NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As another year-end approaches, it's time to take stock of some of the best and worst calls made in my column over the past year.
While it's fine to point out successes, the failures are equally as important. They help you grow as an investor and avoid repeats. One well-known fund manager once told me that he kept a bulletin board outside his office on which he hung stock certificates of his biggest mistakes. Those constant reminders were helpful to him.
Cresud (CRESY) had an interesting year; I spent the first half of 2013 avoiding it due to concerns with the Argentine government's approach to economics, and the company's inability to pay foreign shareholders a dividend that they were entitled to. These issues helped to send shares down 35% between April and June.
With shares in the $7 range and the dividend finally paid, several months later some of the doubt was removed and I took a new position. Shares are up nearly 60% since then. A new dividend of 40.5 cents a share was declared last month, and I hope it will be paid without fanfare this year, but we'll see.Shares of Career Education (CECO) represented a rarity in mid-June, when the company traded for less than the cash and cash equivalents on its balance sheet. That rarely happens, especially in this market environment, and while representative of the disdain that investors have for Career Education and for-profit education companies in general, it represented an interesting opportunity, and shares are up about 64% since June. Despite yesterday's shellacking, a 20% hit and calls by some that the company's "honeymoon" is over, Krispy Kreme (KKD) shares were still a homerun in 2013, and are up more than 100%. I was an early believer in the turnaround of this company, in the years following its near implosion. In similar situations in the past, I'd usually be long gone by now, but have maintained a position. Gannett (GCI) has had another fine year, as its shares are up 42% year to date. That represents one of the great turnaround stories of the past several years. (I must admit, however, being a bit dismayed recently by the new $2 newsstand price of flagship USA Today.) I do quite a bit of value-related stock screening, often referencing these screens in my column, and one technique that did well this past year was stocks trading below tangible book value. Of course, these are harder to find now.