Stephen Jarislowsky, the octogenarian co-founder of the money management firm Jarislowsky Fraser and one of Canada’s most respected investors, talks about a wide range of investing topics in a book that is conversational in style and is only 152 pages long.
Mr. Jarislowsky starts out with a short personal history and then launches into a scathing attack on the American War on Terror (“McCarthyism on a major scale”), overpaid and underperforming CEOs (“Corporate Crooks”), stock options (“legal theft”, “pilfering”), the board of directors (“lackeys of management”), auditors (“in cahoots with management”) and the greedy practices of the investment business (frequent trading, high mutual fund fees).
To navigate the investing jungle profitably, he offers some timeless advice for investors: start saving early to allow compounding to do its magic and invest most of it in individual, high-quality stocks; avoid frequent trading or trying to time the market; focus on dividends (“Management, workers, the banks, the tax collectors, the community – everyone gets paid, even the board of directors. So why not the shareholder?”).
In a short chapter titled A Tale of Three Stocks, my favourite in the book, Mr. Jarislowsky talks about investments of $2000 each in Reynolds Metals (an aluminum producer), United Airlines and Abbott Laboratories that he made 50 years ago to illustrate his preference for “premium high compound growth non-cyclical stocks”. The rest of the book mostly deals with offering readers a sound DIY approach to investing.
The book may not be a must-have item on the bookshelf but it is definitely worth reading.