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The Globe and Mail

An investing style to match one's personality

Robert Gibb, 61

The portfolio

Includes several big banks, insurers, telecoms, real estate investment trusts and oil and gas companies, as well as Abbott Laboratories Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp. and Coca-Cola Co.

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The investor

Robert Gibb's career as a teacher was cut short by a motorcycle accident when he was just 40. That led him to being on long-term disability and eventually taking early retirement. Today, he and his wife have a few small sideline businesses they run from their home in Victoria built around their love of ballroom dancing. But from early on, Mr. Gibb has heeded the advice of a friend who was in insurance industry who told him "You're on a fixed income, so you need to save as much as possible."

How he invests

Mr. Gibb makes wide use of DRIPs which see any dividends he earns automatically go toward purchasing more shares of that company. But DRIPs have other features he's keen on – no commissions, and the ability to purchase partial shares. Every month he has a set amount of money to invest, which he puts to work as a self-described "cherry-picking accumulator."

A typical buy

Recently Mr. Gibb put some more money into Sun Life. While it's down more than its competitors, he says, "It's probably not going to go broke, and the whole insurance industry is pretty depressed." He feels the company is making adjustments to help things improve, and that a lot of the price depression may be the market's expectation the company will cut its dividend. But rather than worry him, he thinks that's where the opportunity lies. "Most of the downside is probably there already. If they don't cut the dividend you're getting 7 per cent." And if the dividend is cut? He points to H&R REIT which ran into financing problems for The Bow, which when completed will be the tallest building in Canada outside of Toronto. The units fell to under $5, which is when Mr. Gibb piled in. "And soon after they did cut their distribution, but the units then took off." H&R closed Friday at $23.20.

Best move

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For Mr. Gibb, his best returns have come from a library card. "It didn't cost me anything and I got a fortune in information. The more I read the more I understood."

Worst move

In 1987, Mr. Gibb was working with a full-service broker who talked him into buying into the Renaissance Global Resource Fund. The previous year it had run up a whopping 110 per cent, and while he knew it wasn't a smart move, "She talked me into it." The next year of course, it headed south, down some 70 per cent. "I learned I have to trust myself."


"Find an investing style that matches your personality. One of the worst things you can do is jump around, investing in one thing this week, another thing the next."

Special to The Globe and Mail

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