Motley Fool vs Zacks – Which is Better? (Side by Side Comparison 2024)

Zacks vs. Motley Fool: Which is the Better Stock Pick Platform?

The fact that you landed on this page indicates you are already a pretty knowledgeable investor.

You might have noticed ads and articles from Motley Fool and Zacks Investment Research boasting about their great profits.

You may be wondering “which is the better platform for stock picks?”

Today we will be comparing Zacks Premium and Motley Fool Stock Advisor.

These are both two proven investment services and stock picking services with remarkably different benefits and features. Each has their own unique perspective on which stocks to invest in for short term swing trades, or longer term value investing.

This has led to HUGE DIFFERENCE in gains made from the stock suggestions offered from each platform…

Let’s get straight to it and determine the ideal platform for you. But first here is a quick comparison of the services. Zacks is much more of a do-it-yourself research platform, whereas the Motley Fool has some great performing stock newsletters that give specific stock recommendations:

At-a-Glance Comparison: Zacks vs. Motley Fool

Zacks Investment ResearchMotley Fool
Overall Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommended service:Zacks PremiumStock Advisor
Service type:Premium investment research platformStock-picking newsletter
Best for:Do-it-yourself investorsLong-term (5 years) investors who just want
2 stock picks a month
Retail Price:$249/year$199/year
Best Current Promotion:None: Sign up at Retail PriceSave $100 on THIS promo page
and try it for just $99 for first year. Also includes immediate access to recent picks.

Here is a quick summary of how these two services’ 2023 stock picks have performed versus other well known services in the same price range as of December 31, 2023:

Our Best-of-the-Best Awards for 2023

Ranking of Top Stock Newsletters Based on 2023 Picks, Dec. 31, 2023

We are paid subscribers to dozens of stock and option newsletters. We actively track every recommendation from all of these services, calculate performance, and share our results of the top performing stock newsletters for under $500 below. The main metric to look for is EXCESS RETURN--that means they are beating the market!

RankStock NewsletterStock
Max %
Min %
Stock Advisor
Everlasting Stocks
Alpha Picks
Value Investor
Rule Breakers
6.Real Estate Investors1214.6%11.9%2.7%83%44%-11%
7.Cramer's Action Alerts Plus10110.6%11.1%-0.5%48%96%-51%
8.Zacks Top 101023.2%26.2%-3%60%120%-24%
9.Top Under $1059-2.4%2.8%-5.2%36%130%-44%
10.Home Run Investor46-1.8%3.6%-5.4%50%49%-29%
11.Dogs of the Dow1014.5%26.2%-11.7%70%95%-25%
12.IBD Top 50 Leaderboard5013.5%26.2%-12.7%n/an/an/a
Top Ranking Stock Newsletters based on their 2023 stock picks' performance as compared to S&P500. S&P500's return is based on average return of SP from date each stock pick is released. NOTE: To get these results you must buy equal dollar amounts of each pick on the date the stock pick is released. Investor Business Daily Top 50 based on performance of FFTY ETF.

And here is a detailed look at how these services are doing as of the end of March, 2024. In this chart you will see the Motley Fool services, then 4 of Zacks most popular services, and then Investors Business Daily, Cramer’s Action Alerts Plus and then the simple Dogs of the Dow strategy:

As you can see, the Motley Fool’s Stock Advisor and their Rule Breakers services are both doing well for 2024, 2023, over the last 8 years (since I have been a subscriber), and since inception (beating the market by 520% and 130%).

Zack’s different services are generally beating the market by just a few percentage points. That indicates to me that there model/stock ranking is valid to evaluate your own portfolio, but if you want specific picks Stock Advisor and Rule Breakers seem to offer a high return if you have money to invest monthly and plan to stay invested for 5+ years.

The rest of the review will cover how I arrived at these ratings, more about each service, and why I prefer Motley Fool over Zacks.

About Zacks Investment Research

Len Zacks founded Zacks Investment Research in 1978.

Zacks Premium offers independent research for insights into a company’s future expected and overall performance. Ultimately, Zack’s wants to equip you with a trading advantage. Industry experts mostly manage Zack’s and prioritize quantitatively analyzing instead of fundamental (value investing) for the company’s market outlook.

