Robert Bush 6:31 p.m., May 18
Brandes Extremely Bullish. But Is That Comforting?
Brandes Investment Partners in its first quarter message to investors says it is "unflinchingly enthusiastic about the values we are finding" in the stock market. Today will be looked upon as one of history's "most timely and rewarding periods to invest." However, Brandes says it is "frustrated and disappointed with the results we have delivered on your behalf...we are not pleased nor proud of our performance." The money manager, which looks for so-called undervalued stocks, had a dismal year in 2008. Brandes's U.S. value stocks lost 55.4% versus the Standard & Poor's 500's loss of 37%. Brandes's small caps lost 59.5% versus the Russell 2000's minus 33.8%. Brandes's various categories of bonds underperformed starkly, too. The firm took big positions in beaten-down financial stocks, but got hit hard in Freddie Mac, Washington Mutual, Countrywide, and Royal Bank of Scotland. It remains bullish on the financials. Brandes was among the largest investors in newspapers such as Gannett and McClatchy, and took a hosing. It also lost in its big bets on Ford, General Motors, and Kodak. It has $40.6 billion under management, down 51% from 2007 and 60% from 2005.