R.I.P. Peter Cundill

By Dan Hallett, CFA, CFP on January 27th, 2011

I had received a couple of calls this week telling me that Peter Cundill had passed away.  This was confirmed today when another contact today sent me his online obituary.  Peter suffered from a debilitating disease called Fragile X, the symptoms of which are quite ironic given how cerebral and physically active he was.  I didn’t know him personally but by all accounts he was one of the good guys.  And many investors were enriched on the back of his talent for picking stocks.

For most people, this was done through the original Cundill Value A fund.  Started in 1974, the fund was unique in its focus on giving Canadians access to a portfolio of global stocks.  Through his strict adherence to the principles of Ben Graham and David Dodd, he amassed an enviable track record of performance, known for capturing much of the market’s upside while offering great protection in tougher times.  We extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends.  For investors, Peter mentored many talented money managers including Tim McElvaine, Wade Burton, Alan Pasnik and many people who remain at Mackenzie Cundill Investment Management.

It has been a long time since much was heard directly from Peter.  Fortunately, a webpage I bookmarked in 1998 when I began recommending Cundill Value fund is still online today.  So a candid description of Peter’s investment style and its evolution can be found on the Outstanding Investment Digest website’s account of the Cundill Investment Conference.  A more recent piece of work, however, is slated for a February 1, 2011 release.  Prior to his death, a book on his investing style was completed.  There’s Always Something To Do:  The Peter Cundill Investment Approach will be out next week.