They have a reputation for analyzing equities, mutual funds, and ETFs.

Zacks Research Features 

Unlike The Motley Fool, they don’t tell you what to buy, but they show you ratings on stocks you might consider buying. This helps with your own research and decision making.

Zack’s functions as more of a “do-it-yourself” research tool.

Specifically, Zack’s Investment Research follows:

  • Brokerage & Analysts Ratings
  • Earnings per share forecasts (EPS)
  • Earnings per share (EPS) Revisions measure the expected change in earnings per share over time.

Their research found that stocks consistently rated as “strong buys” and with increased earnings per share (EPS) outperform the market.

One of the most compelling insights for Zack’s research: 

According to the chart from January, 2024, stocks rated as #1 Strong Buy have outperformed the market. They have had an average yearly return of 24.2% compared to the market’s average of 10.9% over the past 36 years.

Equally crucial, stocks they rank as #5 Strong Sell notably lag behind the market. Indeed, the graph’s incline is what you’d anticipate, as it improves quite nicely from #5 (Strong Sell) to #1 (Strong Buy). 

Does the Zack Stock Rankings Truly Work?

How reliable is the Zacks Rank at predicting future stock performance?

Zacks rates over 19,000 mutual funds on a scale from one to five. Zack’s rates stocks in U.S. funds to find the best ones and ranks mutual funds based on those top holdings.

What do these ratings mean?

  • A rating of ONE (1) signals a “Strong Buy” recommendation.
  • A rating of FIVE (5) signals a “Strong Sell” recommendation.

Additionally, you can access articles featuring Zacks top stocks, ETFs, and mutual fund picks. They send the newsletter by email every weekday morning. It gives a summary of the market, its impact on investors, and recent changes in stock ratings.

Over the past 36 years, stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 Stocks had an average return of 24.2% per year! In comparison, the S&P 500 had a return of 10.9%.

Conversely, stocks with a Zacks Rank #5 had a significantly lower average return of 2.2% as you saw above.

So yes, Zacks Rank is an excellent indicator of future performance.

Zacks Premium

Zacks Premium gives you exclusive access to powerful research and tools and their Zacks Rank for more than 10,000 stocks.

Access to these features will give you an edge in improving the performance of your investments. The Zacks Premium homepage gives you access to everything included in your membership. To get there:

  • Log on to
  • Hover over the “Services” tab (top of the page)
  • Select “Zacks Premium”

Pro tip: Bookmark this Zacks page to help you get there faster each day!

The Premium Tools & Resources include:

  • Zacks #1 Rank List: The top 5% of stocks with the most potential, from Value to Growth, Moment and Income, and more!
  • Industry Rank List: Sorts over 250 industry groups.
  • Earnings ESP Filter: Stocks with the highest % upside of surprising for profitable earnings.
  • Premium Screens: Access a list of the best stocks, including value, growth, momentum, income, and more!
  • Focus List: A collection of 50 stocks chosen by Zacks’ Research Director, Sherax Miam, based on earnings momentum.
  • Research Reports: Each report covers over 1,000 popular stocks and includes independently analyzed by Zacks. It provides detailed insights on a company’s fundamentals and growth potential.

Other Zacks Offerings

If you like Zacks system for determining winning stocks but don’t want to do the research yourself, you may be interested in Zacks Home Run Investor. It’s a done-for-you investing newsletter (like Motley Fool Stock Advisor) based on the underlying investment approach taken at Zacks.

New subscribers can join Home Run Investor for just $149 $99 for the first 12 months. 

CLICK HERE to get Zacks Home Run Investor

In addition to Zacks Premium and Home Run Investor, Zacks offers:

  • Zacks Investor Collection. This membership comes with everything in Premium, plus real-time buy and sell signals and the Stocks Under $10.
  • Zacks Ultimate. This membership is the most inclusive package, including everything mentioned above and access to every recommendation the firm offers.

About The Motley Fool

Tom and David Gardner founded The Motley Fool in 1993.

