Delivering Alpha Conference Notes: Richard Perry, Eric Mindich, Bill Ackman, Nelson Peltz, Jeff Smith & More ~ market folly

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Delivering Alpha Conference Notes: Richard Perry, Eric Mindich, Bill Ackman, Nelson Peltz, Jeff Smith & More

The 2015 Delivering Alpha Conference hosted by Institutional Investor and CNBC is currently taking place and we wanted to highlight some of the thoughts from top investment managers on the best ideas panel and other panels.  Here's a brief summary of what each manager said:

Delivering Alpha Conference 2015 Notes

Richard Perry (Perry Capital): He feels Puerto Rico could possibly be the 51st state and thinks it's an interesting place to invest; he said GO bonds are safe and will trade at par. Perry argued that Greek bonds trading at 50 cents on the dollar could eventually return to par as there's a 'meaningful possibility' that a Greek bailout would actually be followed through.

Eric Mindich (Eton Park Capital):  He said that it's mostly individual investors in the turbulent Chinese A shares market.  He called the H shares more interesting.  He's a bit troubled by the future of the euro due to the situation in Greece.

Nelson Peltz (Trian Fund):  Peltz talked about his activist investment in DuPont (DD) and noted that he'd "rather be rich than right."  He continues to like PepsiCo (PEP) and thinks the company can deliver earnings growth each quarter but could do better.  Commenting on McDonald's (MCD), he said that the culture needs to be flipped on its head and it could take years.  Peltz feels Pentair (PNR) has the potential to become a platform company.  He said he has two new positions, one industrial and one he's not naming which account for 1/3 of his capital.  We recently highlighted some of Trian Fund's portfolio activity here.

Bill Ackman (Pershing Square): Ackman likes businesses that will withstand the test of time and he avoids tech since it's 'too dynamic.'  He mentioned that a lot of people haven't been talking about one of his newest investments: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and he really likes these.  Peltz chimed in that he doesn't know anything about the company but thinks Fannie is his favorite of Ackman's investments.  While some investors like Bruce Berkowitz (Fairholme Fund) have played the preferred shares, Ackman has a large position in common stock.  He says it offers the most upside but also conceded that it has the most downside too.  Ackman also voiced concerns on China, citing leverage and lack of transparency.  He says that almost every company he owns today is some sort of 'platform company' and we've highlighted this concept via Ackman's presentation at the Sohn Investment Conference.

Jamie Dinan (York Capital):  He keeps a lower media profile so it's always good to get his thoughts.  He avoids leverage since he lost a lot on margin in 1987 which was a very valuable lesson for him.  His keys to success?  Go where the action is and respect risk parameters.  Dinan notes that if you're in a position and the rules change, that's when bad trades happen.  York has more than half its base in illiquid credit.  He likes Japan, noting that "The Bank of Japan is your friend" and valuations are good with possible corporate governance changes coming.  He compared Japan now to the US in the 1980s in an economic sense.  He noted they've invested $700 million in Indiana toll roads.  Dinan also said he likes Puerto Rico but not the GO bonds.  He prefers complex infrastructure plays.

Jeff Smith (Starboard Value):  He mentioned a new idea of his, Macy's (M).  He thinks you get the company 'for free' when you take out the EV of its real estate.  He values the real estate at around $21 billion and hopes to work with management as he thinks M is worth $125 per share.

Bill Miller (Legg Mason):  He continues to like airlines stocks, saying they're in a long-term uptrend.  He likes Delta (DAL).  Commenting on bonds, he said that there's a benign bond market.  He also loves (AMZN) which is his biggest position at 6%.  He also likes builders and they're a big part of his portfolio as well, as he thinks they'll earn around 20% a year.

Jeff Gundlach (DoubleLine Capital):  He doesn't think the Fed will raise rates in 2015.  He said he's fond of emerging market debt (dollar denominated) and some high yield bonds (a shorter-term view on the latter).  He thinks high yield bonds will be a 'debacle' in 3-4 years.  Regarding bond rates, he notes they're rising secularly and went on to say that this is a good thing which most people don't realize.  Bond portfolios want rates to rise since you can reinvest at higher rates.  Looking extremely long term, he thinks India is a great place to put cash for the next 50 years.  Lastly, he also mentioned that he's allergic to companies that don't make money (AMZN).  He mentioned he bought Annaly Capital (NLY) recently and is out of his Apple (AAPL) position.  You can hear more from Gundlach in his recent Wall Street Week interview.

Keith Meister (Corvex Capital): He pitched American Realty Capital Properties (ARCP), a name he's presented at previous conferences as well (he owns 8% of the company).  He thinks you're taking 'bond like' risk for 'equity like' returns with this one and that the stock will pop once they reinstate the dividend and sees 25-50% upside.  Our Hedge Fund Wisdom newsletter analyzed the company if you want to play catch up quickly.

Tom Sandell (Sandell Asset Management):  His best idea was Ethan Allen (ETH), a furniture retailer.  He notes the company has practically zero debt and could be an ideal private equity candidate for a takeover.

Paul Singer (Elliott Management):  He likened the situation in China to potentially worse than the subprime crisis.  He thinks that perception of securities there has been impaired and it's just 'wild.'  Authorities there are trying to sustain the market with all kinds of moves but confidence is damaged by some of these rules.  He said the 70% haircut that Argentina forced on bondholders was the most severe he's seen in a large economy.  Singer said his firm essentially manages risk by putting in a lot of effort, a hands-on approach (basically activism).


Check back for more updates later.

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