock recommendations crop up (usually every Thursday).

The weekly releases are rotated between David and Tom Gardner. They both share new stock recommendations and publish lists of top stocks to buy based on their analyses.

Motley Fool says that both men provide average returns on their stock picks of between 300% and 841%.

Each stock report you get comes with lots of detailed analysis and explanations for why the analysts chose the stocks they did.

Users can try out Motley Fool for 30 days before putting any money down.

>> Next Steps: Read Our Guide on How to Research Stocks

Similarities Between Motley Fool and Morningstar

Since both of these services provide stock choices or information for investors, it’s natural that they have several key similarities.

These include:

  • Both are premium (i.e., paid) investment services with similar price points overall
  • Both send out regular newsletters to subscribers or users and include websites that users can log into to view the latest information
  • Both services include additional reports, portfolio trackers, educational content, and more so their users can best utilize their analytical data

Differences Between Morningstar and Motley Fool

When choosing between MorningStar and Motley Fool, it’s important to keep their major differences in mind if you only have the budget to subscribe to one at a time.

The major differences include:

  • Motley Fool takes a more fun and casual approach to the stock market, whereas MorningStar has a more formal approach
  • Motley Fool only lists between 10 and 15 stocks to choose from at once; MorningStar offers thousands of stocks, funds, and more
  • Motley Fool offers new stock recommendations every week, whereas MorningStar’s recommendations aren’t as frequent, but there are many more choices to sift through with each analytical newsletter/report
  • Motley Fool includes fewer analytics tools and special features compared to MorningStar, which may make the latter a better choice for investors who like a more hands-on approach or who like to research their stocks a little more in-depth before deciding

Motley Fool vs. Morningstar: Plans & Pricing

Naturally, one of the major factors that will determine whether MorningStar or Motley Fool is better for you is the pricing between both services.

Let’s also dive deep into the plans and special features each service provides for its paying members.

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

  • Pricing: $199 per year ($99 per year for first-time members for the first year)
  • Overview: Motley Fool offers additional pricing plans and membership tiers with additional perks/info, such as Rule Breakers ($299 per year) or Stock Advisor Bundle ($498 per year)

Features & Benefits:

  • Two Monthly Picks: Motley Fool focuses mostly on two top-tier stock picks per month. These are intended to be ideal choices for folks looking to make the most of stock market investing with a minimum of effort or investigative work on their ends.
  • Best Buys: This is the staple Motley Fool offering: a selection of 10 great stocks to buy selected from over 300.
  • Starter Stocks: Motley Fool offers a foundational selection of great stocks for new or inexperienced investors.
  • Community Resources: Motley Fool offers several community resources, like forum access and educational resources to train yourself to become an expert stock picker.

Morningstar Premium

  • Pricing: $29.95 per month, $199 per year, $349 for two years, or $449 for three years
  • Overview: Users can check out a two-week free trial, but it’s cheaper, in the long run, to pick up a subscription for at least one year than it is to subscribe on a month-to-month basis.

Features & Benefits:

  • Analyst Reports: MorningStar offers in-depth analyst reports for over 600,000 assets and funds; these are great for investors that want to dive deep into MorningStar’s analytics and processes.
  • Portfolio Manager: MorningStar’s portfolio manager is perfect if you want to ensure diversification and meet your financial goals. The manager can also help you determine whether investing in a new stock or fund will help you reach your goals on time!
  • Investment Picks: MorningStar can provide targeted investment picks for specific goals, like retirement, meeting a certain financial benchmark for kids’ college, and so on.
  • Stock Screeners: MorningStar’s stock screeners tool helps you sift through the 600,000 different assets mentioned above by narrowing them down based on price, industry, etc.
  • Portfolio X-Ray: The X-Ray tool takes an in-depth look at your portfolio as it stands and alerts you if you need to diversify, if your stocks may not return the dividends you are aiming for, and more.

