THOMASTON, Maine (TheStreet) -- Rick Tonge has this to say to Bank of America Merrill Lynch's (BAC) Nat Schindler, Goldman Sachs' (GS) Heath Terry or any one of the dozens of Wall Street analysts who cover red-hot online streaming service Pandora Media (P).
"There is not one thing about the company that makes any sense," the owner of Tonge Investments told me from this rocky, mid-coastal Maine town. "But that has not stopped me from doubling my clients' money by buying the stock."
Tonge is my kind of investment professional. He doesn't have some stuffy office in the World Financial Center. Rather, he works out of his rural hometown of Waterville, Maine, near his alma mater of Colby College.
Despite his central Maine roots, Tonge -- who pronounces his name to sort of rhyme with the french pronunciation of "orange" -- grew up in the financial markets. He took his Series 7 exam back in 1974 to work in his father's and grandfather's brokerage business while still in high school.And he's made his living making his clients' money ever since. "I have directly participated in every crash of the modern era," he told me, nibbling on pizza during a reception here. "If you're going to be a sole proprietor like I am, you learn a thing or two about protecting your clients' money."
What Information Age skeptics will love about Tonge is how he has little room for the supposed must-haves of the information era. He does not use sophisticated risk management models or complex, real-time, computer-driven trading algos. He keeps CNBC turned off during the day and struggles to keep up with the pile of Barron's magazines in his office. "I'm not looking at my stupid computer all day. I can't remember the last financial statement I studied," he said. "That's all noise. The trick actually is cutting down on those inputs. Instead, I use my brain." Tonge relies on a simple mix of throwback technical, so-called "point and figure" charting and a seat-of-the-pants value investing style, a la Fidelity Investments' Peter Lynch, to manage $33 million in a mix of stocks, bonds, electronically traded funds and the occasional covered call. A handful of his 100 some-odd clients with whom I spoke confirm that their returns are worth the between one-half and one-percent annual fees he charges.
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