Although many people consider bloody-mindedness and stubbornness as being perfect qualifications for a contrarian investor, the approach is in fact a little different than that. Yes, it requires one to act against the crowd. However, it is futile to do so without good reason. A naiÌˆve contrarian investor pops into a pub looking for a fight and is delighted if his first opponent is Lennox Lewis. A more seasoned contrarian looks to fight only little old ladies. But looking for the right opponent in a local pub is far from straightforward - little old ladies can sometimes be veteran jujitsu champions - and detecting the easier battles in the stock market is similarly challenging. At first blush, many stocks are attractive and other appealing stocks may initially look like dogs.
There is no trustworthy shortcut to separate the dogs from the delightful. The long cut is the implementation of much hard work. Hard work as in understanding a company's business model, why other investors hate it, what positive factors they might have missed, how its balance sheet and cash flow interact, and whether its valuation is sufficiently attractive. None of that is rocket science perhaps, but that does not make it easy. The bull arguments are often well hidden and can only be discovered through meticulous work, a sceptical mindset, and deep thought.
In this collection of his writings, top fund manager Alastair Mundy takes a contrarian look at a host of topics and issues, providing a range of ideas and approaches and encouraging investors to think hard about their approach to investment. This book should be essential reading for any investor - contrarian or otherwise.