BlackBerry shareholder Prem Watsa, an investor with a long view

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SummarySince their 2006 low of C$100, Fairfax's shares have more than quadrupled, and the stock is up 100-fold over 28 years.

Just over a year ago, Prem Watsa said Research in Motion Ltd, now re-named BlackBerry, was a "Canadian success story," a good buy and a likely turnaround story, despite declining market share.

BlackBerry's fortunes have only deteriorated since then, but Watsa, chief executive of top BlackBerry shareholder Fairfax Financial, is an old hand at looking wrong today and right tomorrow.

Fairfax, both an insurance holding company and Watsa's investment vehicle, was on the losing end of bets against the market in the mid 2000s as Watsa waited for the U.S. mortgage industry to collapse.

The company's stock fell by 50 percent between mid-2003 and mid-2006 as Watsa's purchases of credit default swaps flattened profits, while rivals feasted on a housing-fed bull market.

But when the market began to weaken in 2007, Fairfax began notching up investment gains, pulling in billion-dollar profits in 2007 and 2008. Then with markets still reeling and other investors licking their wounds, Watsa started to plow money back into equities, bringing another strong year in 2009.

Since their 2006 low of C$100, Fairfax's shares have more than quadrupled, and the stock is up 100-fold over 28 years.

Indeed, Watsa had already shown his investment chops by selling stock ahead of the 1987 stock market crash and buying Japanese puts - or rights to sell stocks at guaranteed prices - ahead of the Tokyo market's collapse in 1990.

CANADA'S BUFFET?

Often called Canada's version of Warren Buffet, Watsa preaches a long view that suggests it may be too early to assess his decision to take on a leading 10 percent stake in BlackBerry.

As it sits now, BlackBerry has not been a turnaround story under Watsa's watch. Since January 2012, a period when Fairfax has raised its stake in the company from just over 2 percent to just under 10 percent, BlackBerry's share price is down about 25 percent.

"Prem invests for the long term," said Paul Holden, an analyst at CIBC World Markets who follows Fairfax. "He's held his major stake now for what I would say is a fairly short period of time relative to his investment horizon, so I would say it's probably too early to put any score on that investment."

Watsa stepped down from the BlackBerry board on Monday, citing a potential conflict of interest, as the company said it was exploring the sale of itself and other options.

Holden said Fairfax, with a market capitalization of C$8.7 billion, would be too small

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