Motley Fool vs. Morning Star Pros & Cons

As you can see, both MorningStar and Motley Fool are valuable stock investment subscription services.

Still not sure which one you should go with? Let’s break down their pros and cons for an even more informed comparison.

Motley Fool

Pros:

  • Offers four investment advisory plans with different specializations or focuses
  • Has great recommendations for individual stocks and funds
  • Many of their advisory plans have stock picks that outperformed the S&P 500: often considered the standard metric against which you should measure your portfolio’s performance
  • Tons of free and effective investment information on their website

Cons:

  • Lots of upselling to sift through – you’ll often be pressured to buy more than one advisory service
  • Not a lot of in-depth tools for portfolio management or recommendations for when you should sell an investment

Morningstar

Pros:

  • Excellent and in-depth information on thousands of securities and funds
  • Great portfolio management and analysis tools from the MorningStar website and mobile app
  • All analyses and ratings are updated regularly, providing constant and accurate information
  • One program to subscribe to, so no upselling to worry about
  • You get to choose individual securities and funds within your plan

Cons:

  • Does not makes specific stock recommendations, so you have to decide whether an investment is worthwhile

Who Is Motley Fool Best For?

In the end, Motley Fool is a better choice overall for those who like to pick up a few great stocks and maintain an active portfolio.

Motley Fool takes a casual and accessible approach to investing and offers good choices for those who like to pick a couple of different stocks without doing the in-depth research that MorningStar requires.

Who Is Morningstar Best For?

MorningStar, by comparison, is better for folks who want more general market information and more detailed analysis for a wider variety of stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs.

It’s a particularly good service for investors who want to put a lot of their wealth into mutual funds and ETFs or for folks who want more data they can use to support individual investment theses.

They don’t provide recommendations for specific stocks, so they do require a little more independent thinking on your part.

How Does Motley Fool & Morningstar Compare to Other Options?

While both MorningStar and Motley Fool are popular choices, they aren’t the only two investment research firms you can check out.

#1. StockRover

StockRover is a specialized stock screening service with more in common with MorningStar than Motley Fool. It’s a good pick if you want to build a custom portfolio for specific goals or investment needs.

#2. Seeking Alpha

Seeking Alpha offers a ton of free blog content in addition to a premium service that costs $29.99 per month. This service offers a wealth of investment ideas and data to back up its suggestions.

#3. Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal offers a plethora of stock investment information, but it’s heavily weighted toward experienced investors willing to do additional research. On the plus side, you get excellent opinion columns from this newspaper!

#4. Barron’s

Barron’s is similar to the WSJ in that it’s an informative and opinion-based market research subscription.

It’s great for experienced investors looking for insightful commentary and sound advice, but it doesn’t pick stocks like Motley Fool does. That said, Barron’s is one of the best financial magazines and is used by thousands of Americans.

Is Motley Fool or Morningstar Better?

Overall, neither Motley Fool nor MorningStar is “better” than the other. Instead, they are both better for different investing styles and specific needs.

Again, Motley Fool is perfect if you want to build a portfolio of 10 or more stocks with a minimum of deep-dive research necessary on your part.

They provide specific stock recommendations every month, after all.

MorningStar is better if you want a broader and more measured portfolio and want to pick your own investments after getting some extra analytics data from experts in the industry.

Bottom Line: Motley Fool vs. Morningstar

We think MorningStar and Motley Fool are great investment research firms perfect for unique needs or goals.

Our advice? Try them both out since they both offer free trials! Then you can pick the one that best suits your investment style or portfolio goals.

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Drew Cheneler
Drew Cheneler
Drew is a recognized Credit, Small Business, and Personal Finance Expert. He has been quoted in CNBC, Fox Business News Section, The Huffington Post, Business.com, Moneyunder30, US Chamber of Commerce, and more. He is known for breaking down complex personal finance topics into action-oriented advice, so you can make the most of your hard-earned money.