Hedge Fund Best Ideas: Kyle Bass, Dan Loeb, Leon Cooperman, Phil Falcone ~ market folly

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hedge Fund Best Ideas: Kyle Bass, Dan Loeb, Leon Cooperman, Phil Falcone

All today we've been covering the Delivering Alpha conference and we conclude with the Best Ideas & Alpha panel featuring Kyle Bass (Hayman Capital), Leon Cooperman (Omega Advisors), Philip Falcone (Harbinger Capital), Dan Loeb (Third Point), J. Tomilson Hill (Blackstone Alternative), and Anne Popkin (Symphony Asset Management). Each presented their best current idea:

Kyle Bass (Hayman Advisors)

Bass is well known for his subprime short and prediction of sovereign defaults. At the conference, he said that the sovereign debt crisis is unlike anything seen in history.

Bass believes Japan is in the worst position, saying "Japan spends almost half of their revenue on debt service. So, a minute move can put them literally into check-mate ... We see a structural anomaly creating the cheapest option in the world."

Simply put, Bass says to buy price put options on government bonds in Japan. He believes it's the best opportunity in the world. In the past, we've outlined how Bass was betting against Japanese Government Bonds (JGBs).

Leon Cooperman (Omega Advisors)

Earlier this summer, the legendary hedge fund manager presented at the Leaders in Investing Summit where he was concerned about employment and thought that bonds were screaming to be shorted. At today's conference, Cooperman says that the economic and financial crisis from 2008 would not repeat in 2011 or 2012.

The manager continues to avoid government bonds and again says that stocks are the "best house in the asset management neighborhood." He likes stocks assuming that Obama softens his 'anti-wealth' stance and that the Middle East remains stable. He mentioned liking Apple (AAPL), Sallie Mae (SLM), and Boston Scientific (BSX). To see what other stocks Cooperman is invested in, head to our Hedge Fund Wisdom newsletter.

Cooperman will also be presenting his latest investment ideas at the Value Investing Congress next month.

Philip Falcone (Harbinger Capital)

Falcone has seen somewhat of a transformation lately as his hedge fund looks more like a private equity fund with his large private investment in a 4G wireless network: LightSquared. At the conference, he pitched Spectrum Brands (SPB), noting the company's solid balance sheet and high free cashflow (11-12% free cashflow yield).

The company sells batteries, personal care products, home and garden items, and more. Falcone points to their strong management team and collection of strong global brands. The company is currently focused on debt paydown and reducing leverage from 3.5x to 3x.

Harbinger owns 28 million shares via his publicly-traded Harbinger Capital. We detailed Falcone's original acquisition of SPB shares back in August 2009 as well as his subsequent purchase in April of 2010. While SPB isn't a "high octane" stock, he likes it.

Dan Loeb (Third Point)

We've covered Loeb's recent activist investment in Yahoo! (YHOO) and that's exactly what he talked about at the conference. Just today he sent another letter to Yahoo as his first conversation didn't seem to go too well. Ahh, the trials and tribulations of activist investing.

He feels YHOO has an intrinsic value of around $20 per share and you can see Loeb's investment thesis in his original letter to Yahoo. But in summary, he feels that the company has great assets but has been horribly mismanaged. Calling the board of directors "clowns," Loeb points out that the company hasn't changed since 2004, has kept a "crappy interface" and the "same stupid logo."

In particular, it seems that Loeb really likes their ownership stake in Alibaba Group. Interestingly enough, Loeb says that the company does not need to break up. He says they've hedged the position against the S&P 500 and they've also hedged exposure to Yahoo Japan.

We've also detailed how Third Point has reduced equity exposure for four consecutive months.

J. Tomilson Hill (Blackstone Alternative Asset Mgmt)

This manager believes that non-performing loans and mortgage-backed securities are the best play on a risk-adjusted basis. He also says that, "you have the ability to buy mortgage servicing rights at prices we've not seen before."

Anne Popkin (Symphony Asset Management)

She argued that levered credit is cheap and is focused on loans and high yield bonds. The manager cautioned not to put all your eggs into this one basket and not to buy an entire position right away. Popkin says, "risk management is absolutely crucial here, because volatility is very high." So it sounds as if she's used the volatility in the sector to slowly assemble a position.

Embedded below is video of the entire Best Ideas & Alpha hedge fund panel:

For more coverage of the Delivering Alpha conference, head to our posts:

- Bill Ackman's new investment: long Hong Kong Dollar

- China: Bubble or Bonanza? Dan Arbess versus Jim Chanos

- Paul Touradji & Jeff Scott on commodities

- Jim Chanos: long corruption, short property in China

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