Notes From Invest For Kids Conference: Ackman, Robbins, Whitney, Zell ~ market folly

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Notes From Invest For Kids Conference: Ackman, Robbins, Whitney, Zell

The Invest For Kids Conference took place last week in Chicago and was a resounding success, raising over $1 million to benefit local children. We wanted to post up a quick summary of the event, including in-depth notes below from the prominent hedge fund managers that presented. Speakers included Bill Ackman (Pershing Square), Larry Robbins (Glenview Capital), Meredith Whitney, and more. Here are some of their latest investment recommendations:

Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management: Instead of doling out equity specific investment advice, Ackman instead turned to real estate. At the conference, he proclaimed his bullishness on the housing market and said to buy single family homes, citing home affordability at its highest level in many years. The low interest rate environment obviously helps this but he cautions rates won't stay low for long. This is the same recommendation as John Paulson who said to buy housing recently as well. Stay tuned next week as we'll examine Ackman's latest portfolio in our newsletter, Hedge Fund Wisdom. For our recent posts on the manager, head to Ackman's potential thesis on JC Penney (JCP).

Meredith Whitney of Whitney Advisory Group: Whitney harped on the issues found on the state and local government level regarding their fiscal problems. In short, she feels that municipalities are in trouble, especially New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan.

William Browder of Hermitage Capital: Browder focused on emerging markets and an inflationary environment. As such, he tossed out Koza Gold as an idea, a miner in Turkey. He cites their cheap valuation and cheap production costs at $320 an ounce. He also recommended Renhe Commercial Holdings, a shopping mall developer in China.

Larry Robbins of Glenview Capital: Robbins has been presenting the case for McKesson (MCK), Express Scripts (ESRX), and Life Technologies (LIFE) as of late. This conference was no different as he again pointed out the attractiveness of each investment. ESRX is well positioned for the generic drug boom in 2012 and Robbins likes their $6 billion in cash. He fancies LIFE due to its valuation and thinks the company should buyback shares. MCK is attractive due to the company's use of cash to accelerate EPS growth. He also cautioned about mortgage put-backs and appears to be short two banks with high exposure there. Head to our Hedge Fund Wisdom newsletter to view the rest of Glenview's portfolio. We also recently detailed how Glenview increased its position in Punch Taverns.

Joshua Friedman of Canyon Partners: Friedman's suggestion was to play the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy but cautions that it's a complex situation, to say the least. More detailed thoughts are found below.

John W. Rogers of Ariel Investments: Rogers offered three ideas: CBS (CBS), Viacom (VIA), and Gannett (GCI), the last of which he likes the best. He believes a natural move for CBS would be to go private later on as Sumner Redston ages. He also believes Redstone could push VIA private as well. Of the two, Rogers says VIA is cheaper and has solid upside. On GCI, Rogers argues that despite the unpopular print media business, he has been buying on the way down. In a sense, this is an economic recovery play as ad sales pick up.

Doug Silverman of Senator Investment Group: Possibly the most telling information from Silverman's presentation was the fact that they had previously focused on credit the past few years but are now focused on value equities. In terms of specific recommendations, Senator likes rental car companies at present. He referenced the bidding war for Dollar Thrifty (DTG) and sees consolidation in the space. Senator owns 6% of Avis Budget (CAR) and then a lot of Hertz (HTZ) shares as well. You can read his detailed thoughts below.

Numerous other speakers presented at the Invest For Kids Conference and we highly recommend reading the full set of notes attached. Embedded below are the notes, courtesy of Simoleon Sense:

You can download a .pdf copy here.

Overall the second annual conference was a resounding success, raising over $1 million to benefit local children. And, the various hedge fund managers that spoke presented some interesting investment ideas.

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