Sunday, February 7, 2016

Speziale, Market Masters

Canadians complain, and rightly so, that Americans pay them no mind. For instance, we can name scores of famous U.S. investors, but we’ve never heard of the leading Canadian investors. Robin R. Speziale helps fill this void with his 600-page Market Masters: Proven Investing Strategies You Can Apply: Interviews with Canada’s Top Investors (ECW Press, 2016). The only non-Canadian investor included is Bill Ackman, deemed to be “almost an honorary Canadian, since he’s been heavily involved in the Canadian market through three large and notable plays: Wendy’s/Tim Hortons, Canadian Pacific Railway, and Valeant.” (p. 451) Of course, in the case of his Valeant investment, Ackman’s “Canadian love affair” has been anything but happy.

In six parts—value (and sometimes contrarian), growth, fundamental (a mix of value and growth), macro (top-down), systematic (or technical), and other styles—Speziale shares 26 conversations. He then summarizes what he calls “master keys,” the most important things he learned from the market masters.

These interviews often repeat the old saws of investing, but here and there the reader catches a glimpse into the sweat equity that goes into running a fund, especially in trying times. Ryaz Shariff is a case in point. He is a commodity investor who has had to expand beyond his core area of expertise (the junior and mid-size mining market) to survive the prolonged commodities bear market. His interview is full of insights into the necessity of a hands-on approach in under-followed areas of the commodities market as well as into the nature of commodity cycles.

Throughout the book, the reader is privy to the range of biographical arcs that resulted in these men and women adopting their particular styles of investing and the skills critical to a becoming top investor.

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