Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thinking Outside The Style Box

One investing tenet says you should choose an investing style--value, growth and so on--and stay as faithful as possible to it. Marc Heilweil has had success taking a more flexible approach. Since its launch in 2000, his relatively small ($20 million in assets) fund, Marathon Value Portfolio, has averaged an annual 9% total return, versus 2% for the S&P 500.

"Our fund is hard to categorize," says Heilweil, 59. "I will go where the best values are, whether it's small-cap, large-cap, value, growth, international or domestic." His top ten holdings illustrate the point; alongside value plays like Kimberly-Clark, you'll find jazzier outfits like Maxim Integrated Products, a developer and manufacturer of analog semiconductors.

Still, Heilweil, a Yale Law School graduate and 28-year veteran of the investment business, keeps a few stock-picking ground rules. First, he's a believer in Benjamin Graham's concept of "margin of safety," which suggests that you can cover your tail in the market by buying companies whose enterprise value (market capitalization less net debt) stands below their "intrinsic" value.

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