The Secret of Magpie Investing


The Motley Fool is making Money Talk even more "Motley" by introducing a new host to the podcast line-up. David Kuo chats with Owain Bennallack who will be joining the podcast team that will also include Sonia with her popular "Ask A Foolish Question" podcast. Owain will bring to the table his unique style of "magpie investing." Find out in this podcast what magpie investing is and why it works.

You can listen to or download the full podcast here.

EDITOR'S NOTE: What follows is a lightly edited transcript of David Kuo's conversation with Owen Bennallack.

David Kuo: This is Money Talk, the weekly investing podcast from The Motley Fool. I am David Kuo, and today I have some exciting news for all of you. For those of you who don't know, the "Motley" in The Motley Fool means "being diverse, varied, assorted and heterogeneous," so that in mind, we are introducing a new host for Money Talk to add freshness, to keep the podcast at the top of iTunes' investing chart. So just as detergent makers, like Unilever and Procter & Gamble, regularly come up with new and improved formulations to make your clothes come up whiter than white, we hope that the changes to Money Talk will make it brighter than bright. Starting from today, Money Talk will alternate with "Ask A Foolish Question," hosted by the ever-popular Sonia Rehill, and Owain Bennallack will be a new host on Money Talk. I will still be lingering like a bad smell in a poorly vented room, which even Airwick will not get rid of. So, Owain?

Owain Bennallack: That's an extraordinary intro, David.

David: So there you go.

Owain: I liked the bit about "heterogeneous" -- the genius part I like! -- but it's quite a billing.

David: OK, so anyway, Owain is an advisor on Champion Shares PRO; he's a longtime Fool; and he is with me now, so welcome to Money Talk, Owain.

Owain: Hello, David.

David: OK, so for the benefit of those people who don't know too much about you, tell us about yourself.

Owain: Well, I work on The Motley Fool's Champion Shares PRO service, which is pretty much a way of monetising my obsessive interest in investing. I've been invested for about, well over 10 years now, since the dotcom boom. Luckily, just after the dot-com boom, I decided to deploy my money, and still it's been a very interesting time to invest, lots of ups and downs, and I'd say yes -- it's really a passion of mine, and it'd be great to be on the podcast, and to try and take it in a new direction.

David: That's very interesting, Owain, because you say you started investing after the collapse of the dotcom boom. Do you think your perception of investing would have changed, had you started investing before the collapse of the dotcom bubble?

Owain: Not really. I'll probably shock you when I describe how I invest a little bit later on in this podcast, and you'll be horrified, and you'll think, well, he probably would have been the same after the dotcom boom, because I'm not one of these people who is immune to thinking about where the market is, and what kind of level it's at -- whether people are too giddy, or too pessimistic. It was really just sheer laziness that I missed the dotcom boom. I decided I had to start using my tax ISA allowance, so I sent off to one of these fund managers and said, what shares should I go in? And they said, you should go into this thing called the, I think it was the Henderson Technology Trust. If I had put the money into that, I would have lost about 90% of that money, and then not losing that money -- I think I learnt a lesson either way, but I just didn't have to pay for it.

David: OK, now you describe yourself as a "magpie of investing" -- what do you mean by that?

Owain: I have a very flexible framework with my investing. I'm not one of these people who says, this is how I invest; these are the companies I like; I will always like those companies, and I will hold them for a long time. I'm almost the antithesis of you, and I was thinking about this question on the way, and I was thinking, David's going to ask me about short-term versus long-term investing, and he's going to give me the look he's giving me now about my more kind of flighty investing style. But I think the words "Motley Fool," possibly in terms of the core tenants of The Fool, my investing is a little bit less Foolish, because I am quite happy to trade shares. I probably only turn over, to be fair, about 15% of my portfolio a year, but I do turn that over, and some of it more than once. But the Motley part, I think, is completely valid, like, I will look at all sectors. I will try and decide what kind of environment we're in, and I'll definitely think about shares versus other asset classes, like property or cash.

David: So you turn over your portfolio about 15% every year?

Owain: I've got various pots that I put my money in. I have some long-term trackers that I don't touch; I occasionally change the country allocations. Then I have some shares principally outside of tax protection, which I'm holding for the long term, partly because I don't want to release the capital gains tax; partly because I really like the companies. Then I have an active portfolio within an ISA, where I'm more happy to trade, and that's probably about a third of my total portfolio, and I probably trade at about 50% turnover in there.

