Editor's Note: Arne Alsin's column runs exclusively on RealMoney.com; this is a special free look at his column. For a free trial subscription to RealMoney.com, click here. This article was published Dec. 18 on RealMoney.
I can't hide at
. Readers are free to go to the list of commentators at the bottom left of the home page, click on my name and, right or wrong --
embarrassing or not
-- review my
complete record. All of my comments, positions and picks of past columns are available for your perusal.
In writing more than 80 columns in the past year for
, I've tried to follow my own set of rules:
- Don't waffle. Give it to 'em straight.
Always question "conventional wisdom" (one of my favorite oxymorons, by the way).
Most of all, don't be boring!
I hope my cadre of columns has helped you successfully navigate the markets this year. I don't think the new market cycle is going to be any easier -- but for a jaded character like me, that's welcome, because it means I'll have a lot of fun. (Raging bull markets are dull.)
I've taken a look back at the 80-plus columns that I've penned. Here are my personal picks and pans.
My favorite is a February column,
Give Me an Edge -- Or I Won't Play, in which I laid out a philosophical framework for success in the markets, such as the need to have an identifiable, discernable edge.
Also in that column, I had the gumption to say that retailer
was a better company to own than tech heavyweight
. A $10,000 investment in Oracle on that day would now be worth about $6,100, while a $10,000 investment in Office Depot would be worth about three times that, or $18,100.
My worst column has to be my May column,
Time to Swoop In on Airline Stocks. I can sum up my thoughts on that piece easily enough with a three-letter word: ick.
Most Unconventional Wisdom Column
The mutual fund industry is hallowed ground that usually escapes scrutiny. John Bogle of
recently pointed out that most actively managed stock funds cost investors an average of 3% annually when all of the costs are added up. And what do investors get for their 3%? In the aggregate, nothing. Take a look at both of my mutual fund columns for a critique that is richly deserved. One was posted
in June and the other
The timing of my
Sept. 24 column on the brokers was especially propitious. Since that column appeared, the six brokers that I listed as attractive are up 38%. The valuation analysis in that column, based on net cash and money management assets, was one of my better efforts for
Top 10 Turnarounds for 2001, of course. That portfolio is up 54%.
It's from a
column posted at the end of last year: "There are only two kinds of companies:
companies that have problems and companies that are going to have problems.
" Here are a couple of candidates, by the way, for the latter:
. I offered up my thoughts on Tyco
a month ago and on GE in
Favorite Stock Pick
Some might think my favorite pick would be Office Depot -- which has seen a 138% rise -- a stock I pounded the table for in numerous columns. But I think
, up 141% since
my first mention, was a tougher call. While investors were distracted by the decline in the core department store business last December, they ignored other value, such as in the pharmacy chain
, large real estate holdings, the catalog business and the direct marketing business (since sold for $1.5 billion), among other things.
Worst Stock Pick
is my worst
stock pick. I generally buy companies that are No. 1 or No. 2 in their sector. I rationalized that Kmart was tied with
for the No. 2 spot, which is true based on current revenue. But Target will obviously leave it in a cloud of dust soon enough.
Best Deal in Town
I like to read anything and everything on the financial markets as long as it's current (except for Wall Street analyst reports). Call me biased if you'd like, but
is the best deal in town, hands down. I hardly glance at financial magazines anymore; reading material planned for and written about a few months in advance of publication doesn't make a lot of sense to me, especially in the context of a volatile market like that of the past several months. Real time and online is where it's at.
Look for my upcoming column on turnaround stocks. I'll discuss a number of companies that nearly made my list of
Top 10 Turnaround Candidates for 2002. Maybe you can spot a gem or two in the group.
Arne Alsin is the founder and principal of Alsin Capital Management, an Oregon-based investment advisor specializing in turnaround situations. At time of publication, Alsin and/or ACM was long Office Depot and J.C. Penney, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Alsin appreciates your feedback and invites you to send it to