tom-burke

Title: Senior Investment Advisor, Canaccord Wealth Management

City: Montreal

In the business: 26 years

Book size: $70 million

Philosophy

My focus over the last decade has been on equity-weighted portfolios that include:

  1. Mega-cap companies that pay growing dividends. They tend to have lower volatility than the market and their dividend growth is predictable.
  2. Mid-sized, high-growth companies in North America. They could be REITs, high-dividend-paying mid-caps, or high-growth special situations.
  3. Undiscovered or turnaround small- and micro-cap companies. This segment is for clients with high risk appetites. Get very small intro positions so failure minimally impacts the portfolio, and then build up positions as the company hits milestones.

    For accredited investors, I encourage allocation in alternative assets, specifically farmland and agricultural special situations.

Shopping tips

I keenly observe what people buzz about, and many chance conversations have translated into good investment ideas. My wife shops at Dollarama, and I have included its stock in her portfolio because the company has been doing consistently better over the past six years. Heinz Tomato Ketchup is a product kids love—especially picky eaters. So the long-term value proposition of a company like Heinz becomes obvious.

When considering retail companies, I seek steady same-store sales growth and a long-term record of earnings growth. I also make sure the business is a leader in its segment. When a company catches my eye, I usually chat with its investor-relations team or CFO. With smaller companies, I organize lunch meetings and invite management to meet with clients and other investment advisors. To make sure I’m not just relying on my judgment, I also invite brokers from other firms.

With bigger companies, I listen in on conference calls after quarterly announcements to see how management answers people’s questions. Tone is very helpful in assessing a company’s growth prospects. If management starts getting defensive, it’s an obvious red flag.

Kanupriya Vashisht is a Toronto-based financial writer.

Originally published in Advisor's Edge

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