David: So do you know how often I turn over my portfolio?

Owain: I do.

David: Go on, then.

Owain: Never!

David: I never turn over my portfolio. I just keep adding, adding, adding money to my portfolio.

Owain: Absolutely, and I've got a lot of respect for that approach. For me, partly it comes out of my absolutely obsessive love of investing. If it's a problem, it is over-confidence, definitely. But also, I have an awful lot of my money in shares. Basically, I have all my money in my share portfolio; I don't own a house currently. So compared to what I earn, I've saved up quite a bit, and I've done reasonably well. So possibly incorrectly, I feel that, having a flexible framework, particularly in the last few years, has allowed me to run that kind of exposure to the stock market, without fearing another crash. If shares fell 30% next year, it wouldn't kill me, because certainly I would get out of some of those positions along the way, and I would also have sort of, as the market goes up, I'll be shifting to more defensive shares. I might, overall, this entire strategy may deliver the same return as you; maybe it'll even do slightly less, but it allows me to just feel that I'm in control of the fact that I've got a ridiculous, virtually all of my worldly goods, bar the shirt I'm wearing and the coffee I've bought in, is in the stock market.

David: So how do you go about valuing shares then, Owain?

Owain: Well, I have a lot of different methods I use -- I've sort of read everyone. As I say, I'm quite happy to look at all different strategies, so I'll typically look for lower-valuation shares, lower-rated shares, usually not on dirt cheap P/Es, but say on a 12 or a 14, hopefully growing at say 15 to 20% a year, where I can understand why the market is possibly under-rating those shares. I prefer small caps to large caps. I think your strategy's very good in terms of, how we ... I mean, what we're trying to do here is beat the institutions. One way you can beat the institutions is not trading. So with a lot of my money, I don't trade, but obviously on the other part, I am trading a lot. Another way you can beat the institutions is, you can be more nimble. You can look at areas they can't go into. So looking at small-cap shares, and getting in and out with a few grand, is something that a big fund manager just can't do. If he looks at a small cap share, like Hargreaves Services fell this week, fell 20% on some news about it, I think it's Matby or Maltby, I can't remember how you pronounce it -- their mine, there's going to be problems, it might have to be shut. It just plunged, presumably because some small cap fund manager thought, I've had enough of this -- flogged the lot. But as a small investor, you can say, well, I think that's overdone. I don't necessarily want to be in that company forever, but I respect the management. I can see they've diversified their business. I'll take a small position, and see where it goes. They've come back, almost back to where they were, in the space of a few days. Now, obviously not everything works like that -- we all know about losing fingers and whatnot. But I do think you can be in a very well-diversified portfolio, which I have 50 odd positions usually -- I do think you can be little bit more flexible than a fund manager.

David: So if we had to stamp a label on your forehead to say, what style of investing you have, what would it be?

Owain: I would just have to say motley, because I mean, much as I've talked about that kind of, I guess you'd call it growth at a reasonable price, what I've just described; I'm also very interested in asset-based investing. So I got into a lot of the homebuilders last year, and based entirely on the fact that they were trading substantially below book, and the banks keep drawing me back -- that's been a sort of 50-50; some ups and some downs. That's typical of the sort of pros and cons of my method, so I was into Lloyds quite early on. Having sold them, I basically got some in a convoluted way from my grandmother's inheritance, and I sold some before the credit crisis, then I bought some far too soon. But all the time, I'm never thinking, I'll never go back to that share. I'm thinking, OK -- well, that wasn't the right time to buy it, and then it's smashed up again. Now, I'm looking at the bank when it was sort of 25 pence, and I'm thinking, this is trading at less than half book value. There was a time this bank traded at twice book value, so I'm prepared to take the risk of reward again. All the time, I'm trying to think about all my portfolio in those different ways. So they're all in different positions in my head. So I know it's maddening, and it's not convenient. It'd be very hard to say, this is the Owain Bennallack fund, because it would be very hard to label, but again I think that's an advantage of being a small investor. If you're running a precious metals fund, you've had great fun over the last 10 years, but if we go into another period like the Nineties for precious metals, you'll have a terrible 10 years. As private investors, we don't have to nail our colors to any one mast. We can look at the prevailing conditions, and then the companies within the different sectors, and to see a combination of valuation, and maybe some of those macro trends.

