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Four decades of investing with Gordon Crawford

Gordon Crawford
Portfolio manager
Based in:
Los Angeles
Investment experience:

WILL MCKENNA: Gordy Crawford has been an investment analyst and portfolio manager with American Funds for 40 years. Gordy has decided to retire at the end of 2012, and he’s here with us today to reflect back on his career and share some of his investment experience and insights with us. Gordy, welcome, and thanks for being here today.


WILL MCKENNA: I know you spent many years covering media and entertainment. Love to hear your perspective on the big developments that you saw over the course of your career in that business.

GORDON CRAWFORD: It’s a very exciting and very dynamic industry. It’s an industry that I’ve come to appreciate over the years, is always being transformed by technology, which is what makes it so exciting.  

You get to when I came in — started in the fall of 1972 — and cable television, which was just a retransmission business for $6 a month, all of a sudden started creating its own programming. And you had HBO in 1978 and WTBS with Ted Turner and then CNN in 1980 — and all of a sudden, you had a whole new industry form.

And I was fortunate enough that I was there basically at the birth of an industry. Nobody followed these companies. And they were growing rapidly, and it was a very exciting time. So cable and cable television, even the movie industry when I first started following it: There were no other technologies, so 90% of the business was theatrical. It was just what they got in the movie theaters. And then they started selling for television, and then cable came along with pay TV. Of course, next they had the VCR and then the DVD, and the home-video business was born. That ended up being 50% of the business of movie companies.

So there’s always been this dynamic change, and of course, we’ve seen it in spades in the last 10 years with the advent of the Internet — again just completely reshuffling the deck in media and entertainment: destroying some industries, like recorded music and newspapers, and creating $600 billion market caps in Apple and 200-plus market caps in Google. So it’s always been a fascinating, rapidly evolving business, and peopled with fascinating people.

So I’ve been very, very lucky to have spent 40 years intimately involved in that.

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