Since then, the company has helped hundreds of thousands of investors make better investment decisions through their investing newsletter services, educational content, and other resources.

Instead of providing quantitative research like Zacks, The Motley Fool’s premium services provide 2 stock recommendations to buy each month.

Motley Fool Research Features

The Motley Fool is best known for the incredible results its services have generated over the last 20 years (more on this below).

While the investment team’s exact process for picking stocks is proprietary, they do provide stock reports to accompany each new recommendation.

The Motley Fool also offers investing resources, a community of like-minded investors, money-back guarantees, and more.

“Best Practices” recommended by The Motley Fool:

  • Having a portfolio of at least 25 stocks
  • Invest regularly and be prepared to withstand market declines
  • Suggested to hold onto the stocks for a minimum of 5 years

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

The Motley Fool Stock Advisor is the company’s flagship newsletter service. Users get access to the company’s top investors and two new stock recommendations each month. Every recommendation includes a detailed explanation analyzing why you should consider their specific stock picks.

Here is what you get with Motley Fool Stock Advisor:

  • Ten Starter Stocks: The first recommendation for all new members is to consider the Stock Advisor’s “starter stocks.” If you are a new investor, these stocks can help you build a well diversified portfolio of high growth stocks.
    • They are typically re-recommendations of previous picks.
  • 10 Best Stocks to Buy Right Now: The 2 teams pick five “best buys now” each month (a total of ten picks). Each stock’s underlying businesses look to be much stronger than the current price warrants.
    • They look for companies that have hit a minor setback, or companies that have just reported great news. Best buys come with a short write-up detailing why the stock is a good investment at that time.
  • 2 New Stock Picks Each Month: The Motley Fool is highly “competitive,” and the Stock Advisor team is no exception. David and Tom Gardner, the Fool’s Founders, lead two teams of Stock Advisors.
    • They each choose one stock every month that they believe is a good investment for members. The teams compete to provide the best stocks and track the performance of each pick.

This intra-company competition is working exceptionally well. Here is how those stock picks have performed since 2002:

That charts says it all. They have absolutely crushed the S&P500 over these 20 years.

With each recommendation, you get a thorough write-up about the investment thesis behind each team’s choice, as well as potential risks. From these 2 new picks a month, the Motley Fool advertises these fantastic returns since inception in 2002.

My Experience with Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Since January 2016, my portfolio has grown well and I’ve received reliable stock picks from Motley Fool’s Stock Advisor.

Here’s a quick peek at my ETrade account and their best pick of 2020 (as of December 31, 2023). 

  • I always buy about $1,500 of each of their 2 stock picks each month in my ETrade account. 
  • I bought 60 shares of TESLA at (split adjusted) $28.59, as recommended by Motley Fool Stock Advisor on January 2, 2020.

On that $1,700 trade I now have a 868% return and a $13,000+ profit in 34 years!

Here is another one of their top performers that I bought. HUBS was recommended on December 5, 2019 and I bought 10 shares at $153. In January, 2024 it hit $601 giving me a $4,473 profit:

At I showed at the top of this analysis, the Motley Fool Stock Advisor has been performing better than Zacks and other competition for the last12 months. This calculation relies on returns, percentage of winners, and the highest and lowest percentages.

The Motley Fool recommends you hold stocks at least 5 years. Take a look at the charts above of how their picks that are at least 5 years old have done for me:

They are definitely doing something right as their picks that are at least 5 years old have averaged 227% and easily beat the SP by 94%.

I just like these ease and stress free way to invest with the Motley Fool.

Stock Advisor is their oldest and premier Motley Fool newsletter service with over 500,000 subscribers. The primary purpose of this service is to TELL investors what two stocks to buy each month. They also tell you when to sell and over the 20 years they have sold off about 33% of their picks.

Motley Fool Stock Advisor is my preferred platform for reliable stock picks that have consistently grown over time.

Get a special discount on Motley Fool Stock Advisor by signing up through Wall Street Survivor:

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The Better Stock Picking: Zacks or Motley Fool?