David: You see, I beg to differ, because I am a creature of habit, and as far as I'm concerned, the first thing I look for is dividends. If I cannot see a dividend, and I cannot see a stream of income coming from a company, I find it very difficult to invest in that business, and I need to be able to project those dividends forward, and discount them back, to end up with a valuation for the company. So in many ways, I am a creature of habit. The reason why I like that is because, if I know that the dividends are more or less assured, I can sleep at night; I can go on holiday; I can go anywhere I want to, knowing full well that dividend checks will arrive in my bank account on a certain day, and my headache really is reinvesting those dividends, because then I have to decide which of those 15 or so companies I am going to allocate those dividends to, in order to compound my returns over the long term. So that is the only headache I have.

Owain: Yeah, and I think that is an absolutely superb way to invest -- I've no problem with it whatsoever. I in fact probably had about half my money in a high-yield portfolio up until, toward the end of 2007, and just fortuitously, I got this notion I was going to travel the world, because I was between jobs, and I thought -- right, I need some cash. So I just happened to sell, and quite a lot of my shares that I had at the time, that were outside of the wrappers, because obviously I didn't want to lose my ISA wrappers or whatever. That's the only thing I'd say about that dividend strategy -- I did sell some shares that did go onto kind of completely collapse, and that were in there as high yield. Lloyds was in there particularly, I had probably about 5 -- 10% of my portfolio in Lloyds, and I used to be laughed at for holding that bank, and I would say, I'm holding it for the dividend. It's boring, but it's safe, but you know, as Lloyds' shareholders have discovered, they haven't had a dividend for five years. So I think you can be more skilled at avoiding those situations, but I would just caution that no investing is entirely risk-free.

David: OK, so what is your strategy for selling a share? Because you've almost touched on it, the reasons why you sold certain shares, but what is your out-and-out strategy for selling a company?

Owain: The first thing I'd say is, definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, the weakest part of my investing game is that I sell too soon. It's so, almost anything that I now say, listeners should make a note of not to do, because I picked up a share a while ago called NCC Group, for The Fool actually, I think it was Shares 2010, a special supplement that we did. I happened to own that share from about 2 pounds -- I think it's now back over 9 pounds. I don't know, because I don't see it every day, because I don't like to look at it, because I sold it at about 4 pounds. I think probably at that point, I think one of the directors had left. They were doing a lot more acquisitions than they used to do. The story felt like it might be changing, they might be becoming slightly more vulnerable. So I did sell up, and I sort of thought, well, I'll get back in, if it all beds down again, but I never got the chance to get back in. That's definitely the weakness with this kind of approach. I'll look at valuation, I'll look to see if the story's changed. On the whole, I'm trying not to get completely out of companies now -- that's how I'm trying to change this. I think I'll always reduce and add to positions, but yeah -- it is the weakest part, then you've got the cost of trading your portfolio, which, I have to stress, I only do with probably about 20% of my total funds. But trading definitely incurs a lot more cost. We could compare our wads of commission receipts from our brokers, and yours would be sort of on a napkin, and we'd still be reading through mine come dinnertime. It's thousands of pounds probably over a year, because I'm just giving to one of our friends in the City -- it's a waste of money. So I'm going to try and reduce my selling, and I'm not even prepared to talk about what people should do. It's the weakest part of my game. I think I'm really pretty good at spotting undervalued companies. I don't think I'm good at working out when to sell them.

David: You can probably guess what my selling strategy is, can't you?

Owain: You don't sell, do you, David?

David: Well, it's strange you should say that, because I mean, what I do get is a lot of income. So ultimately, I don't need to sell shares in order to, if I wanted a certain amount of income, I could actually just simply draw that income off, which again is one of the beauties of dividend investing.

Owain: It's fabulous, and also it's very...

David: I can almost predict, by the end of the year, how much income I'm going to be getting from my shares, and I think, for whatever reason, that I will be needing some of that money, I will just simply not go and buy shares, and just simply draw that income off.

