Founder of "The Contrarian", a premium research service, featuring the "Bet The Farm" Portfolio. Actively investing since 1995, I have soared like an eagle, and been unmercifully humbled by the markets. Achieved positive returns in 2008, and turned an account with $60,310 on 1/1/2009 into an account with $3,177,937 on 11/30/2009. My best years have been 1995-2003, 2008-2012, and 2016-????. My worst years were 2013-2015. I believe inflation is coming, and we are at an inflection point in the markets.
Twenty year career as an investment analyst, investor, portfolio manager, consultant, and writer. Founder of Koldus Contrarian Investments, Ltd, which was incorporated in the spring of 2009. Dyed in the wool contrarian investor, who has learned, the hard way, that a good contrarian is only contrarian 20% of the time, but being right at key inflection points is the key to meaningful wealth creation in the markets. I believe we are near a meaningful inflection point, perhaps the biggest one yet, for the third time in the past 15 years.
Historically, I have had huge wins and impressive losses based on a concentrated, contrarian strategy. Trying to keep the good while filtering out the bad.
Seeking to run an all weather portfolio with minimal volatility and index overlays to capture my strategic and tactical recommendations along with a concentrated best ideas portfolio, which is my bread and butter, but the volatility only makes it suitable for a small piece of an investor's overall portfolio. The following are a couple of my favorite investment quotes.
"Life and investing are long ballgames." Julian Robertson
"A diamond is a chunk of coal that is made good under pressure."
"Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." Albert Einstein
I’ve been on top of the world, and the world has been on top of me. I have learned to enjoy the perspective from each view, and use opportunities to persistently acquire knowledge, and enjoy the company of those around me, especially loved ones, family, and friends.
At heart, I am a market historian with an unrivaled passion for the capital markets. I have had a long history and specialization with concentrated positions and options trading. Made money in 2008 with a net long portfolio, deploying capital in some of the market's darkest hours into long positions including purchases of American Express, Atlas Energy, Crosstex, First Industrial Real Estate, General Growth Properties, Genworth, Macquarie Infrastructure, Ruth Chris Steakhouse, and Vornado near their lows. Shorting, hedging, and option strategies also helped me in 2007 and 2009, and these are skills that I have developed ever since I started trading heavily in 1996.I enjoy reading, accumulating knowledge, and putting this knowledge to work in the active capital markets, learning lessons along the way.To this day, I continue to learn, and some of these learning lessons have been excruciatingly difficult ones, especially over the past several years, as I made mistakes allocating capital, including a sizable portion of my own capital (I always invest alongside my clients), to commodity related stocks. While all commodity related stocks have struggled since April of 2011, coal companies, which attracted me due to their extremely cheap valuations, and out-of-favor status (I am a strong believer in behavioral finance alongside fundamentals and technicals) have been the worst investing mistake of my career. The focus on the commodity arena has been the biggest mistake of my investment career thus far, yet in its aftermath, I see tremendous opportunity, even larger in scope than the fortuitous 2008/2009 environment.The capital that I accumulated and the confidence gained in navigating the treacherous investment waters of 2008 gave me the confidence to launch my own investment firm in the spring of 2009, right before the ultimate lows in the stock market. At the time I was working as a senior analyst at one of the largest RIA's in the country, and I felt strongly that the market environment was the best time since 1974/1975 to start an investment firm.
Prior to starting my firm, I was a senior analyst for three different firms over approximately 10 years (Charles Schwab, Redwood, Oxford), moving up in responsibility and scope at each stop along my journey. Since I was a paperboy, I have always had an interest in the investment markets. I love researching and finding opportunities. I am a Chartered Financial Analyst, CFA, as well as a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst, CAIA. After starting in the teaching program at Ball State University, I switched to a career in finance when I turned a small student loan into a substantial amount of capital. I graduated summa cum laude with a degree in finance from Ball State.
