Canadian investors often like to compare and contrast our markets to those of our American neighbours. And being the polite and humble group that we are, we often focus too much on our shortcomings rather than highlighting our strengths. Year to date, the performance of the Canadian equity index has trailed that of the U.S. However, as value investors, we believe that negative sentiment and underperformance can sometimes create attractive investment opportunities.
Sionna believes market pricing is as much about human excess as it is about underlying security fundamentals. One feature of human weakness is that current market trends are often erroneously interpreted as the new secular normal. In reality, these trends are likely cyclical phenomena, which are so infrequent that present decision makers are unaware of their cyclical nature.
It has never been easier to spread a message to the masses. Turn on the television and chances are you will find “facts” being scrutinized, so much so that consumers are willing to pay for high-quality, investigative journalism. Sionna is familiar with the investigative process as we have always felt the need to dig beneath the surface when looking for investment ideas. One topic we have been investigating recently is the robustness of the price-to-sales ratio (“P/S ratio”) as a tool to unearth investment ideas.
The idea that practice improves performance is widely accepted, but it’s important to recognize that not just any practice enhances abilities. The act of doing the same thing over and over again may not necessarily lead to improvement beyond a certain point. Instead, a different type of practice, carried out over a sufficient period of time, is what can lead to improvement. So what, then, is the right sort of practice?
Although we often attribute exceptional performance to innate talent, it is likely that passion, perseverance and just plain hard work is the true differentiator of exceptional performers. In our experience, these important attributes are commonly found when partnering with owner-operated businesses.
Sionna believes in the power of incentives. But what about unintended consequences like the cobra effect? By their very nature these situations are difficult to avoid since the outcomes are never intentional.