This was a tough year for less active Portfolio Managers. Generally, the more active managers amongst us fared reasonably well, while the buy and hold types did not do quite so well. Click here to see our performance page updated to end of November. I believe that readers who take the time to view that page will glean some evidence to the merit of an active management approach.
Today, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at my BNN top picks for the year in 2018. I note the date of the show and the rounded prices (up or down) on each pick – and if it’s been sold, or if we still hold it. I note current prices if it hasn’t been sold. A couple of things to understand about these picks: the prices on the date of the show are usually not the prices we paid at ValueTrend. I tend to take stocks that we already own for my picks. It’s that “eat your own cooking” idea. That idea, BTW, is an important policy of the way I manage money. Our in-house models are literally reflections of my personal accounts, and I have 100% of my personal wealth in the ValueTrend models. I eat my own cooking, and I fare only as well as our clients do.
One other note: sometimes I will repeat a past pick on my picks if the price has come down a bit when I’m about to go onto the show. For the purpose of this study, I left these repeats out of the list. You will see the original pick date and its price on that date.
January 8, 2018
Vermillion VET-T $43 Now $33
BMO US Bank ETF ZUB-T $30. (sold May 4 $29.81) Sold
Brookfield BAM-T $44 Now $58
Feb 5th 2018
SPDR Consumer Disc. XLP-US- $56 (sold Sept 15 @ $54.16) Sold
GIB.A-T – $71 Now $84
April 2, 2018
Blackberry BB-T $15 Now $11.60
June 6, 2018
Fairfax FFH-T $722 Now $640
Bectin Dickinson BDX-US $231 Now $253
July 9, 2018
Repeat picks from above
August 24, 2018
Manulife MFC-T $24 Now $22
Bank of Nova Scotia BNS-T $78 Now $72
September 26, 2018
SNC Lavalin SNC-T $53 Now $49
BCE Inc BCE-T $53 Now $57
November 1, 2018
Oracle ORCL-US $48 Now $50
Microsoft MSFT-US $106 Now $112
As I said, it has been an interesting year. The BNN picks reflect how we migrated the market gyrations this year. The fact that we held 23% cash was paramount. The stock picks also reflect that we rotated some of our existing stocks into somewhat safer low-beta positions like XLP, BAM, and BCE . Finally, we held some decently trending stocks like GIB.A, MSFT, and BDX–of which did quite well despite the investment climate.
Like any strategy, you get your lumps at times – and we certainly did take a licking on a few of the BNN picks via BB, VET, BNS and FFH. It might be of use to know that BB and VET are both minor positions in our Equity Platform (less than 3% each) – so the giant gyrations on those two stocks had far less impact on the portfolio than you might imagine. We have plans on selling BNS and VET as the seasonal periods end for their sectors this winter, and we expect that FFH will ultimately bounce from its long proven point of support near current prices. Blackberry is a small aggressive play for us, and we are playing it by ear.
All in, the past picks, including the cash holdings, might offer a fair representation of our market views over the past 11 months. Perhaps they offer at least some insight as to our relative success on the markets this year, in light of the negative returns that the indices, and thus, most buy-and-hold managers experienced.