John Woolf was the elder son of Charles. M. Woolf a leading film producer of the 1920s.
John Woolf himslef was an extremely successful movie mogul, businessman and 'amateur' Stock Market investor.
He produced films such as African Queen, Room at the Top, Oliver, The Jackal and many, many others.
A young John Woolf joined his father's company, Gaumont-British in 1935 and it was there that he gained experience of the film industry.
In the late 1950s Woolf got himself involved in TV, a fast growing industry in the UK at that time. The vehicle he and is co-partners used was Anglia Television. He left them in 1988 after a very successful couple fo decades.
1968 he gained control of a
small listed "shell" company called British and American Film Press,
later to be re-named British and American Film Holdings. He retained
some of the rights to the productions he had made at Anglia TV.
He increased the company's net asset value from a small £500,000 to £23 Million in a little over 20 years.
Woolf's shell company had no portfolio of shares in 1968 when he took over control. But it did have the cash flow coming in from his TV rights.
He began investing in Investment Trusts because they traditionally sold at a 20-25% discount to net asset value.
Woolf set himself three criteria before he invested:
1. The discount to net assets should not be less than 20%
2. 20-25% of the company's assets should be invested in the United States
3. The yield should be less than 5%
Woolf built the portfolio of British American Film Holdings from 1979 to 1989 into something phenomenal, easily beating the Financial Times All Share Index and the F.T. Investment Trust Index.
His portfolio consisted of 45% in Investment Trusts, and Leisure was the next biggest component. The rest of the portfolio was a scattering of financial and insurance shares.
John Woolf's investment policy was best described as cautious.
He liked taking advantage of tax savings as Investment Trusts were exempt of capital gains. And also, their shares could be bought for 20-25% discount to their net asset value.
But he was careful in which Trusts he bought - hence his success.
The investment success of British and American Film Holdings is a good example of how an investment "amateur" can outperform professionals.
A perfect example of what Common Sense Retirement Investing is all about.