Dividend investor Bill Spetrino claims he was able to turn a relatively small investment into millions of dollars using a “forgotten investment secret” over two decades ago.
And in 2009, he started an investment newsletter called The Dividend Machine to show others how to follow his strategy to achieve “absolute financial security.”
Sounds good, but is it legit?
And is the service really as good as he claims?
That’s what I wanted to know… so I joined the service myself to find out.
And in this review, I’ll show you what I discovered after joining, including how the stock picks Spetrino recommends have worked out, my thoughts on his newsletter, and more.
What Is The Dividend Machine?
The Dividend Machine is an investment newsletter edited by Bill Spetrino and published by Newsmax Media that focuses on dividend investing.
In the very first “welcome issue” of the newsletter, Spetrino states that his goal with the service is to help subscribers build their own personal “dividend machine,” which he likens to an ATM that can “spit out money” whenever you need it.
“Welcome to The Dividend Machine. My name is Bill Spetrino, and my goal with this newsletter service is to help you build your own personal ‘dividend machine’ — an income-generating investment portfolio that will spit out money for you whenever you need it, just like an ATM.”
Marketing gimmicks aside… Spetrino doesn’t push the idea of getting rich quickly in his newsletters. Overall, his approach is actually very conservative.
There is no such thing as a 100% “safe” investment, but The Dividend Machine is focused on finding low-risk, long-term, buy-and-hold value investments.
He basically looks for undervalued stocks that not only have the potential for long-term capital gains, but that can deliver consistent dividends.
And based on what he says in the member’s area, a core part of Spetrino’s approach involves reinvesting dividend income to create compound growth.
How does he find these stocks?
According to Bill Spetrino, he uses a “multi-step vetting process” to find businesses with a solid brand, strong balance sheet, lots of cash, and little or no debt, among other things.
“The companies that pass my rigorous multi-step vetting process must have a number of key characteristics. I seek out businesses with resonant brand names, a pristine balance sheet, a cash stash to help them survive and thrive in difficult markets, with little to no debt, and that are in an industry in which they hold a strong competitive advantage.”
At the end of the day, there is no guarantee that anyone’s strategy will help you make money in the market, let alone help you make millions, as Spetrino says he has done.
But this service has been around for well over a decade now, and the model portfolios you get access to as a subscriber of The Dividend Machine show that many of his recommendations are up.
So it stands to reason that he must be something right… right?
I’ll go into more detail about his stock picks shortly, so that you can make your own mind up on that. But first, let’s discuss the man behind the service, Bill Spetrino.
Who Is Bill Spetrino?
Bill Spetrino is an accountant turned stock picker who claims to have turned a small amount of money into millions of dollars using the same strategy he shares with his followers.
How successful has he been?
Well, according to the sales page I joined the service through, Spetrino started out investing with $9,000 and turned that into $7 million.
“So it might surprise you to learn that Bill is a millionaire.
“In fact he’s worth over $7 million and he started investing with just $9,000!
“Bill has been so successful using the investing approaches he discovered that he has lived 100% worry free since he retired at the age of 42.”Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20211206231612/https://w3.dividendmachine.com/Finance/TDM/Offers/TDM-Great-American-Dividend-Trial
However, Spetrino’s MoneyShow.com profile states that he turned $7,000 into $72 million.
Which one is correct?
I don’t know. I guess it’s possible he managed to 10x his net worth since the sales page was written (it does seem pretty old), but it’s impossible to know without asking Bill Spetrino himself. So it’s unclear how well his dividend “machine” has worked for him.
Either way, he does seem to have been successful as a dividend investor, and he doesn’t have a typical Wall Street background like most newsletter gurus I’ve come across.
According to a report he wrote in The Dividend Machine member’s area, Spetrino did a “brief stint at Citigroup” after graduating from college. But after deciding he didn’t want to be part of corporate America, he says he began teaching at a community college.
From there, he says he went on to sell a bunch of different products and work with his wife in an accounting business, before trying his hand at investing.
Long story short, Spetrino says he was able to retire at the age of 42 by “buying companies that were selling for well below their intrinsic value.”
