Entrepreneur and investor Margot Micallef co-wrote a book on bouncing back from life's disasters and how to find opportunity in the rubble. It's the Landing that Counts also reflects her investing style, which is to find companies that need fixing up or can grow with some financial encouragement. Her personal investment vehicle is Oliver Capital Partners, a Calgary-based private equity investment firm she founded in 2003. It invests in businesses across a number of industries such as food, including the Gabriella's Kitchen specialty food brand, and real estate. The Globe recently spoke with Ms. Micallef on her investing style, and choices.
What's in your portfolio now?
I find that I do best when I manage my own money. Most of that is in private equity, through Oliver Capital, which is in a variety of different companies. We are either intrigued by an industry or a company. We love the food sector today, especially the better-for-you food space through Gabriella's Kitchen, which makes alternatives to traditional pasta. We also have the Western Canadian rights to the Subway restaurant franchise. We also like real estate – rental real estate in particular. [Through a company called Chrismar Properties] we tend to look for opportunities in the lower-end of the market in Calgary, which is less susceptible to market changes. The reason we like rental in Calgary is because it's always been a tight market.
What about stocks?
Through a financial adviser, I invest in public company stocks. Most of that is in resource stocks. That is primarily because I really don't understand that sector and need someone else to assist me with identifying where the opportunities are. That is kind of bizarre because I live in Calgary – the capital for investment in the resource sector – but I came to this city late in life. By the time I went into business for myself I realized there were a lot of people who knew a lot about resources, in particular oil and gas. It's an important industry to be a part of. About 10 per cent of my portfolio is in public company stocks, including resources and technology. I have some private holdings in technology as well, but those are anomalies.
Are you a short or long-term investor?
I tend to go into a stock and stay with it for a long period of time, and ride out the good times and bad times. This is a great time to be doubling down on the resource stocks. I don't think the downturn is at all permanent. I think it will bounce back. My attitude with my financial adviser is, "Tell me how much money I have to spend when I retire." In the meantime, I don't worry about the market going up or down and I don't look at my stocks on a regular basis. It's a long-term investment for me.
Why are you more invested in private equity?
Over the years I started putting more of my money into private investments that I oversaw just because of the disproportionate returns that I was realizing [in favour of private equity]. It comes down to what's my comfort level of letting someone else manage my investments and how much of my portfolio am I prepared to hand over to somebody else, and it's come out to roughly 10 per cent.
What is your best investment move?
Starting Oliver Capital in 2003 and taking control of my own investments.
What is the worst move?
Investing in a friend's wine store without doing due diligence. I realized that money is money. Just because you've investing in a friend's business doesn't mean you treat that investment any differently. It was probably the hardest lesson I've learned.
This interview has been edited and condensed.