Monday, March 3, 2008

Monday Gossip: Carmel Fisher lands a big one





In the wake of the very successful Fisher Funds(MLN) Investment management company's well telegraphed losses from holdings in credit company, Credit Corp and an investment in the crumbling ABC learning centres and consequent share price drops for the company's investment vehicles. Carmel and Hugh Fisher have splashed out on this NZ$8 million plus cliff top house in an exclusive street in Takapuna, so it ain't all that bad.

Investors in Fisher Funds had done well up until recently but credit crunches and stifled lending has had a big impact on Fishers growth funds especially.

Pumpkin Patch Ltd(PPL) in which Fisher has a sizable stake in, is worth way less than half it was just several months ago, similarly Rakon(RAK), the chip manufacturer, and many of the company's holdings have a horrible story to tell.

In what could be a sign of the pear shaped nature of the investment business at the moment chief investment officer Warren Couillault left the company last week and quit his shareholding at the same time.

The final announcement of his departure was made after weeks of speculation as to why he was leaving and came after were told by Fisher management not to accept deals on Fisher Fund's behalf.

Now I don't want to poke the boney finger just for the hell of it but Couillault should take some of the blame for getting into some of the risky investments that he did.

"The currency is pretty hard to tread water against,'' Couillault said about results from Rakon a few weeks back. Investors have been aware of this for some time but Fisher's ploughed more money into the stock as it got "cheaper".

At head office though, just around the corner from their new house, management are playing a blame game of their own. Blaming everyone else but themselves for the poor performance from their investment picks. Pointing the finger at the currency and "market conditions" for their investment woes.

Now I previously picked this company as one of the best in the business, in terms of results by comparison to other fund managers, and the professional way the company was run. Laying the blame at anyone but yourself is a recipe for long term disaster when it comes to business and investing.

We are all subject to the current "market conditions" but Fisher Funds and their managers were instructed to invest allot of clients funds in "high growth" and smaller cap companies. Having said that, things will work themselves out in the long run but management need to take the short term flak.

These companies are riskier even in good times but the economic slowdown we are facing makes investing in them a far bigger risk. With that sort of strategy when the shite does hit the fan one can only blame oneself for making that choice.

Bad managers blame everyone but themselves, good managers take the rap and move on.

Carmel should well remember that when she looks out at Rangitoto tonight.


Share Investor Friday Free for all: Edition 8 - Scroll down to end for related story






c Share Investor 2008