Owain: And brilliantly, you don't have to pay to get that -- the dividend check just comes. You don't have to incur any kind of like trading fees or whatnot. No, it's a fabulous strategy -- I expect that possibly, when I get a bit older, David, I'll look back toward...

David: You see, it's not an old man's strategy -- young people should be investing for dividend as well, because later on in this podcast, I'll give you some examples of companies where they have actually generated huge amounts of a total return to shareholders.

Owain: I'm not knocking it. I always look at dividend income, when I look at any company, and, as I said at the start, I think it's a perfectly valid strategy. For me, I'm not going to get out my return sheet, but I don't feel at the moment that this is the kind of market where I need to be doing that, but I'm not closing my mind to it. I'm not laughing at that strategy -- I think it is an excellent strategy.

David: OK, so where do you go about looking for your investing ideas, then?

Owain: Well, I'm just like, I'm a magpie, so I don't particularly have a screen that I look at. I don't particularly look at a particular metric. I am completely obsessed with the stock market, so I would imagine I read probably six hours a day of company reports, the newspapers, bulletin boards, The Motley Fool bulletin boards and some others, a few blogs. There's things like the Economist -- like, if the Economist starts saying to me, there's a big problem in India because there's not enough water, then I might be more alert in the future to potential drawbacks in companies trying to do say agriculture in India, or people trying to do infrastructure for water. So I read an enormous amount, and sort of ideas bubble up from that. Usually it starts with a company -- usually I'll come across a company, and I will think that it looks cheap compared to where it's going. I don't care too much about where it's been, which again is controversial. I do look at the past, but if I can see why it's had some sort of blow up, then I'd rather have the blow up in the past than in the future. And then I'll sort of try and get my head around that company, and in the context of all that reading that I do, and claim is work, I'll then try and make a decision.

David: You strike me as being more of a hummingbird than a magpie. In other words, you actually go from flower to flower, and you stick your beak in there, and you take a suck, and you just go, mmm -- this one actually tastes quite sweet, and I'm actually going to go for this one.

Owain: Yeah, it's probably an excellent analogy, because I don't really collect shiny things, I suppose, like a magpie does. I'm more like a hummingbird in that I'll suck out my 20%, and then very often, in that trading portion of mine, which we're focusing on that. As I say, I've got long-term holdings that I've had multi-bagged, that I haven't touched.

David: OK, so for the benefit of listeners, can you give us a couple of examples of companies that you are either interested in, or you have invested in, or you are planning to invest in very shortly?

Owain: Yeah, so one company that I've been invested in for a good few years, I mentioned it earlier that I invested in homebuilders, but I actually added to this position last year. It's called Berkeley Group (LSE: BKG.L) , and it's a homebuilder. I think it's not even just the best homebuilder, which I think it clearly is -- I think it's one of the best-run companies in the U.K. Its market timing, its understanding of the market, is fantastic. All companies, when they're in cyclical industries, say, next time it'll be different, and in most of the companies, it is no different, but they scaled their business up, and then they reduced it down ahead of the boom at the end of the downturn, with something like 250 million pounds in cash. Then they started deploying this cash, and when they started deploying it to buy land, to buy cheap land, so they could build in the future more cheaply, I thought -- whoa! -- they're doing this too soon. I was quite worried about it. Then I remembered that I'd invested in this company because I think they know a lot about homebuilding and the market, and they're very good at that. So actually, I added some to my holding for the first time, and the timing was spot on. They're now very slightly in debt, but they've got a vast amount of land that they can built out on for years and years. They've got, almost anywhere you see fancy hoardings in London, they're building there. They've undertaken to return 13 pounds to shareholders via a dividend by, I think, it's 2021, or 2020 possibly, and leave a company at the end of it which is more or less the same as where they started, ie, they're not just selling up and shutting up shop. So I think the share price now is 15 pounds, but I started buying at about 7 pounds, and you've got that whole 13 pounds to come. It's not a regular dividend -- it's sort of three payments over the 10 years, but that would be an example of a company where perhaps its closest to a Foolish investment.

David: So are you not worried that nobody out there is buying houses these days?

Owain: No, everyone's buying their houses. They exclusively operate in central London and the south-east of England, and their sales and reservations are going through the roof. They almost can't build them fast enough.

