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You Say Tomayto

Contrarian Investing in Bitesize Pieces

By Alastair Mundy

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You Say Tomayto

Contrarian Investing in Bitesize Pieces

By Alastair Mundy

Jacket text

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 naiÌ?ve 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.

About the author

Alastair Mundy grew up in East London convinced he would be the first British Wimbledon Men's Singles Champion since Fred Perry. For reasons best known to him, he studied Actuarial Science at City University, London, but after battling his way through the course decided actuarial work was far too boring. Alastair's first job in the real world was a brief stint analysing British government debt (gilts), which drove him to find a position as an equity analyst. He currently works at Investec Asset Management, where he has headed the Contrarian Equity Team for ten years. He is married with three children and remains committed to mastering his second serve.


“It provides a wealth of thoughtful advice and a good pinch of modesty. I would suggest any budding contrarian, or long-term value investors read this book which captures the wisdom, and humour of a brilliant contrarian investor.”

– Peter Lowman, CIO, Investment Quorum

“If you want to know how a good investment manager makes money from the stock market, even when they seem to be going against the crowd, this book is a must read. Mundy’s insight into the dark mysterious world of professional fund management is refreshing, candid and invaluable.”

– Jeff Prestridge, Personal Finance Editor, Financial Mail on Sunday

“Alastair Mundy is one of the greatest contrarians. His new book provides an absolutely essential public service, reminding investors that just because something is popular doesn’t make it right, sensible or even worth the price! Crucially this contrarian wisdom, rolled up in this excellent new book, comes with one big plus for the active investor – Alastair is no armchair contrarian as he’s been putting his money where his mouth is for many years as a successful fund manager.”

– David Stevenson, columnist for Investment Week and the Financial Times

“Any book about investment which can legitimately include Curly Wurlys, cricket, fondue sets and Warren Buffett has got to be worth a read. Mundy’s book is witty, insightful and nicely punctures a lot the pomposity of fund managers while reminding us all quite important managing people’s money properly is. I laughed continuously throughout but was nodding in agreement with a lot of the simple and sensible messages in these highly readable musings. This book should be read at the height of a bull market or the bottom of a bear market because common sense should always be in vogue but sadly isn’t very often.”

– Lawrence Gosling, founding editor, Investment Week

“This is an excellent insight into the thoughts of one of the best investors in the UK, Alastair Mundy. Mundy cuts through the fog of investment double-speak to produce a genuinely interesting book about contrarian investing. This is an excellent book for those that wish to gain some insight into how to invest away from the crowd in a sensible, disciplined way and is written by an expert with the layman in mind.”

– Marcus Brookes, Director, Cazenove Capital Management

“Alastair Mundy and his cohorts tirelessly challenge the conventions of the investment world and their contrarian approach has made their clients lots of money. Investors cannot afford to ignore his perspective. It works!”

– Richard Romer-Lee, Managing Director of European Investment Consulting, Morningstar OBSR

“It has been my privilege to have worked with Alastair Mundy for more than a decade and hopefully many more years in the future. While many investors pay lip service to contrarian investing, he is the real deal. His results confirm this. He sees things differently but he also says it as it is. He communicates clearly in plain English as befits his combination of razor sharp mind and impressive modesty.”

– Hendrik du Toit, CEO, Investec Asset Management

“Provides a wealth of thoughtful advice and a good pinch of modesty…I would suggest any budding contrarian, or long-term value investors read this book which captures the wisdom, and humour of a brilliant contrarian investor”

– Peter Lowman, CIO, Investment Quorum

Media coverage

From Stocks & Commodities :

People consider stubbornness as a qualification for a contrarian investor. At first blush, many stocks are attractive and other stocks may look like dogs. There is no trustworthy shortcut to separate the dogs from the delightful. It is the implementation of hard work and understanding a company?s business model. The bull arguments are often well… Read more »

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From Pensions World:

?Contrarian investing in bitesize pieces? is the subtitle of this engrossing work. There is no trustworthy shortcut to separate the dogs from the delightful, only hard work. In this highly readable collection of his writings, Investec Asset Management fund manager Alastair Mundy takes a contrarian look at a host of topics with such enticing chapter… Read more »

