Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Let the cat out of the bag

What do the following names have in common?

  • Colby Nolan
  • George
  • Henrietta
  • Kitty O'Malley
  • Oliver Greenhalgh
  • Oreo Collins
  • Tobias F. Schaeffer
  • Zoe D. Katze
  • Lulu
  • Molly
  • Pete
  • Sassafras Herbert
  • Sonny
  • Wally

The answer is two things, as far as I am aware:

  • First of all they are all the proud owners of degrees;
  • And secondly, they are all animals.

For more background about their astonishing achievements, please read the articles in Wikipedia and Slate.

To return to the field of investing, a relevant question could be: "if animals can attain degrees (and some even a MBA), can they also be a successful stock picker?".

And the answer to that question should be positive, according to this article in The Observer:

"The Observer's panel of stock-picking professionals has been undone in our 2012 investment challenge by a ginger feline called Orlando who spent time paw-ing over the FT.

The Observer portfolio challenge pitted professionals Justin Urquhart Stewart of wealth managers Seven Investment Management, Paul Kavanagh of stockbrokers Killick & Co, and Schroders fund manager Andy Brough against students from John Warner School in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire – and Orlando.

Each team invested a notional £5,000 in five companies from the FTSE All-Share index at the start of the year. After every three months, they could exchange any stocks, replacing them with others from the index.

By the end of September the professionals had generated £497 of profit compared with £292 managed by Orlando. But an unexpected turnaround in the final quarter has resulted in the cat's portfolio increasing by an average of 4.2% to end the year at £5,542.60, compared with the professionals' £5,176.60.

While the professionals used their decades of investment knowledge and traditional stock-picking methods, the cat selected stocks by throwing his favourite toy mouse on a grid of numbers allocated to different companies."

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