Getting Contrarian With A Market Guru

Most of history’s best investors have made their hay by going against the crowd. And in his latest column for Forbes.com, Validea CEO John Reese takes a look at some intriguing new research that contrarian guru David Dreman has published, and a Dreman-inspired strategy that has a strong track record of beating the market.

“After more than a dozen years of studying history’s most successful investment strategies, one of the most important pieces of advice I can give you is this: Don’t follow the crowd,” Reese writes. “[And] when it comes to the field of contrarian investing, perhaps no one has provided as much insightful research as Forbes’ own David Dreman.” Reese notes that in Dreman’s new book, Contrarian Investment Strategies: The Psychological Edge, Dreman updates data he had previously published, showing that contrarian strategies continued to beat the market and post solid returns in the 2000s, despite the talk of new normals and new investment paradigms.

“But some of the most intriguing parts of Dreman’s new book involve new research and analysis, particular as pertaining to investor psychology, as he gives powerful evidence as to why contrarian investing works,” Reese adds. “A big part of the explanation involves the concept of ‘Affect’ — essentially, the way that our minds automatically tag representations of objects or events with positive or negative feelings — and how numerous studies show how Affect often overrides the rational-analytic part of our brains (which should be making our investment decisions).”

Reese also discusses the “Guru Strategy” that he bases on Dreman’s earlier work, which has handily beaten the market since its 2003 inception. And he offers a handful of current picks from the model, including much-maligned oil and gas giant BP. “The London-based oil and gas giant’s name evokes a variety of negative emotions — disappointment, anger, and much worse — thanks to its role in the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010,” Reese says. “But from an investor’s point of view, all of the negative feeling toward the company has driven its share price down well below where it should be given its fundamentals–and that’s just the sort of opportunity Dreman looks for.” To read the full article and see all the picks, click here.