David: OK, so let's have another company of yours.

Owain: OK, so a company that is quite different to Berkeley -- it's a company called Genel (LSE: GENL.L) , which I have been calling "Jenel" up until recently, but it's actually called Genel, and it is an oil company that is run by a Mr. Tony Hayward, who listeners may remember from when he was a yacht in the BP disaster and whatnot. I thought he was very badly treated by that whole thing -- I thought he became a complete scapegoat for the Americans, and when you think that that guy's been groomed for decades to run one of the biggest oil companies in the world, and then got booted out for pretty much, leaving aside whether there should have been a leak there, which BP didn't even, wasn't even directly in control of, I thought their response was exemplary, to be honest. I thought they got in, they cleaned up, they gave all the money -- no-one really disputes that. They supported people, and he still got kicked out. So already, I was wondering, what will he do next? And then he popped up in this company, he had a lot of money with him from Nat Rothschild, and they acquired Genel, which was a Kurdistan-based oil exploration company. Quite often I'm asked by my Foolish colleagues, where do I think they're going to deploy their cash around, blah-blah-blah. When I invested, I wasn't too bothered about that, because when I invested, Genel's share price was about 6 pounds, and the cash in the bank was about 6 pounds. It was very close, I think it might have been 5.80 pounds. There are some complications: there's a lot of shares that belong to some minority parties that may or may not come into play, but the net result was, they had almost this Kurdistan business thrown in for free, and since then it's gone up to about, I think when I left the house today it was about 7.65 pounds. So that's a classic example of a company where it's going to be, one Owen on one shoulder saying, well, we've had our 20% now -- let's get out; and on the other shoulder, the one I'm trying to cultivate a bit, he'll be saying, well, what if this is the new BP? What if this company is going to, I think it's about 2 billion pounds now -- what if it's going to be the 50 billion pound oil major? And maybe I'll be thinking back to this podcast, and trying to decide whether I should have listened more to my left or my right.

David: Well, just to put your mind at ease, Owain, we had a guest on Money Talk, I think it was about a month or so ago, a man called Malcolm Graham-Wood, who knows his oil, and Genel was one company that he said, you should be watching.

Owain: OK, excellent.

David: So you're in good company there.

Owain: I'm pleased to hear it. But that's a classic example, like I've missed out really on a lot of the oil shares boom of the last few years, but my magpie approach still brought me to this company, purely based on Hayward and the cash. I don't read the drilling reports -- I assume that there are experts in the market that can do that. What I am prepared to believe is that investors go, oh -- I'm not touching Kurdistan, particularly the big investors. Maybe some investors think, I'm not touching Hayward. People don't like to see money sitting around in cash, not knowing where it's going to be spent. They can't really value the company, so I think a private investor can step in there, and maybe get an advantage on them.

David: So, does it pay a dividend?

Owain: I'm afraid it doesn't, but it will do one day.

David: I'll wait until the day when it starts paying a dividend, before I actually jump on board.

Owain: Maybe I'll sell you my shares then.

David: You could, if you wanted to! So what can listeners expect to take away from the podcast that you will be involved in?

Owain: Well, it sounds, from what I'm saying, that they'll never know what to expect, in terms of, I'm pretty broad-minded about what kind of people I'll cover, and maybe even some of the kind of specific companies, we may get a slight more emphasis on some of the more exciting elements in the market, I think. I'm sure some people will be slightly infuriated and shake their fists, but as long as they're thinking all the time about whether, what I'm saying is right or wrong, that's fine -- they don't have to agree, but hopefully we'll be provoking some thoughts.

But I think the big question really, David, is -- what are you going to be doing?

David: How old am I?

Owain: Well, I know that, because I broke into the Kew records the other day with a torch. No, when you take, you've been doing this for a long time, and obviously you won't be here doing it. You probably will be in the corner shouting and poking me with a stick.

David: I told you, I will be lingering around like a bad smell around the office, yeah.

Owain: But you'll obviously have some more free time, when you're not hobnobbing with your investing chums, getting ready for the podcast. So what do you think you'll be doing?

David: Well, I'll tell you what, Owain -- I want to spread my wings a little, and apply what I've learnt here in the U.K. to other companies around the world, in particular Asia. I'll give you an example: What do you know about a company called Jardine Matheson?

