I've been moving, and was without Internet connection for the past week or more. So I didn't hear the sad news that legendary value investor Peter Cundill died last week at age 72.
I first came across Cundill in the early 1990s through interviews Outstanding Investor Digest conducted with him and Tim McElvaine. Here's an OID interview conducted with them in 1996. His flagship Cundill Value Fund was based in Canada and not available to American residents. As a result, his profile was well-known among American value investors, though nothing like his status north of the border.
Cundill seemed to me a really interesting guy, much more than just a great investor, though he was certainly that. He admired John Templeton, and perhaps that's one reason Cundill adapted a global focus in his stock picking. But from my distanced observations, he seemed like Templeton in other ways, including in the area of personal integrity and a commitment to philanthropy.
The word I remember from reading interviews with Cundill, and in things people who knew him (such as McElvaine) repeated, was "patience." It is an easy word to say but a difficult one to put into practice. Especially in investing, when the "noise" of everyday events can crowd out sound judgement if you're not too careful.
I loved what he said about history and investing, that "both study the past to understand the present and predict the future."
Here's the last interview he gave and here's a profile of him in the Montreal Gazette.
One bright note is that a book about Cunill's approach to investing is coming out later this month. It's titled, "There's Always Something To Do." It sounds appealing because the author, Christopher Risso-Gill, had served as a director of the Cundill Value Fund and had access to Cundill's personal journal, which dates back through several decades.
I knew Cundill had given up active management of his funds, though I didn't know he'd been diagnosed with an untreatable neurological condition.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Cundill.