Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Got Wood?

From the Financial Post:

The day before the loonie soared to US$1.10, Jimmy Pattison kicked off a month-long buying spree. From Nov. 6 to the first week in December, he shelled out a cool $38-million for 4.5 million shares in Canfor Corp.

All this as the loonie was committing murder on the bottom lines of forestry companies across Canada -- not least Canfor, which has struggled to slash costs in the face of what many are calling history's worst forestry downturn. What was he thinking?

Stephen Atkinson, a BMO analyst, doesn't get it. "My personal view is you have to be brain-dead to go into this industry," he said. "It is losing huge amounts of money, while government hasn't figured it out and they're still trying to tax it to death."

But if Jimmy Pattison -- one of Canada's pre-eminent billionaires -- is brain-dead, he's in good company. Over the past year, and especially in recent months, some of the names in the pantheon of Canadian -- and global -- investing have quietly parked their cash in an industry that has not generated a positive headline in a very long time.

Peter Kellogg, a New York investing legend Forbes ranks the 108th-richest man in the United States, is one. He has been buying shares in Mercer International Inc., a U.S.-headquartered pulp producer with assets in Canada....MORE