David’s Articles

David has been writing and publishing since 2006.  

Book Review – There’s Always Something to Do

Feb 10, 2015 | Reflections

Just finished reading the book “There’s always something to do.”   This book is a great profile of Canadian value-investor Peter Cundill.   A great read about an investor I knew little about.

A few basics of his approach:

  • Very focused on margin of safety.  Loved looking at “net-nets”, where there was balance sheet value ahead of equity value.
  • Feels like that disciplined value process should generate returns in the teens over time if you are patient
  • Appointed a devil’s advocate on the research team after a bad experience w/ group think
  • Was early in looking international.  Used to visit country with worst performing stock market in prior 12 months each November
  • Full of joie de vivre, sounds like quiet a character
  • Still living, but sadly had to retire b/c of a rare neurological disorder.  Seems to be a great reminder to seize each day with gusto

Cundill Snipits:

  • “my primary objective is to make money for my clients and then to make my business profitable.  I believe that the way to achieve this is through associating with truly competent people with unshakeable business integrity, to ensure strict financial controls, a culture of thoroughness, a measured capacity for action.  What I am beginning to perceive is that investors tend to follow trends and fashion rather than taking the trouble to look for value.”
  • “Once the analysis is complete and you have the reached the firm conviction that the investment is right, you should not try to be too clever about the purchase price.  If you have to take a loss do it decisively, don’t dither.  Learn the lessons and then forget about it.”
  • “The fund would automatically sell half of any given position when it doubled…with the fund manager then left with full discretion as to when to sell the balance.”
  • “None of the great investments come easily.  There is almost always a major blip for whatever reason and we have learnt to expect it and not to panic.”
  • “Intellectually active people are particularly attractive to elegant concepts, which can have the effect of distracting them from the simpler, more fundamental, truths”
  • “Every company ought to have an escape valve: inventory that can be readily reduced, a division that can be sold, a marketable investment portfolio, an ability to shed staff.  However, no escape valve will provide a cushion in the face of a collapse in investor confidence.”


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