With "Value," Only the Patient Survive

by: John Bethel

If you've been managing your own portfolio for a while, you've almost certainly had times when your investment style left a lot to be desired on the brokerage statement.

Like most every practitioner of the value style, my gains in the late 1990s badly trailed those investors hoarding internet stocks.

I wasn't alone, of course, as this from Chet Currier's latest Bloomberg piece illustrates:

At Martin Whitman's Third Avenue Value Fund, for instance, data published by researcher Morningstar Inc. show assets shrank from about $1.7 billion at the end of 1997 to $1.4 billion two years later. At last report here in 2006, they had soared to $8.7 billion. The fund has gained more than 11 percent a year over the past five years, about 10 times the 1.2 percent annual return registered by the S&P 500.

Another example during the period was Jean-Marie Eveillard, manager of First Eagle Funds until his retirement last year. His clients withdrew approximately 50% of their money because he refused to put their money in internet and tech stocks.

Fortunately, Eveillard was proven right by the time he left the business.

Value has been "in" this decade -- so far. But it won't be forever. Then again, at least I'm just running my own humble amount of money.