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Portfolio manager practises what she preaches

Portfolio manager Barbara Stewart says her best investment move came during the 2008 and 2009 crash, a period when ‘all money managers were put to the test.’

Barbara Stewart, 50

Occupation

Portfolio manager

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Portfolio

Includes shares in Imax Corp., Nvidia Corp., Imperial Oil Ltd., Potash Corp., CIBC and Agrium Inc.

The investor

Barbara Stewart is a Chartered Financial Analyst charter holder and manages investment portfolios for high-net-worth clients at Toronto's Cumberland Private Wealth Management Inc. She has done extensive research in the area of women and finance; publications include the report Financial Lives of Girls and Women.

How she invests

Ms. Stewart invests the same way she counsels her clients to invest. Following her firm's approach and research team, she buys "undervalued stocks when the conditions are favourable for a market uptick." She also likes to buy companies with "catalysts for growth."

She owns Agrium and Potash Corp. because they are "in the fertilizer space." This industry has good long-term prospects because of population growth and rising per capita incomes in emerging economies and elsewhere. These two factors should boost meat consumption and, in turn, the planting of grain crops to feed animals.

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Ms. Stewart recently bought CIBC shares because it is "the best capitalized Canadian bank, yet it trades at the lowest price-earnings multiple and has the highest dividend yield of its peers."

Best move

Her best investment move came during the 2008 and 2009 crash, a period when "all money managers were put to the test." Sticking with her value discipline, she deployed cash reserves and became fully invested by early 2009, in time for the lift-off in equity markets.

Worst move

"Long after my firm decided to sell Research In Motion, I opted to hold onto it in my 'play' account. I have a very close relationship with my BlackBerry and I let my own attachment drive the decision to keep the stock. Fortunately, RIM is a relatively small amount of my overall portfolio – smaller now, of course."

Advice

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Spend time up front "developing a strategy that is aligned with your investment objectives as well as with your core personality." When investors ground themselves at this initial phase, "they are far less likely to work against themselves down the road by shifting strategies depending on the headlines."

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