Thursday, November 22, 2012

Book review: Investing Against the Tide

Anthony Bolton earned a stellar reputation as the manager of Fidelity's Special Situations Fund. Against the Tide is Bolton's recount of his investment approach and some of the techniques used in managing investments.

The material covers basic principles in assessing the merits of a company's shares and the techniques for selecting individual investments (both to buy and to sell). As a general statement, the principles were well stated but did not offer anything new. Everything contained in the book (apart from Bolton's personal observations and experiences) has been well flagged by others. As an example, the benefits of investing in companies which have strong franchises,  the risks of owning companies with high gearing and the preference for buying shares at "valuation anomalies" to obtain a margin of safety. These are all mantras that have been repeated by others.

What I did find interesting was the addition of technical analysis to fundamental analysis and the behavioral aspects of "Twelve qualities that make a good portfolio manager".

One thing that struck me as odd was the heavy emphasis on direct meetings with company management. Obviously, these are not available to retail investors like myself and it is somewhat irksome to have the utility of such meetings to professionals regarded as being of high importance. While there is nothing illegal in such meetings (no insider information should be passed), it would make for a more level playing field if such meetings were either banned or done my conference call where all interested persons could join.

Succinctly written but no new insights.


Anonymous said...

I don't know what Anthony Bolton does with Fidelity investments in Asia, all I can say is that it has been absolute atrocious with the way they invest last few years in HK.

traineeinvestor said...

By all accounts, things have not gone well for the fund he is managing at the moment. Of course, given euity returns in the PRC generally over the last few years, that is hardly surprising.


Nice book review.