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Retired executive favours tech and resource stocks

Michael Blair, 68

Occupation

Retired business executive

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The portfolio

Long positions in Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp., Pengrowth Energy Corp., Canadian Oil Sands Ltd., Penn West Petroleum Ltd., Detour Gold Corp. and Iamgold Corp.; short positions in Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. and Whirlpool Corp.

The investor

Michael Blair recently retired as chief executive officer of automotive-parts supplier Automodular Corp. He previously was a senior executive at several other Canadian companies, and a fighter pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He has been a private investor since 1971.

How he invests

Mr. Blair describes himself as "an aggressive investor." In addition to taking long positions in stocks, he goes short (sells borrowed stocks on the expectation they can be bought back later at a lower price). Call and put options are frequently used to take positions.

In today's market, his portfolio is keeping "a healthy cash balance." The Federal Reserve's intention to phase out its purchases of government bonds "presages higher interest rates and risks to equities as well as to bonds," says Mr. Blair.

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While holding cash back in reserve, his portfolio is increasing exposure to "mines and oils that are out of favour." These cyclical companies have been down and out "for about three years" and could be close to bottoming out.

Gold stocks are particularly depressed, and "mid-tier oil and gas explorers offer good income and trade at reasonable valuations," he adds. Recent additions include Detour Gold, Iamgold and "Penn West for a turnaround play."

Another focus is technology stocks. In 2013, his stock option trading "lost money on Apple shares but gained on Microsoft and Intel for a net gain of $219,000 [U.S.] on these three holdings."

Best move

A $310,000 gain resulted from trading Microsoft stock options during 2013.

Worst move

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"Shorting 15,000 Salesforce.com shares at a price of $39 [now around $55, for a loss of about $240,000]."

Advice

"Stay liquid and focused on quality. Pay attention to fundamentals. Avoid fixed income. Be patient and do not jump on the bandwagon of momentum plays."

Want to share your strategies? E-mail mccolumn@yahoo.com

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