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From A Private Portfolio :

“You Say Tomayto …” (Contrarian Investing in Bitesize Pieces) is written is a similar style to Anthony Bolton’s “Against the Tide”, a series of short summaries on various matters which a fund manager considers relevant to the business of making stock selections for an actively managed fund. In this case the author is Alistair Mundy… Read more »

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From The Motley Fool:

Everyone claims to be a contrarian investor, so at least half of them must be wrong — contrarian investing should be as unfashionable as shoulder pads and Hawaiian shirts. In fact, according to Alastair Mundy, head of the Contrarian team at Investec Asset Management, genuine contrarianism should leave you feeling sick to the stomach at… Read more »

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From MoneyWeek:

Almost every fund manager says they are ‘contrarian’, writes Matthew Partridge. Few genuinely are. Those who go against market trends often endure periods of poor performance. That’s tough for anyone, let alone a professional fund manager, even if ultimately proven right. Alastair Mundy is an exception. In the 12 years he has run money for… Read more »

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From Investment Week :

Let us talk contrarian investing, Mundy-style. Alastair?s new book You say Tomayto: Contrarian Investing in Bitesize Pieces from Harriman House is an essential collection of succinct and witty observations about the mad world of investing. As you would expect, it is full of common sense, as well as humorous anecdotes from a successful investor (for… Read more »

Read More…


About the Author

1. You Say Tomayto: Beneath the Skin of Contrarian Investing
You say tomayto
Too scared to watch?
Portfolio concentration - separating the good from the great
The risks of structural decline - a requiem to fondue sets
Mean reversion - whatever goes up probably comes down
Tesco - every little helps margins revert
Risk management - dinner party do's and don'ts
Stretching the analogy
Navel gazing
Contrarian investing - cycling through the haze

2. Circles of Competence: Expertise, Luck, or Sheer Bloody-Mindedness?
Circles of competence - Tony the Cabbie
Expertise - keep practising
Intuition - I knew that was going to happen
Luck - an unlucky general
Scepticism - 'Gullible? Me?'
Patience - as long as it takes
Errors - check the checklist

3. Fancy a Crunchie? The Relentless Quest for Value
Fancy a Crunchie? Not at that price
The perfect stock
Falling knives I - have you lost your nerve?
Falling knives II - dealing with the losers
What's the catalyst?
Are shorters evil?
Correlations - not so simple
Large cap investing - does size matter?
Investing in IPOs - what's not to like?

4. A Psycho in the Boardroom? Quizzing Company Management
A psycho in the boardroom?
When chaff looks like wheat
Accounting tricks - where's the potato?
Remuneration - when's enough, enough?
Cost-cutting - too good to be true?

5. Chancellor for a Day: The Perils of Economic Forecasting
Chancellor for a day
Economic forecasting I - what's the point?
Economic forecasting II - sure thing?
Deeply double dippy

6. A Night on the Town: 'Out with the Crowd' on Behavioural Finance
Behavioural finance - a night on the town
Framing - the benefit of the doubt?
Nostalgia bias - Nostalgia's not what it used to be
How many spectators does it take to trigger a Mexican Wave?
Being Wrong - did I really say that?
Overconfidence? No, I'm just right, I'm sure
Availability bias - Thinking, Fast and Slow
Risk aversion - the attraction of the uninvestable

7. Meet the Monkeys: Fund Management and Mismanagement
Star fund managers - meet the monkeys
Organogram chaos - specialists versus generalists
Mis-selling - snake oil everywhere?
Marketing - weasel words I
Marketing - weasel words II
Surveys - 9 out of 10 Cats

8. Colin the Contrarian: Tall Tales and Other Confessions
Colin the Contrarian - a cautionary tale
The 12 myths of investment - a presentation
Original thinking
Bye, bye Paddy
Can't give up the girl
Packing her in for good
It's just not cricket!
Kissing frogs, and five other things

The Audience Fights Back
Further Reading - Build Your Own Book Mountain

Published: 17/10/2012
Edition: 1st
Pages: 210
Formats: hardback - ISBN 9780857192561
ebook - ISBN 9780857192745
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