Full disclosure, I am not currently a registered investment advisor, though I did serve in this capacity from 2009-2014, while owning Koldus Contrarian Investments, Ltd. Additionally, I held various securities licenses from 2000-2014, without a single complaint filed, and I continue to hold industry designations. At the end of 2014, I voluntarily let my state registration expire, as I transitioned the business to a different structure. At the time, I was in the midst of a difficult two-year plus divorce (my ex-wife left for another relationship) and custody battle, which occupied a lot of my time. Prior to this, I had passed, and held, various securities exams and licenses, including the Series 7, Series 63, and Series 65 exams, in addition to others, alongside my CFA and CAIA designations. Unfortunately, I did not file the proper paperwork to withdraw my state registration, and I did not disclose a personal arrangement, and subsequent civil case, between myself and a former close personal friend and client, that was initiated in 2011. I was unaware that I was required to disclose these items, and my securities attorney, at the time, did not advise me to do so. Previously, I had managed a portfolio for this gentleman, and we had taken an investment of approximately $7 million in 2009, and grown it to over $25 million at the beginning of 2012. After a difficult year of performance, an employee of the firm I owned, and friend, resigned in early 2013, and took the aforementioned client to a competing firm. As a result of not filing the proper paperwork, I agreed to a settlement, with a potential $2500 fine in the future, depending on if I choose to reapply to be a non-exempt advisor.
Ian Bezek worked for 3 years as an analyst at a New York-based hedge fund. He's currently living in Mexico, pursuing some entrepreneurial opportunities. He also assists Carden Capital with market analysis and strategic marketing.
Feel free to contact him regarding investments, writing, or speaking opportunities.
Who I Am:
I'm a retired individual investor. I retired at the end of 2013 after a 35 year career as a professor and research scientist at a major research university. My professional life involved multiple international projects and collaborations, so I traveled extensively over those 35 years. I plan to continue doing so in my retirement.
My investing priorities are building and refining portfolios designed to provide income and capital growth: Income for my retirement needs, and capital growth for my estate. My investing philosophy tends toward the long-term, value side of the spectrum, but I'm not opposed to occasional flings on attractive, speculative opportunities.
My investing interests are tax-advantaged income from a range of sources, portfolio strategies, information- and bio-technology, and momentum-based strategic allocation.
Why I Write for Seeking Alpha:
I learned long ago that "writing is nature's way of letting you know how sloppy your thinking is." The line comes from a Guindon comic strip of many years ago, and could not be more true in my case. When I did research professionally, I learned that writing it up forces me to think about details I might otherwise overlook. It's how I spent my working career, so it comes more or less naturally to me. I consider it an essential part and parcel of doing any research. So, the writing I do here is as much for myself as for the reader.
As I started to contribute articles here, they grew out of research for my personal investment portfolios. They're based on things I've uncovered that are of interest to me and may be of interest to others of like mind. For many more-seasoned investors some of the things I write about are old-hat. My primary purposes in writing them are to help clarify my thinking and to get feedback from others who may have very different opinions. It's those thoughtful comments that make Seeking Alpha such an important resource. To that end, I try to actively engage myself in the comment streams in my articles, contributing what I can and learning from others.
As a research scientist I spent a career spanning four decades devoted to free exchange of information vetted by rigorous peer review. It's a concept I firmly believe in. I hope to bring that approach to my interactions and contributions on Seeking Alpha and welcome critical commentary on anything I may contribute here.
I encourage and welcome your comments. I try to respond to most insights, elaborations, and questions to the best of my ability. I especially encourage and appreciate thoughtful comments from those who disagree with me (although I tend to ignore obvious trolls and encourage others to do so as well). So, go ahead, start a conversation in the comment threads. It's one of the best things about Seeking Alpha.
My Investment Philosophies and Strategies:
I maintain two portfolios. My income portfolio is a taxable account. I try to keep it separate from the growth portfolio which is housed in a series of IRAs, traditional and Roth.
My income focus is on tax-advantaged income. In 2016 I face minimum required withdrawals from my tax-deferred accounts, so tax efficiency is an important consideration.With the need to take withdrawals I expect to shift my taxable accounts to more growth-focused (unrealized cap gains) investments. Making this shift while retaining income is my overarching priority for 2015. To that end, I expect to be generating more of my income from options as I gradually phase out my high-yield investments.
The IRAs I see as my estate and are focused on generational wealth building. That means the growth portfolios have a very long term horizon, well beyond what an investor of my age might be expected to maintain.