Today, Spetrino is probably best known for his book (The Great American Dividend Machine), which was published in 2015, and the Dividend Machine newsletter service that I’m going to be discussing in more detail shortly.
At the end of the day, it’s difficult to verify how successful Bill Spetrino has (actually) been throughout his investing career since anyone can say virtually anything online.
And regardless of how knowledgeable someone is or how good a track record they have, I don’t think it’s wise to blindly follow anyone’s recommendations without doing your own due diligence, because there are no guarantees with investing.
But my research and what I’ve found as a member of his newsletter suggests that Bill Spetrino knows what he’s talking about when it comes to dividend investing.
Recommended: Go here to see my #1 rated stock advisory of 2023
Joining The Dividend Machine
Joining The Dividend Machine is a bit unusual in that the only way to sign up is to order a copy of his “Great American Dividend Machine” book at the discounted price of $4.95, and in doing so, you get a “bonus” three-month trial subscription to his newsletter.
There might be other pages you can join through, but that was the only one I could find, so I’m assuming I’ll be getting a copy of his book in the mail at some point.
I use the word “assuming” because after signing up, there is nothing mentioned about this book in the member’s area from what I can see.
In any case, $4.95 is a pretty good deal.
Although after the three-month trial has ended, the company (Newsmax) automatically bills you $114.95 for one year’s access to The Dividend Machine, which makes it more expensive than the average newsletter, all things considered.
Nevertheless, that’s the option I chose. And after putting my details in and hitting the “order” button, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were no annoying upsells to contend with after signing up, which is rare in the newsletter space.
That said, I was a bit shocked at how basic the member’s area was upon joining. It’s probably one of the most old-school, no-frills member areas I’ve come across…
Successful investing isn’t about bells and whistles, though.
What matters most, to me at least, is the content itself. So let’s discuss the monthly newsletters, and then I’ll walk you through the model portfolios.
Overview of the Monthly Newsletter
The monthly Dividend Machine newsletter is where Bill Spetrino shares his latest market outlook with subscribers, as well as his latest investment ideas and portfolio updates.
I haven’t been a member since the service began in 2009, but based on the newsletter issues I have read, Spetrino seems to focus most of his time discussing individual companies.
His approach is definitely that of a value investor.
Meaning, he focuses on evaluating individual stocks that he thinks are undervalued by analyzing the company’s industry, operations, competition, financials, etc.
He also seems to spend quite a bit of time updating his thoughts on companies he has already recommended, which makes sense given that this is a long-term-focused service where the portfolio positions don’t change very often.
Aside from sharing his research, Spetrino shares a “buy at or up to” price with subscribers, so that they know exactly what he’s recommending.
And he keeps subscribers in the loop about important things like upcoming dividend dates and updates on the model portfolio recommendations, which I’ll delve into now.
Analyzing the Model Portfolios
There are two main portfolios in the Dividend Machine member’s area:
- The Conservative Portfolio and;
- the Aggressive Portfolio.
As you may have guessed, the Conservative Portfolio is made up of the more conservative (i.e., lower risk) stocks that Bill Spetrino has recommended.
And in the Welcome Issue that you get access to as a subscriber, he states that these recommendations “should make up 90 percent of your overall portfolio.”
So the Conservative Portfolio is the main portfolio.
The “Aggressive Portfolio,” on the other hand, is made of more speculative ideas. And this is where Spetrino recommends subscribers put the remaining 10% of their portfolio.
How have his recommendations worked out?
Not everything Bill Spetrino has recommended has worked out, but his stock picks have done pretty well overall, especially the ones in the Conservative Portfolio.
Here’s a screenshot of both of the portfolios as of writing, which appear to have been last updated on December 30, 2022:
I’ve blurred out the tickers out of respect for the fact that it’s a paid service, but that’s how the “open” portfolios look in the member’s area as I write this (January 11, 2023).
As you can see above, there are only three losing picks in the Conservative Portfolio out of 17, and many of them are triple-digit gains, with one 10-bagger.
In other words, it’s done very well!
The “aggressive” portfolio, however, is a different story.
Half of those picks are down. So it’s probably a good thing that he only recommends that subscribers put a small portion of their portfolio (10%) into those picks.
