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Monday 23 April 2012

There's Always Something To Do - (Peter Cundill) written by Christopher Risso-Gill: Part I

I am currently reading There's Always Something To Do written by Christopher Risso-Gill. It is written on the life and value investment approach of the famous Peter Cundill, the founder of the Cundill Value Fund. Peter Cundill derived his approach from Graham & Dodd and included learnings from his informal mentor, Sir John Templeton and was one of the few extremely successful international investors.

What I am really loving about this book is that its taken from the copious journals maintained by Peter Cundill, so provides a first hand account of the thought process that an investor goes through. Typically, all other books by fund managers are written post-facto and are guilty, to some extent atleast, of hindsight bias. Here, the I could feel the dilemma that Cundill goes through at various points in his investing journey which I can related to very closely.

Here are some excerpts from the book:-

What I am beginning to perceive is that investors tend to follow trends and fashion rather than taking the trouble to look for value. This must offer opportunity for the professional investment manager, as a result of the short term mispricing of securities.
I think intelligent forecasting (company revenues, earnings, etc.) should not seek to predict what will happen in the future. its purpose ought to be to illuminate the road, to point out obstacles and potential pitfalls and so assist management to tailor events and to bend them in a desired direction. 
I believe that there is probably one opportunity in every man's life which demands his knowledge, his guts, his self-esteem and his judgment. If he seizes it with both hands and it is successful, he joins the first rank, if not he remains a mortal with feet of clay.
Some insights near the beginning of his career:
  • Management's ability to predict earnings is universally poor
  • It is the strategic modelling behind the portfolio that matters most.
  • One needs to develop a sense of spaced maturities in a common stock portfolio in a way that is comparable to a bond portfolio.
  • In a macro sense it may be more useful to spend time analysing industries instead of national or international economies.
I will follow up on more excerpts as I continue reading. So, stay tuned.

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