I am a believer in the precepts of MPT (Modern Portfolio Theory). I'm aware that MPT doesn't get a lot of respect by some of the DIY investors at Seeking Alpha. My readings in the field indicate to me that the research solidly supports the overall MPT approaches to investing. So, I am a believer in diversification. Not the sort of diversification that means I hold equity positions in every sector; the sort that means I hold positions in the full spectrum of asset classes with a watchful eye on correlations and a willingness to rebalance among asset classes, even when it goes against my gut feelings. By asset classes, I mean high level asset classes: Domestic and international equity, sovereign and corporate debt, emerging markets (equity and debt), real estate, commodities and so forth. I try to adapt that approach to both my income and growth investing.
Who Is Left Banker?
Ah yes, the name. When I first joined Seeking Alpha I had no intention of being anything but an occasional reader. I saw it as another research site. So, I just ported a name I've used on other sites. I spent some of the best times of my life living on the left bank of the Seine and am always thrilled to be back in La Belle Paris. It refers, too, to the left bank of the Gironde where some of my favorite wines are produced. When I'm feeling particularly flush, they're one of the splurges I'll treat myself to. So there is a major place in my heart for both common references for Left Banker.
Add that I also like it because I find several subtle word plays there; I'll leave it to you to decipher that comment.
I've chosen to remain anonymous. First, I have no professional role in finance and nothing to sell, so there is no advantage to be gained by "making a name for myself' here. Second, I value my privacy and have kept my internet presence as low-key as my professional life allowed. I certainly want to avoid any possibility of some internet connection trying to track me down. Odds against that happening are, of course, outrageously long, but why take them on at all?
I have no ties to the financial or security industries in any form. My interests are strictly personal. The banker part of the nym has absolutely no relationship to the profession of the same name.
Readers should be aware that I am an investing novice, some might say dilettante. I do not give advice; what I publish is much more in line with a research notebook. Anyone who finds anything of interest will necessarily want to do his or her complete research and due diligence. It would be foolish to rely on my conclusions without having done so.
I am a retired engineer with a PhD in Engineering Science (mostly exotic math) together with a Masters in Statistics. I currently manage my website www.superchargeretirementincome.com, where I use my math background to select high-return, low-volatility investments. I also love teaching so I also provide a number of tutorials about all aspects of investing. I am an avid reader and have read just about every book I could find on the stock market. I am still learning so I welcome comments and suggestions. Over the years I have learned that there is no “holy grail”; you cannot receive a good return without taking risks. However, you can choose your investments to reduce risks and those are the kind of investments I like to make. Although financial markets are my passion, engineering is my profession. I have spent the last 30+ years as a program manager at a large aerospace company, working on improving defenses for our U.S. Army customers.
Steven Bavaria writes about finance, economics and politics, drawing on his forty-five years experience in international banking, credit, investment, human resources/training, journalism and public service. Now retired from his "day job" on Wall Street, Bavaria lives mostly off his investments. His focus is largely on income-oriented stocks, bonds and mutual funds, as well as closed-end funds, ETFs and other IRA-suitable investments. His book "Too Greedy for Adam Smith: CEO Pay and the Demise of Capitalism" was just published and is available on Amazon and at independent retailers.
Bavaria began his career at the Bank of Boston, where he handled international credit workouts that included managing a fleet of ships, chasing a Vatican-owned bank in Switzerland, and leading the turnaround of troubled branches in Australia and Panama. He also ran the bank's human resources department, which is where he saw personally the beginnings of many of today's executive compensation excesses.
More recently he worked at Standard & Poor's, where he introduced ratings to the leveraged loan market. In between Bank of Boston and S&P he was Assoc. Commissioner of the Massachusetts Dept. of Mental Health, worked briefly for Citibank, and was a reporter for IDD Magazine. He also did a short stint at a smaller rating agency where he had to leave in a hurry after writing an article called "From Banker to Bookmaker" that was deemed a bit too candid in describing the conflicted role of major commercial and investment banks.
Bavaria graduated from Georgetown University and New England School of Law.