We realize both Zacks Premium and Motley Fool Stock Advisor are similar (but different) in many ways. Are you wondering if Zacks Premium is worth it or if Zacks is reliable? We will summarize how Zacks’ top rated stocks compare to Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks.

This comparison of these two services can help you decide which one ranks stocks in the most effective manner.

ZacksMotley Fool
Year Founded:19781993 (Stock Advisor was launched in 2002)
Type of Service:Stock analyzing tools help you evaluate stocks and research your own market ideas. Think of it as a do-it-yourself service for those of you that like to research your stocks.Stock recommendation service that recommends 2 stocks each month and provides other “top stocks to buy” lists. They assist with monthly investments, making it simpler and less tense to build a portfolio over a year with market fluctuations.
Performance Statistics:Their stocks rated a “Strong Buy” have an average annual return of 24.2% vs S&P’s 10.7% going back to 1988.Stock Advisor stock picks are up 750+% vs the S&P’s 150% going back to 2002.

Type of Service:

  • Zacks: Stock analyzing tools help you evaluate stocks and research your own market ideas. Think of it as a do-it-yourself service for those of you that like to research your stocks
  • Motley Fool: Stock Recommendation service that recommends 2 stocks each month and provides other “top stocks to buy” lists. They assist with monthly investments, making it simpler and less tense to build a portfolio over a year with market fluctuations.

Years in Business:

  • Zacks: Started in 1978
  • Motley Fool: Launched first stock newsletter in 2002

Performance Statistics:

  • Zacks: Their stocks rated a “Strong Buy” have an average annual return of 24.2% vs S&P’s 10.7% going back to 1988.
  • Motley Fool: Stock Advisor stock picks are up 750+% vs the S&P’s 155% going back to 2002.

While they both always boast about their long-term performance, I like to start by looking at their recent performance. Here is a quick snapshot of the performance of various newsletters’ 2023 picks (including Zacks & Motley Fool) and their last 12 months of picks:

As you can see, the Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks are consistently the strongest.

To more easily compare the Motley Fool’s 700+% total return since 2002 versus Zacks’ 24.2% average annual return, here are how Stock Advisor’s picks have performed on an annual basis.

  • Their 2016 picks are up 230% which over 6 years is an average annual rate of return of 32%
  • Their 2017 picks are up 363% which is an average annual rate of return of 60%
  • Their 2018 picks are up 141% which is an average annual rate of return of 28%
Get Stock Advisor for just $199/year $99 your first year

Summary of the Key Differences: Zacks Premium vs. Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Zacks Premium gives users access to a variety of different stock analyzing tools and ratings. They rank their stock lists based on many different metrics (i.e., earnings).

The information provided by Zacks is an excellent source to base your investment research on going forward. Zacks Investing Research is helpful for selecting stocks, and can be more beneficial if you have some knowledge about investing.

Knowing how to use the data they give you is important, so be familiar with investing tools and metrics.

Motley Fool Stock Advisor, on the other hand, offers specific beginning and monthly stock recommendations. If you are a newer investor, Stock Advisor is an excellent way to get your portfolio up-and-running. If you are an experienced investor, Stock Advisor stock picks are an excellent basis for your research. You can also gain insight into future trends and investments that you may have never considered.

The Motley Fool Stock Advisor can be better for casual investors that could use additional guidance with their investments.

What are the Main Differences?

  • Zacks offers detailed analyzing on stocks to help you choose strong ones for your portfolio, providing the necessary tools.
  • Motley Fool’s Stock Advisor examines stocks and suggests monthly picks based on a fundamental approach.

Each service differs to the point where both services can add value to your portfolio. However, there is enough overlap where you could get away with choosing one source of information.

Both services are excellent and accomplish the overall mission, which is to…

…make YOU a better investor!

So, Zacks Premium or Motley Fool Stock Advisor – which will you choose?

My preferred choice is with Motley Fool’s Stock Advisor because I don’t have the time to do research. I have been buying their picks since 2016 and they have done great for me! If that’s fit for you, gain access to an exclusive discount only available to Wall Street Survivor below:

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Next Motley Fool pick comes out July 18th.
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