Date
17 October 2017
Lennart Israelsson carefully picks his stocks based on factors such as dividend, price-earnings ratio and price-to-book ratio. Photo: Internet
Lennart Israelsson carefully picks his stocks based on factors such as dividend, price-earnings ratio and price-to-book ratio. Photo: Internet

How this 100-year-old Swedish investor profited from crisis

The success story of Lennart Israelsson is being widely shared among netizens.

Previously a station manager and train dispatcher, the 100-year-old Swedish man bought stocks for the first time in 1946.

He survived several major setbacks during his 70-year investment career and built his portfolio to about HK$150 million (US$19.33 million).

During major crises, including the crash of the Swedish stock market in 1990, the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, the Lehman Brothers debacle in 2008 and the ensuing global financial crisis, Israelsson’s portfolio lost as much as 81 percent, even though it was widely diversified.

But during each of those huge collapses, Israelsson took the opportunity to buy more rather than cash out in panic.

That is how he grew his portfolio from about HK$500,000 to HK$150 million in 30 years.

Let’s not forget Israelsson made the impressive gains after he retired.

Normally, older people tend to be more conservative and defensive in their investment approach.

Israelsson’s unparalleled optimism could be a major factor behind his crisis strategy. He believes the market will always come back.

I can’t help wonder if Sweden’s welfare policy has anything to do with Israelsson’s bold moves.

Hongkongers who can barely make enough to make ends meet, or have to always make sure they save enough for retirement, probably can never handle a stock market crisis, let alone buy into a depressed market.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 6

Translation by Raymond Tsoi

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

RA

Columnist at the Hong Kong Economic Journal

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