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By John Coumarianos | 10-21-2009 01:07 PM

Bigger Fish on Sale in the Recession

Morningstar 2008 Manager of the Year Charlie Dreifus discusses going up the market-cap ladder for three picks during the severe market downturn.

John Coumarianos: As many good value investors know, you find most of those anomalies, those mispricings, those inefficiencies, in the small-cap area of the market. You've certainly dedicated most of your career to small-cap stocks. But very recently, you have picked up some larger names, with the market carnage earlier this year. I think Cintas was one, Tiffany, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Could you speak about one of those and what you found attractive?

Charles Dreifus: Well, all of them, particularly Bed Bath & Beyond and Tiffany, are names that are pretty much household names. Cintas, if you go to a supermarket or someplace, you often see their trucks in front because they're putting in the new replacement carpets and so forth.

Those companies were always sort of admired, but they were always too expensive. They were too expensive on two levels. The valuation--again, I don't use a P/E, but to put it in terms of P/Es, were too high for me, and therefore the shares times the share price gave it a market cap that was beyond my normal reach.

The carnage that the market went through did bring companies like that down to the level that, yes, they were above my normal cutoff point, but reasonable in terms of adding to... I wasn't buying IBM or something like that. Clearly, it wasn't a large cap. It may have been... Wall Street has developed a SMID cap, between small and mid-size.

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