Value Investing Congress: Notes From Day 2 ~ market folly

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Value Investing Congress: Notes From Day 2

Thanks again to the Value Investing Congress who has been posting updates from the event on Twitter (make sure to follow us as well), we're able to present you with aggregated notes of the presentations. Yesterday we posted up notes from the first day of the Value Investing Congress and now we're covering day two of the event. Today we'll detail the investment ideas from Eric Sprott (Sprott Asset Management), Whitney Tilson & Glenn Tongue (T2 Partners), Lei Zhang (Hillhouse Capital Management), Tom Russo (Semper Vic) and David Nierenberg (D3 Funds).

Eric Sprott of Sprott Asset Management: Eric Sprott unsurprisingly gave a presentation on investing in precious metals. As we've covered on the site before, Sprott launched a physical gold trust and has stakes in various miners. He notes that we live in a world where governments continually spend money to boost GDP and that it is a race to the bottom in terms of currency devaluation. Currently the US dollar is winning that race but it 'may not win forever.' Overall, he says to beware of fiat currencies. You'll remember that fellow hedgie John Paulson started a gold fund as a way to bet against the US dollar. As a gold bull, Sprott's two favorite words are 'quantitative easing.' His specific investment idea was East Asia Minerals Corporation which he thinks could be a '10-bagger or more' due to gold reserves discovered. You can view all our past coverage on Sprott's firm here.

Whitney Tilson & Glenn Tongue of T2 Partners: These two gentlemen presented the case for their new long: Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) which is trading for 8.5x 2012 free cash flow. They note it is an addition to their ever-growing portfolio of undervalued blue-chip companies. Tongue says to look at BUD's free cash flow net of AmBev minority interests, synergies, deleveraging and 50% of Modelo's free cash flow. He thinks the market is also unfamiliar with the management story behind the company and equates it to the story of Rose Blumkin at Nebraska Furniture Mart.

Before their investment idea, Whitney Tilson's talk focused on how the market is range-bound as the S&P trades at 20.4x inflation-adjusted trailing earnings, above the average of 16.3x. As he has touched on in the past, Tilson believes housing still has more pain ahead as 24% of homeowners who haven't made a payment in a year have still not been foreclosed on. This represents a large amount of inventory yet to hit the market. Tilson also notes that the mortgage market has essentially been nationalized and that housing prices are well below the peak but still above levels in year 2000. He also recently appeared on CNBC where he outlined his bullish thoughts on BUD and talked about his short position in the homebuilders and his short position in Palm. Embedded below is the video of his recent appearance (email readers will need to come to the site to view the video:

Keep in mind that we've detailed T2's short positions before for those of you wanting a closer look and Tilson recently explained his short in LULU as well. For more insight on Glenn Tongue & Whitney Tilson's portfolio, head to T2 Partners annual letter.

Lei Zhang of Hillhouse Capital Management: Zhang started his firm with $30 million and now manages $4 billion, the largest hedge fund in China. Hillhouse has seen extraordinary performance, returning 52% annualized since inception in August of 2005. Zhang typically runs a concentrated portfolio and uses a team based research process to perform fundamental bottom-up research on companies. Zhang likes to focus on the people and teams behind the business and usually holds long positions 3-5 years. Interestingly enough, Zhang is currently in 50% cash and only adds 3-5 positions each year.

Currently, Hillhouse is negative on the shipping industry. Overall, Zhang dislikes small cap plays and sees very common investment mistakes in China, including investors with very short-term timeframes and over-excitement regarding short-term growth. Ironically, Zhang thinks concentrated bets are often a common investing mistake in China, yet Hillhouse runs a concentrated portfolio of their own. Clearly that strategy has served them well though, just look at their returns. Zhang's specific investment idea was the B shares of Changyu Corporation, a Chinese wine company that had a return on equity of 35% in 2008. He notes that there is little regulation on alcohol in China and no license is needed. On the short side, he likes focusing on 'frauds' which is a pretty obvious statement.

Tom Russo of Semper Vic Partners: Russo's talk centered on global value investing and the premise that international markets are very attractive due to emerging market growth. He allocated a lot of capital there during the crisis in 2008 when everything collapsed. In particular, Russo mentioned that Nestle can invest large amounts of money in emerging markets and see high rates of return. Pernod Ricard is one of the leading brands around the globe and was the top shorted stock on the Euronext in 2008. He likes their leadership in China especially. Lastly, Russo touches on SABMiller commending them for their long-term focus as they have burdened EBITDA margins in Africa in order to make investments.

David Nierenberg of D3 Funds: Nierenberg's firm takes concentrated positions in microcap growth companies seeking to constructively work with management. He likes emerging markets as six of the nine public companies he owns have exposure there. In particular, D3 Funds holds RadiSys (RSYS), an embedded computing company that has a strong balance sheet with $3+ per share net cash and is only tracked by two analysts. While current revenues have been stagnant, 'next generation' revenue is growing rapidly. By Q2 of 2010, RSYS will have outsourced 100% of its production and sees a 3 year earnings compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39%. Additionally, Nierenberg's partner Cara Denver mentioned that D3 owns 18% of Move Inc (MOVE) and that their thesis is still intact.

Thanks again to the VIC for posting their Twitter updates. Make sure to also check out Value Investing Congress notes from the first day and then stay tuned for more hedge fund portfolio tracking here on Market Folly daily.

blog comments powered by Disqus