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George Gutowski, 57


Writer, blogger, investor

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The portfolio

Toronto-Dominion Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Manulife Financial, Sun Life Financial, S&P 500 ETF.

The investor

George Gutowski focuses on the financial sector because that's where he spent much of his working life. "You tell yourself you know a bit about them, and so can read between the lines of what the executives are saying."

How he sifts the news

Mr. Gutowski drills down on press releases. He'll look at just who the quotes are attributed to, and how promotional they are. He'll also assess the main points in the headlines and bullets.

Example: Recently in his blog, Mr. Gutowski wrote about Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. He found the company was running into delays and problems. However, while it was trying to soothe investors by claiming that late delivery fees are within expectations, it noted that the margins for 2011 787 and 747-8 deliveries are nil. "While Boeing may be managing cancellation and late fees on a cash basis, we have no idea what they are promising for future prices allowing customers to average down."

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How he played the recession

Mr. Gutowski hung on to what he owned, but didn't put much new money in. Why not? While one old market cliché is to invest when there's "blood in the street," Mr. Gutowski notes, "people like me with a European background have the psychology that serious things do happen, and sometimes there really is blood on the streets."

Best move

"Sticking with dividend-paying stocks. These are stocks that can return money to stockholders, and that proves that things are going well."

Worst move

Some three decades back, Mr. Gutowski put some money into MURBs (multiple-unit residential buildings), a tax-shelter introduced in the late seventies to counteract a contraction in rental housing development. But they were expensive, difficult to sell, and there were often cost overruns and income shortfalls. "There were always additional calls for cash," Mr. Gutowski says. "Extra tax advantages are usually used to mask things."

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"I think people don't spend enough time reading, researching and being skeptical."

Special to The Globe and Mail

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