As you know I am always on the look out for investors that know what they are talking about and with successful long term track records to back it up.
During my recent holiday in South Africa I met with a person with lifelong investment experience. Just to give you an idea I subscribed to his investment newsletter Pennywise shortly after I started investing in 1988.
Alan and I had a long and interesting conversation.
After saying goodbye I immediately thought Alan was someone I want to introduce you to, especially if you follow or are interested in the South African markets.
He writes a really good monthly newsletter that you can subscribe to free of charge.
Before I give you the details here is a bit of background information on Alan.
Since 2004 Alan has been a director and shareholder in Robert Cowen Investments (Pty) Ltd, a company that looks after 120 South African families’ investments.
They also run a successful unit Trust, RCI Flexible Managed.
In Alan’s words:
“We provide people with great retirements by investing in shares with a high and growing dividend income stream which normally out paces inflation with resultant capital growth. We give our clients individual attention, provide family continuity and we have NO call centre.”
Alan qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1980. While working for Nedbank (one of the big four banks in South Africa), he developed a love for investment and read every book on the subject in the Johannesburg Library.
In 1984, after work, he started his “Pennywise” newsletter on cheap shares and from 1986 followed his passion to become a stockbroker at Ed Hern, Rudolph Inc.
Within a few years, he was rated the top banking analyst, the second best life insurance analyst and was managing one of the top-rated research teams on the JSE.
He considers himself lucky to have found a job ideally suited to his analytical abilities and passion for investing.
In 1995, Ed Hern, Rudolph Inc was sold to BOE Natwest (a small listed bank and trust company) where Alan worked for three years.
He then, in 1999, listed his small cap investment company Pennystocks (I was also an investor) on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
Within two years he was forced to sell to a big institution (they bought the majority of the shares and took the company private) at the bottom of the small cap market in terms of valuation. “It really hurt losing money for clients in that way” Alan mentioned.
Alan returned to institutional stock-broking at Citibank for three years but corporate life lost its appeal saying he wanted to make a difference, and do something meaningful. So he bought into Robert Cowen where he works with two like-minded business partners where they definitely make a difference in their clients’ lives.
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Alan mentioned that investment is simple in concept, but that does not make it easy to do as it is against human nature.
He uses a number of different investment styles but he prefers to buy great quality companies, steady growers at a discount and then be patient. He uses both value and sentiment indicators to try to help him buy near the bottom and lighten up near the top.
Just like me Alan loves investing saying:
“After all these years I still love investing, it’s a never ending game with an ever-changing background. In 2011 I turned 53 and I see myself doing this for at least another fifteen years.”
Back to the free newsletter offer.
Past issues of Alan’s newsletter can be found here:
Robert Cowen Investments Newsletter
Look at the October 2009 newsletter with the article “Mrs Robinson” or the February 2010 issue comparing the price increases in the menu of a fast-food restaurant over the past 27 years with the share price of Standard Bank (the largest bank in South Africa). I don’t want to spoil it but shares of the bank beat inflation hands down.
Should you want to subscribe to Alan’s monthly newsletter simply send him a short email at email@example.com.