Great Investors' Best Ideas Conference Notes 2013: Price, Akre, Gabelli, Pickens, Russo & More ~ market folly

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Great Investors' Best Ideas Conference Notes 2013: Price, Akre, Gabelli, Pickens, Russo & More

Below are some brief notes from the 7th annual Great Investors' Best Ideas Conference in Dallas benefiting the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research and the Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation.

Notes From Great Investors' Best Ideas Conference

Michael Price (MFP Investors): He pitched three ideas:  long Hospira (HSP), long Songbird Estates (SBD.LN) and long Dolby Labs (DLB).  HSP has seen value guys buying it, transitioning away from growth investors as the investor base changes.  The company has good free cash flow and he thinks the stock can hit $60.  His thesis on Songbird is a discount to NAV story (around 30%).  Dolby (DLB) has a ton of cash and no debt with huge royalty streams (80% of revenue).  As tablets and PCs continue to grow, they'll make money.

Chuck Akre (Akre Capital Management):  His picks were Moody's (MCO) which he likes due to its oligopoly position, solid return on equity and pricing power,  as well as O'Reilly (ORLY), the auto parts supplier which recently bought CSK Auto and the integration has gone well and now they're buying back shares.  His presentation also focused on how you should stick with your circle of competence and acknowledge when you're unsure of things. Focus on 3 things in a business:  growth of capital (high ROIC), good management, and solid reinvestment (how they used past FCF).  The price you pay is very important.

T. Boone Pickens (BP Capital):  He pitched Diamondback Energy (FANG) which he likes for its growth potential, no debt and a lot of cash.  He also likes Basic Energy Services (BAS) as excess capacity has been taken out.  He also touched on his picks from last year: National Oilwell Varco (NOV) which he still likes, as well as Pioneer Resources (PXD), almost a double and he likes the Permian basin acres (continues to like this stock as well).

Karen Finerman (Metropolitan Capital Advisors):  She pitched North Atlantic Drilling (NADL.NS) traded in Norway which was a spin-off from Seadrill (SDRL).  The spread between non-Norway rates and Norway rates is very big and many contracts already locked in.  She likes the cheap valuation, big dividend (potential for it to grow), says there's limited downside due to the backlog. There's also a catalyst with an IPO coming for a US listing and it won't be too dilutive. 

Tom Russo (Gardner, Russo & Garnder):  He pitched Nestle (NSRGY) and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A/B).  It seems like Russo always pitches Nestle when he speaks somewhere.  He's a global value investor and is looking for companies like See's Candies and invests for the long-term.  They have a lot of European companies in their portfolio and like market volatility as it provides opportunities to long-term investors.  The last major portfolio buys they made were AB Imbev (BUD) and Mastercard (MA) 3 years ago.

Mario Gabelli (Gabelli Funds):  He presented Cablevision (CVC) as a potential buyout candidate with John Malone (and Charter Communications) active and pushing for consolidation.  Will the Dolans sell CVC?  Argues that the company is worth up to $23 in a buyout, versus current levels of around $16.

Caroline Cooley (Crestline Investors):  She's focused on event-driven plays.  She specifically mentioned Macquarie Infrastructure (MIC) which is involved with infrastructure building, has a nice yield and could see it head higher.  It's undervalued because it cut the dividend in '09 and has limited sell-side following. says this story is probably in the middle innings.

Tom Gayner (Markel):  He pitched General Electric (GE).  He pitched the same stock at GIBI in 2007 when it was $40 and now the stock's at $25.  They still own shares and now have a $23 cost basis.

For more conference notes, we also posted up notes from Invest For Kids Chicago (Lasry, Eisman, Cooperman).

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