Contrarian Capitalists: 3 Stocks Profiting from the Unconventional Approach


  • Swim against the current with these three unique contrarian stocks.
  • Roper Technologies (ROP): This software firm’s roll-up strategy reduces risk in an otherwise boom-and-bust industry.
  • Texas Instruments (TXN): The analog chip giant’s countercyclical investment strategy has paid huge long-term dividends.
  • Brown-Forman (BF-A, BF-B): The Brown family has kept this spirits leader fiercely independent from industry trends.
contrarian stocks - Contrarian Capitalists: 3 Stocks Profiting from the Unconventional Approach

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There are many ways to make it in business. Most management teams tend to paint within the lines, copying and mimicking the strategies that have worked for industry leaders. And there’s nothing wrong with that. People use tried and true playbooks for a reason.

That said, some of the best investments can come when management is willing to take a different approach. Investors should take note when companies can take a counterintuitive direction and consistently garner success with it.

These three contrarian stocks have delivered tremendous long-term returns. And they’ve done it by bucking common industry conventions and norms. Thus, these three contrarian stocks are great additions to a portfolio, adding diversification and novel thinking to existing investment styles.

Roper Technologies (ROP)

A man examines a digital screen with different icons for software.
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Roper Technologies (NASDAQ:ROP) is a conglomerate that operates a wide variety of different software businesses. The company’s software portfolio spans a vast number of verticals ranging from K-12 school management to power plants, insurance underwriting, graphic design and many other things.

Decades ago, the company started as Roper Industries and was a manufacturing outfit for items like gas stoves and gardening equipment. Gradually, management realized that selling software and related services tends to be more profitable than the underlying industrial tools and equipment.

As a result, Roper transitioned almost entirely into high-margin software operations. The latest stage in Roper’s evolution came last year, as the company moved its stock listing from the New York Stock Exchange to the Nasdaq. ROP stock got added to the Nasdaq 100, giving it inclusion in leading exchange-traded funds (ETFs) tied to the performance of that tech benchmark.

What makes Roper’s approach so unique? Management’s greatest skill is in mergers & acquisitions. It has rolled up dozens of software businesses across all sorts of under-the-radar industries. The assortment of different tech operations insulates Roper from a downturn in any one industry or application while giving it steady cash flow for its capital expenditures and ever-increasing dividend payments.

Texas Instruments (TXN)

Texas Instruments logo on its world headquarters located in Dallas, Texas.
Source: Katherine Welles /

Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN) is the world’s largest analog semiconductor company. Analog chips are important, as they allow devices to capture real-world data, such as climate information, and convert that into real-time data. Analog chips are key drivers of innovation in smart/connected cars, Internet of Things applications, and communications equipment — among other uses.

The company has long stood out from peers due to its counterintuitive capital allocation strategies. Texas Instruments has a history of investing heavily in new manufacturing capacity during industry downturns while throttling back during growth periods.

Texas Instruments is also a massive repurchaser of its own stock. In fact, the company’s outstanding share count is down from 1.7 billion in 2004 to 917 million shares today, meaning it has bought back almost half of all its stock over the past 20 years. Over the same period, TXN stock has rallied from about $30 to $195 while also delivering a sizable dividend.

Despite this tremendous track record, some investors are displeased. Activist fund Elliott Investment Management recently took a position in TXN stock and is urging management to dial back its new investments in U.S.-based manufacturing facilities.

Elliott’s activism misses the point, however. Texas Instruments has delivered spectacular results due to its contrarian approach. Assuming Texas Instruments rebuts Elliott and sticks with its compelling countercyclical strategy, TXN stock should continue to outperform for many years to come.

Brown-Forman (BF-A, BF-B)

Person holding cellphone with logo of American spirits company Brown-Forman (BF-B) Corporation on screen in front of webpage. Focus on phone display. Unmodified photo.
Source: T. Schneider /

Brown-Forman (NYSE:BF-A, NYSE:BF-B) is one of North America’s leading spirits companies. The firm’s original roots trace to the 1800s. It was one of the few alcohol companies strong enough to survive the United States’ prohibition period.

Since then, Brown-Forman transformed Jack Daniels from being a small regional whiskey brand to a global powerhouse. The company has also made a huge splash in the tequila market, making a crucial acquisition in that space in the late 2000s, just before tequila took off and became an international sensation.

Unlike most spirits firms, Brown-Forman runs a narrow and highly focused spirits operation. The company has repeatedly divested lower-performing divisions, such as its former vodka and wine businesses, in order to double down on its best assets.

Brown-Forman can afford to play the long game rather than maximize near-term revenue growth because the Brown family retains control of the company. The family has run the company for generations and prioritized steady earnings and dividend growth over empire-building or chasing hot trends.

With the spirits industry currently stuck in a hangover from pandemic-related disruptions, investors have lost confidence in the space. Shares of numerous alcohol and spirits companies are near multi-year lows. Some of these companies are facing real structural headwinds.

However, Brown-Forman’s high-quality management and powerful brand portfolio give it the right tools to come out of this slump and get the party going for shareholders once again.

On the date of publication, Ian Bezek held a long position in ROP, BF-B and TXN stock. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.

Ian Bezek has written more than 1,000 articles for and Seeking Alpha. He also worked as a Junior Analyst for Kerrisdale Capital, a $300 million New York City-based hedge fund. You can reach him on Twitter at @irbezek.

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