R.I.P. Peter Cundill

By Dan Hallett, CFA, CFP

I had received a couple of calls this week telling me that Peter Cundill had passed away.  This was confirmed today when another contact today sent me his online obituary.  Peter suffered from a debilitating disease called Fragile X, the symptoms of which are quite ironic given how cerebral and physically active he was.  I didn’t know him personally but by all accounts he was one of the good guys.  And many investors were enriched on the back of his talent for picking stocks.

For most people, this was done through the original Cundill Value A fund.  Started in 1974, the fund was unique in its focus on giving Canadians access to a portfolio of global stocks.  Through his strict adherence to the principles of Ben Graham and David Dodd, he amassed an enviable track record of performance, known for capturing much of the market’s upside while offering great protection in tougher times.  We extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends.  For investors, Peter mentored many talented money managers including Tim McElvaine, Wade Burton, Alan Pasnik and many people who remain at Mackenzie Cundill Investment Management.

It has been a long time since much was heard directly from Peter.  Fortunately, a webpage I bookmarked in 1998 when I began recommending Cundill Value fund is still online today.  So a candid description of Peter’s investment style and its evolution can be found on the Outstanding Investment Digest website’s account of the Cundill Investment Conference.  A more recent piece of work, however, is slated for a February 1, 2011 release.  Prior to his death, a book on his investing style was completed.  There’s Always Something To Do:  The Peter Cundill Investment Approach will be out next week.

   
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2 comments to R.I.P. Peter Cundill

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bryan Borzykowski, Dan Hallett. Dan Hallett said: R.I.P. Peter Cundill http://thewealthsteward.com/2011/01/r-i-p-peter-cundill/ [...]

  • From the Globe & Mail’s David Berman…

    Peter Cundill’s last interview.

    What was your best investment ever?
    One of the best investments I have ever made was Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., on the face of it a boring old iron ore company based in Cleveland that specialized in producing iron ore pellets. In the ’80s, Cliffs had 40% of the pellet market in North America, but in a stock market environment where everyone was focusing on growth stocks, the share price more than halved. No one cared that it had what I like to call extra assets in the form of a power plant in Michigan, which was held at a very low value on the balance sheet. I bought and bought as the price went on dropping, and there seemed to be an endless supply of stock. Finally it ran out and the bull market of ’86-’87 carried Cliffs to levels where I was able to sell a good deal of the position at a substantial profit. The icing on the cake was the crash of October ’87 that allowed me to buy back all I’d sold plus a bit and do it all over again.

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