Owain: I happen to know something about them.

David: OK, tell me what you know about Jardine Matheson?

Owain: Well, all I really know is that I was invested in a company called British Empire, which is an investment trust, which I'd gone into because it was a massive discount, so that's how I got into that. I was reading through their report, and they were invested in this company, and it was a big conglomerate, had a lot of different businesses. They reckon it was pretty good value as well -- it was at a discount to assets. So that pretty much sums up what I know about Jardine Matheson, which I think is more than the average man on the street, but I'm sure you know a little bit more.

David: If you ever get a chance, try and take out a movie, or get two books written by a man called James Clavell. He wrote a book called Noble House, and he wrote another one called Tai Pan. The movie starred James Brosnan -- a very young James Brosnan, and it was really about this company called Jardine Matheson. It was founded by two men: William Jardine and James Matheson, back in 1832.

Owain: So are you on the initial founders' register, David?

David: In Hong Kong, we call it a hong, not to be confused with hong, as in Hong Kong. A hong is a conglomerate; it is a big company. Jardine Matheson is a huge company -- it is massive. It has interests in Jardine Pacific, Jardine Motors, Dairy Farm (which is a supermarket in Hong Kong). It owns Hong Kong Land. It also has financial services, hotels, construction, transport services. There was a time when conglomerates were very popular here in the U.K. -- companies like Trafalgar House and Lonrho and all that.

Owain: Hanson?

David: Hanson, and they all got broken up. But in the case of Jardine Matheson, they kept it the way it was, and they just grew over time, so much so that if you had invested in this company back in the year 2000, its sales have increased threefold to around $38 billion, and its profits have jumped by a factor of nine, to around $9 billion. This is a massive, massive company. It's valued at around $35 billion, which in pounds would actually allow it to be one of the FTSE 100 companies.

Owain: And its share price return, over that 11 years?

David: Well, hold onto your hats, right? Its share price return, just capital gains alone, is 995% over the last 11 years. If you add in the dividends, that jumps to 1,513% over 11 years. So what I hope to do in future is to actually go around looking for these companies ... and by the way, that total return equates to an annual return of 26% a year, every year for 11 years.

Owain: I am thinking back to, that's around when I started investing, and I'm not sure I've increased my money tenfold. But I would imagine that, at the time, there were circumstances there, it was not that long after Hong Kong was ceded back to China, was it?

David: Well, Hong Kong was ceded back to China in 1997, so this was shortly after that.

Owain: Yeah, so there's probably a bit of a discount, people were wondering whether China would make a move on its operations.

David: But really, the beauty of this company is that it allows you to, because Jardine Matheson is taking most of the risk, it has exposure to some of the fastest-growing south-east Asian countries -- Indonesia, for instance, which is very difficult to invest in, but you can do so through a company like Jardine Matheson. Do you want another example?

Owain: No, I think it's probably, I mean this is an example of where I'd want to know why it was cheap 11 years ago, before I bought now, to try and understand if it's cheap now? Because I agree, if I'd put all of my money into that, I would have had a lot more free time. I'd probably have a tan, and I'd probably be more popular among my friends, and I would have made a better return.

David: You know, despite those kind of returns, I personally still think it is cheap today, simply because this company, it's a traditional company that generates cash, and it uses that cash to reward shareholders. So it is constantly sort of paying you money for owning the shares. I mean, what better way to invest?

Owain: Yeah, I agree, but a company that's paying a 4% yield today can still be a company that's paying 8% in two years, because the share price has fallen 50%, not just because it's increased its dividend. So I would just need to -- I'm not saying it's not a good company. As I say, these investors that I rate a lot obviously thought it was, because they'd put a lot of their fund into it. But I would be looking at that, and trying to understand how that discount to asset has changed, because I don't believe that it can make 26% a year from a conglomerate, without there being a valuation element to that. It was undervalued before, and now it's probably at most fair valued.

David: But I think you'll find, in this particular case, this company is growing. It even has interest here in the U.K. I mean, oddly enough, I didn't know it at the time, but it owns Jardine Motors, which in the U.K. has a presence called Scotthall, and Scotthall was the company that sold me my Mini.

