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Brandes Takes Another Bath; This One Is in Royal Bank of Scotland

San Diego's Brandes Investment Partners, which has been losing money on major holdings, and also losing clients, has a big position in another loser, Royal Bank of Scotland, according to a June 30 filing. At that date, Brandes was the largest institutional shareholder of the bank, with 50.6 million shares. On June 30, the bank's stock was selling for $4.19. On Friday it closed at $1.45. Brandes, which specializes in buying stocks when they are out of favor, has had some real disasters: at last report, it owned 4 percent of Freddie Mac, 25.9 million shares. It closed Friday at $1.16. Brandes had almost 5 percent of Washington Mutual, purchased at almost $28. Friday it was 8 cents. Brandes bought 9.1 percent of Countrywide just under $18; it merged into Bank of America under $8. Brandes has also tripped up in newspaper stocks. It had almost 15 percent of McClatchy, originally buying in at $44.50. It cut that holding in half. The stock closed at $4.10 Friday. Brandes holds 11.09 percent of Gannett, buying in at $53 to $58. Friday it closed just under $13. Over the last year from June 30, the Brandes U.S. value equity portfolio has plunged by almost 25 percent, compared with a 7.24 percent drop for the Standard & Poor's 500. Of course, the overall market has been a disaster since then, so the Brandes losses are presumably much worse. On the website, founder Charles Brandes says, "Some may say that we invested too early in this [financial] sector. To a certain degree, that is accurate. We believe we saw the overall landscape for financials clearly, but misjudged certain elements." Brandes says that 3 or 4 years ago, he saw some things that he thought were "crazy" in the housing market. But he was shocked that it lasted as long as it did. The firm had $125 billion under management late last year. As of June 30, that was down to $86.4 billion.

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San Diego's Brandes Investment Partners, which has been losing money on major holdings, and also losing clients, has a big position in another loser, Royal Bank of Scotland, according to a June 30 filing. At that date, Brandes was the largest institutional shareholder of the bank, with 50.6 million shares. On June 30, the bank's stock was selling for $4.19. On Friday it closed at $1.45. Brandes, which specializes in buying stocks when they are out of favor, has had some real disasters: at last report, it owned 4 percent of Freddie Mac, 25.9 million shares. It closed Friday at $1.16. Brandes had almost 5 percent of Washington Mutual, purchased at almost $28. Friday it was 8 cents. Brandes bought 9.1 percent of Countrywide just under $18; it merged into Bank of America under $8. Brandes has also tripped up in newspaper stocks. It had almost 15 percent of McClatchy, originally buying in at $44.50. It cut that holding in half. The stock closed at $4.10 Friday. Brandes holds 11.09 percent of Gannett, buying in at $53 to $58. Friday it closed just under $13. Over the last year from June 30, the Brandes U.S. value equity portfolio has plunged by almost 25 percent, compared with a 7.24 percent drop for the Standard & Poor's 500. Of course, the overall market has been a disaster since then, so the Brandes losses are presumably much worse. On the website, founder Charles Brandes says, "Some may say that we invested too early in this [financial] sector. To a certain degree, that is accurate. We believe we saw the overall landscape for financials clearly, but misjudged certain elements." Brandes says that 3 or 4 years ago, he saw some things that he thought were "crazy" in the housing market. But he was shocked that it lasted as long as it did. The firm had $125 billion under management late last year. As of June 30, that was down to $86.4 billion.

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