Chris DeMuth Jr. is the founder of Rangeley Capital LLC. Rangeley is an investment firm that focuses on event driven, value-oriented investment opportunities. Rangeley Capital and his value investing forum, Sifting the World (StW), search the world for misplaced bets. Rangeley exploits them for its investors and then Mr. DeMuth writes about them on StW.
Tom Vaughan was 12-years old when his math teacher gave each student $3,000 of Monopoly money to buy and sell stocks. He was told that, at the end of three months, the students with the top returns would be given a special field trip.
Growing up in Silicon Valley and watching the tremendous wealth created by the stocks of some of the world’s greatest companies, inspired him to learn about investing in the stock market. He went home and told his parents about this contest, and they took him to see his grandfather, who was an avid stock market investor. He sat Tom down with the stock listing from the local paper, showing him what he looks for in a good stock. Together they picked three stocks to buy and then they would meet every week to track the progress. This was the genesis of Tom’s life-long interest in investing.
At the end of the contest, they lined the students up on the playground by rate of return. Tom was at the front of the line. He had won the contest. Interestingly enough, the special field trip that he qualified for was a trip to Alcatraz. This is an interesting place to take a budding financial professional. Perhaps, more of our country’s financial professionals should have started this way.
His grandfather was so excited by his interest in investing that they continued to work together on Tom’s investing education. Unfortunately, only two years after helping Tom win the investing contest, his grandfather passed away. He had lost his investing mentor.
Tom then saw what happened to his grandmother. His grandparents had a traditional relationship. Tom’s grandfather handled all of the money and his grandmother was given an allowance to handle the household needs. Although Tom’s grandfather was one of the best investors he have ever met, his grandmother did not have any idea what was in her portfolio and when his grandfather passed, away chaos ensued. He was determined at a young age to help people with investing advice. His advice and outlook has always reflected having his grandmother as his first client.
In 1987, he went to work for a Wall St. investment firm called First Investors. Anyone with a conscience will only last a few years at a firm like this. For example, the firm had its own mutual funds. Everyone worked on a straight commission and the firm would pay twice as much commission if you sold one of its funds versus another company’s funds. The pressure from management to sell these funds regardless of how they performed was intense. This was not a place for his grandmother’s portfolio.
He left and started his own firm, Retirement Capital Strategies (RCS). He selected LPL Financial to clear his business because they did not have any of their own investments, thus reducing the conflict of interest. As his own boss, he did not have to worry about pressure from management to put the wrong things in his clients’ portfolios.
This concept of independent, no conflict of interest, client-first financial advice was wildly successful. RCS was one on the fastest growing Financial Planning and Money Management firms in the country. RCS eventually ended up with three offices in San Jose, Danville and Napa. Over a 26-year period, Tom personally performed over 6,000 financial plans and managed hundreds of millions in assets for over 700 clients. His advice on this website is based on the extensive experience of working with these real life clients.
Over time, he was still dissatisfied with the massive conflicts of interest that exist in the financial advice industry as it stands today.
He saw an opportunity to create a completely new conflict-free, low-cost advice model. He decided to risk everything, cash out of his Financial Planning practice, and show people how to become self-sufficient investors.
By closely watching the investment advisory business, he saw an opportunity to help self-sufficient investors by creating a conflict free, no market-timing set of investment newsletters that contain portfolios of the lowest cost ETFs for the self-sufficient investor to replicate. He also gives ongoing advice on when to replace a portion of the portfolio with a better alternative, when to perform a rebalancing, and educational information on the Remonsy Retirement Income Builder program. All of this advice is designed to help you improve your retirement and help you become a more self-sufficient investor.
The same advice that he charged his clients an average of $4,000 per year is now available in his newsletters.
Young finance professional interested in constructing trading systems. I program in R, and am interested in finding ways of systematically creating alpha. Right now, I'm learning the quantstrat R package, which is a ridiculously powerful backtesting package, created for and used on the research desk of a high-frequency algorithmic trader running the algo-trading desk of a large broker-dealer in Chicago.
Frank Grossmann (founder and partner of logical-invest.com)
I am Swiss and living in Zurich. I studied Microtechnics at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and Business Administration at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. After the studies in 1989 I founded Labocontrol AG. This company was sold to the US company Digital Now Inc. where I continued to work as a chief scientist.