Owain: Did you get a shareholder discount?

David: No, I didn't get a shareholder discount! Do you want another company out in Asia that is making all the news right now?

Owain: I would.

David: OK. It's a company called Fraser and Neave.

Owain: Ah, now this is making me think of that recent takeover news.

David: It is something related to the recent takeover news, but I was looking at this company months ago, even before the takeover. For those people who don't know, Fraser and Neave owns a significant number of shares in a business called Asian Pacific Brewers, and Asian Pacific Brewers brews things like Tiger Beer.

Owain: A very nice beer.

David: I'm sure it is very nice -- Tiger Beer, I don't drink. So Tiger Beer, Anchor Beer, and it also brews Heineken Beer out in Asia.

Owain: If you ever have a requirement to have anyone sample some of these beers for you, as an investing service, a bit of a scuttlebutt or whatever, then send me to the pub,

David: OK, so fairly recently, I mean, I don't want to encourage people out there to start drinking in the morning, but anyway, in the case of Fraser and Neave that has this significant shareholding in Asian Pacific Brewers, which Heineken wanted to buy, and there was a bid for this between Thai brewers and Heineken brewers, and in the end Fraser and Neave, which is also a conglomerate, sold its shares in Asian Pacific Brewers to Heineken. But apart from that, Fraser and Neave also owns things like Magnolia in Singapore. Magnolia isn't bland, by the way -- it is a dairy company, and it makes drinks out in Southeast Asia -- very, very popular drinks. It also owns land. It is almost like a quasi-REITs.

Owain: I mean, it sounds from its name like it's perhaps, like Jardine Matheson, it's another of these very old, almost colonial-era companies.

David: Very much so, I mean it was founded back in 1898 by two men called John Fraser and David Chalmers Neave, and this was back in 1898, when they had an aerated water bottling plant. From that, they've grown to this massive, massive conglomerate. So there are lots of opportunities out there, and this is really what I want to start fishing around looking for.

Owain: Yeah, because some people have found it a tough old place to invest, haven't they, over the years? Like Anthony Bolton, for instance, in China, he's had his problems?

David: I think one of the problems -- I'm not here to tutor Anthony Bolton about how to go looking for shares, but I think that you can take what you learn in the west and you can apply it to the east, but you must be very mindful of one thing, and that is that the culture over there is very different to the culture over here. Until you understand the culture, it is very difficult to invest. It's very much like the difference in culture between America and the UK.

Owain: I remember, it was probably about a year ago, that you took us to one of your secret dim-sum restaurants.

David: It's not secret! Anybody can go.

Owain: Well, you took us to a strange upstairs floor of it, and you deeply understood the culture by trying to make us eat those jellied chicken feet, or whatever they were.

David: It is just chicken's feet, it is stewed chicken's feet -- nothing wrong with that!

Owain: I know that's only one part of what are amazing cultures out there, but yeah, it does seem like you know your feet, if not your onions! So I'll be definitely tuning in and seeing what you can dig up.

David: OK, so I want to thank you for coming in today, introducing yourself to the listeners, and I wish you luck with your podcasts.

Owain: Thanks very much, David.

David: OK, so as always, I'll end today's podcast with a quote, and the quote comes from a man called Bruce Barton, who I think was a Republican congressman. He said, "When you are through changing, you are through," and this is what life is all about, isn't it?

Owain: It sounds like my investing method, as well! That's how I'm staying alive!

David: When you are through changing, you're through.

Owain: Your shareholdings.

David: So I am constantly changing, although my investing style has never changed at all.

Owain: Fair enough.

David: OK, so this has been Money Talk, I have been David Kuo, and my guest has been Owain Bennallack. Now, don't forget, if you have an investing question that you want answered, please send them in to, and Sonia Rehill will make sure they get answered. I can assure you, she will make sure they get answered.

Many thanks go out to the Money Talk team for arranging the podcasts; Owain Bennallack, for coming in today; but chiefly to all of you for listening. Happy investing!

David Kuo challenged his Motley Fool analysts to pinpoint the attractive sectors of 2012 -- and they delivered! Discover the industries they selected in this new Motley Fool guide -- "Top Sectors for 2012" -- while it's still free!

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Originally published