David Tepper Interview: "I Am Cautious But I Am Optimistic" ~ market folly

Friday, January 21, 2011

David Tepper Interview: "I Am Cautious But I Am Optimistic"

David Tepper, founder of hedge fund Appaloosa Management, appeared on CNBC this morning in an effort to raise awareness for his campaign to raise $15 million for the New Jersey community food bank (he's already raised $9m).

While he was there, he also of course shared his latest economic and market views. You'll remember that last time Tepper appeared on CNBC in September 2010, he was bullish on equities and his rationale inspired what many are calling the 'Tepper rally.' Since his comments then, the market has rallied more than 13%. Appaloosa's Thoroughbred fund returned 22% in 2010 and 100% in 2009. See how his numbers stack up against others in our post on 2010 hedge fund returns.

On the Economy

This time around, the Appaloosa hedge fund manager says that quantitative easing has worked and that the economy is better. Tepper also thinks that the unemployment situation will improve, but it won't get back to the lower levels quite seen before the crisis. He notes that the timing of the Federal Reserve's exit from its position of assistance will be important.

On the Market

Tepper also argues that S&P earnings multiples are still relatively low. With the S&P trading around 1,280 currently, he said he'd buy again... but at 1,000 (the same level where he was buying in September). Overall though, he is "cautious but optimistic." This attaches somewhat of a qualifier to the article yesterday that Tepper has turned cautious based on his comments in another interview. But at the same time, he notes that there's still uncertainty in other parts of the world (mainly European debt and China).

Tepper Likes Semiconductors

In terms of specific sectors and companies, he mentioned he likes semiconductors for 2011 and specifically cited Micron (MU). When he was interviewed in September, he mentioned that you could almost 'buy anything' since the Fed was pumping so much liquidity into the system. This time around, he says that you cannot simply 'buy anything' and you have to be more selective.

Regarding other investments Appaloosa currently holds, he mentioned he owns Banco Santander (STD) traded in Spain which we already knew from his Ira Sohn presentation in May 2010, but he also owns AIA, a subsidiary of AIG that recently IPO'd in Asia. We've noted that Bruce Berkowitz's Fairholme Capital participated in the AIA IPO.

Comments On His Dean Foods (DF) Stake

Tepper also talked about his new position in Dean Foods (DF). He likes the milk business in that Dean Foods has a dominant market position. But looking for areas of growth in the industry, he points to soy milk, almond milk, and organic milk and highlights that competitors aren't really doing anything there. Appaloosa thinks that the current milk squeeze (low retail prices) will be eliminated in the next year and they feel the company is cheap.

Embedded below is the video from his interview (email readers will need to come to the site to view it). Here's his thoughts on the macro environment and market in general:

And then here are Tepper's thoughts on more specific subjects like semiconductors, banking, and more niche topics:

To see what Tepper has been investing in lately, sign-up for our newsletter as his latest portfolio will be released in a few weeks.

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