Since 13 years I have my own software company Colour-Science.com which develops algorithms for digital image processing. These algorithms do things like image enhancement, red eye removal or pattern (face) detection. My passion however was always to search for pattern in financial data and then develop and back test rule based investment strategies.
My principal interests include: 1) tracking large non-Gaussian deviations in transaction volumes, 2) atypical trading activity, in derivatives markets, and 3) volatility forecasting during periods of high event risk and flow-induced trading.
I'm a value investor focused on buying companies trading below the intrinsic value.
I've a back ground in engineering & finance. I'm also a Chartered Financial Analyst. I did my MBA from Emory University's Goizueta School of Business
Chris Ciovacco is the founder and CEO of Ciovacco Capital Management (CCM), an independent money management firm serving individual investors nationwide. The thoroughly researched and backtested CCM Market Model answers these important questions: (1) How much should we allocate to risk assets?, (2) How much should we allocate to conservative assets?, (3) What are the most attractive risk assets?, and (4) What are the most attractive conservative assets?
Chris is an expert in identifying the best ETFs from a wide variety of asset classes, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and precious metals. The CCM Market Model compares over 130 different ETFs to identify the most attractive risk-reward opportunities.
Chris graduated summa cum laude from The Georgia Institute of Technology with a co-operative degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering. Prior to founding Ciovacco Capital Management in 1999, Mr. Ciovacco worked as a Financial Advisor for Morgan Stanley in Atlanta for five years earning a strong reputation for his independent research and high integrity. While at Georgia Tech, he gained valuable experience working as a co-op for IBM (1985-1990). During his time with Morgan Stanley, Chris received extensive training which included extended stays in NYC at the World Trade Center.
His areas of expertise include technical analysis and market model development. CCM’s popular weekly technical analysis videos on YouTube have been viewed over 700,000 times. Chris’ years of experience and research led to the creation of the thoroughly backtested CCM Market Model, which serves as the foundation for the management of separate accounts for individuals and businesses.
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I am currently a retired Aerospace Engineer. I am married with three children and eight grandchildren. I was born in San Francisco, CA in 1949 and moved to Newport News, VA in 1951 where I lived until I went to college. By God's grace, I received a B.S. degree from Virginia Tech (1972), a M.S. degree from Caltech (1973), and a M.A. - Biblical Studies degree from Birmingham Theological Seminary (2013). I worked at Pratt & Whitney (1973-1986) and CFD Research Corporation (1987-2008).
Now in retirement and trying to preserve my life savings, I currently have a strong interest in tactical asset allocation strategies, and have studied them extensively. I have developed a number of tactical strategies involving the periodic trading of ETFs and, more recently, mutual funds. These strategies have been backtested mainly using Portfolio Visualizer and ETFreplay software. The goal is to earn 10-15% annually with no negative years, and to have maximum drawdowns of less than 10%, preferably less than 5%. The strategies include purchasing a limited number of funds with the highest growth and lowest volatility, and minimizing risk using moving average, dual momentum, and risk parity methods. I have developed strategies for equity as well as bond assets.
Daniel Moore is the creator of FinancialRelativity.com, a web portal created for the purpose of tracking the status of financial markets and providing investment analysis and portfolio management insights to investors. Based on the systematic investment research, he writes about the market and publishes his views through internet market publications. He has over 25 years of management experience in corporate finance in a variety of high technology start-ups and public companies. A graduate of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in 1988, he has spent the last 10 years managing investment portfolios seeking high risk reward returns for fixed income investors.
David Zanoni is ranked in the top 1% of blogging analysts on Tipranks.com for performance and accuracy. He focuses on growth & momentum stocks that are reasonably priced and likely to outperform the market over the long-term. David is a graduate of Rutgers University with a B.S. in Management. He is an independent long term investor of quality stocks and uses options for strategy. David believes in the power of innovation, capitalism, and the characteristics of the American spirit: intellect, fortitude, and adaptability to lead our country and the world to growing prosperity. His wants to help make people money by investing in high-quality growth stocks.