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INVESTING WITH BRIO IN RIO (int'l edition)

Every day, Florian Bartunek turns his back on Banco Pactual's 28th-floor trading room to spend an hour reading management books such as G. Bennett Stewart's Quest for Value and Albert Dunlap's Mean Business. Bartunek, head of equity asset management at the Rio de Janeiro bank, believes that to pick stocks in Brazil he must study global trends. ''The books are like a medicine I can't miss,'' says Bartunek, 28.

By any measure, the medicine is working. In the second quarter, Bartunek's Eternity Fund climbed 22%, while his Infinity Fund was up 19%. For the past 12 months, the funds are up 79% and 71%, respectively. Infinity also earned the top rating in BUSINESS WEEK's annual offshore fund scoreboard (BW--Nov. 11). And while Brazil has taken a hit lately amid worries that Asia's currency crisis might spread to Latin America, Bartunek is optimistic. ''Brazil has another four or five years of a bull market,'' he insists.

ELECTRICITY. A picky investor--he has only 15 stocks in his $650 million portfolio--Bartunek studies how globalization will affect Brazilian companies. So when electronics retailer Lojas Arapua did an initial public offering in 1995, Bartunek grilled management and talked with suppliers, competitors, and foreign counterparts before buying 7% of Arapua's shares. Although Arapua's shares plunged 30% in the market's recent sell-off, they are still 50% higher than when Bartunek bought.

Right now, Bartunek is buying electric utilities. He thinks their monopoly status will bring solid earnings gains, just as telecom companies face competition. He also gets a charge out of what he does. ''This job isn't work for me,'' Bartunek says. ''I do it for fun.'' And, of course, for profit.

By Ian Katz in Rio de Janeiro


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Updated July 25, 1997 by bwwebmaster
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