Financial guru taps Canadian truck builder (January 30, 2002)

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CALGARY, Alta. — Martin Ferguson, fund manager with Calgary-based Mawer Investment Management, says a small Canadian company customizing refuse trucks is among the best buys for small-cap investors.

Among stocks mentioned by Ferguson in an earlier media interview, his choice of Wittke Inc. has since surged 187 per cent to a 52-week high of $10.20 on Jan. 25. The maker of garbage trucks and parts for the trucking industry, formerly known as Northside Group Inc., ended trading yesterday at $9.20.

Wittke manufacturers truck-mounted equipment for use in commercial applications.
Current product offerings include, commercial front load refuse vehicles, residential front load refuse vehicles, manual side load refuse vehicles, automated side load refuse vehicles, street sweepers and related containers and equipment all badged with the Wittke name.

Some of the firm’s larger clients include the likes of Waste Management Inc., Allied Waste Industries Inc., Crane Carrier Company and various regional waste haulers, municipalities and truck dealers.

The final assembly facility for Wittke’s products is located in Medicine Hat, Alta., while three additional parts manufacturing plants are based in Kelowna, B.C.; Saint-Jerome, Que.; and Wytheville, Va.

Wittke Inc. is headquartered in Calgary and employs approximately 970 people.

While the financial guru insists this stock could outperform those of large companies over the next couple of years, “it’s not a slam dunk.

“Starting at the bottom of a recession, small-capitalization stocks historically tend to do well … (There is) still risk in all equity markets, including small caps,” especially if the North American economy doesn’t recover as people expect, Ferguson adds.

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