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Abitibi: A perennial loser that may make winners of the patient

October 28, 2006 | About:

Marty Whitman, the octogenarian investor and Wall Street legend, was once prodded on the stock-picking style of his firm, Third Avenue Management. "We are offbeat," he said.

That's one word for it. Canadian investors, seeing what he has been up to lately, might have a few others. "Barking mad" comes to mind. "Insane" works. "Masochistic" fits, too, because one of the stocks Third Avenue has been buying by the truckload is -- wait for it -- the pride of Montreal: Abitibi-Consolidated.

Oh, please, try not to laugh. It's impolite. Try not to tell yourself the Americans have been suckered again, buying into a Canadian manufacturer because it "looks cheap" when it is, in fact, one of the best living examples of wealth destruction in modern capitalism.

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