In any case, those are all “open” (active) recommendations. So, in my opinion, looking at the above portfolios isn’t the best way to gauge the service’s overall track record.
What I prefer to do is look at the closed positions.
Unlike many newsletters I’ve joined, Spetrino shares all the closed positions he’s recommended, which makes it easy to see how the service has performed.
Granted, the table you get is just a screenshot rather than a sortable table, but based on what’s shown in the “sold positions” portfolio, many of his picks have done well.
Note that I had to share the following “sold positions” portfolio in two separate screenshots because there were so many positions that I couldn’t fit them into one image.
As you can see above, the “sold positions” consist of over a dozen losing picks, some of which are down 70% to 80% or more.
So as I said earlier, not everything Spetrino has recommended has worked out.
But there are a lot more winners than losers overall.
And surprisingly, none of the duds have been in the main “conservative” portfolio.
However… one thing you may have noticed by looking at the current Dividend Machine portfolios I shared above is that the majority of Bill Spetrino’s current stock picks are trading at prices above his recommended “buy at or under” price.
And that’s a huge bummer.
Why? Because it means you’d have to wait for the stocks to go down in price before being able to follow many of his recommendations… and this may never happen!
So, that’s a noteworthy drawback to consider, in my opinion.
Nevertheless, with the caveat that past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results, this is one of the better-performing portfolios I’ve come across.
Weekly Updates and Podcasts
Another great feature of The Dividend Machine service is the weekly written updates you receive, which keep you abreast of anything affecting the model portfolios.
Spetrino also releases podcasts in the member’s area, which serve a similar purpose.
As of writing, there are both weekly written updates and weekly videos (sound-only videos from Bill Spetrino). But based on the latest video, it seems as though this may be changing to bi-weekly. So the idea is that one week, it’ll be a written update, and the next, it will be a video. That seems to be the format it will take going forward, anyway.
In any case, this is a great addition to the service as it helps keep subscribers in the loop between the monthly newsletters (which are released at the start of every month).
Lastly, the member’s area contains numerous “special reports,” which is a fancy way of saying research reports and/or guides that Spetrino has put together.
There’s a lot to sink your teeth into here, so you may find these useful if you’re wanting to further your knowledge of Spetrino’s investment approach.
The reports cover Q&As, interviews he’s done, stocks he likes, macro topics, and information about his investment approach in general, among other things.
The Dividend Machine Pros and Cons
What I like:
- I like Bill Spetrino’s conservative investment approach of finding relatively low-risk, potentially undervalued dividend stocks with a view to building long-term wealth.
- You get a decent “bang for your buck” in terms of content.
- The model portfolios have done quite well over a relatively long period of time. This doesn’t guarantee you’ll make money as a subscriber, but it does give the service more credibility than most, in my opinion.
- You can try the service for $4.95 and get a copy of Spetrino’s book in the process, which makes giving the service a try very affordable.
- There were no immediate upsells or annoying ads inside the member’s area. Nor does Spetrino seem to engage in the typical mass-marketing hype like most newsletters. This is a huge plus in my book since spammy marketing is very common in this space.
- Once the service automatically renews after three months, there is a six-month refund policy in place, according to the order page I joined through.
What I don’t like:
- The member’s area is very basic and somewhat outdated. This probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but at the very least, it’d be nice if the portfolios were proper sortable tables (instead of jpegs) that were updated more regularly.
- There are lots of stocks currently sitting above Bill Spetrino’s “buy at or under” price targets, so newcomers who want to get started and build a portfolio will either have to wait for prices to come down (if ever) or only follow some of his picks. I would say that this is probably the biggest downside of the service overall.
The Dividend Machine is a decent newsletter, and based on what I’ve discussed in this review, I’d say it’s one that many income-focused investors would be pleased with.
As I just pointed out, there are some things I’m not keen on, and not everything Spetrino has recommended has worked out well, but it is a legitimate newsletter.
And hopefully, what I’ve shared in this post will help you make a more informed choice about whether or not you want to give the service a try.
So if you’re looking for other newsletter ideas, be sure to check out some of my other content. That way, you can compare different services before deciding.
Anyway, that’s it from me!
I hope you’ve found this helpful, and I wish you the best of success.