Friday, March 15, 2013

Sohn Conference Speakers Announced: Druckenmiller, Singer, Einhorn, Eisman & More

The 18th Annual Sohn Investment Conference has just released its list of speakers and it's packed with prominent hedge fund managers.  This is always one of the premier investment conferences each year and proceeds benefit the Sohn Conference Foundation, dedicated to the treatment and cure of pediatric cancer.  You can register for the event here.

Event Details

Date: Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
Time: 12pm - 6pm with reception to follow
Location: Lincoln Center, New York City

Speakers List

Stanley Druckenmiller, ex-Duquesne Capital
David Einhorn, Greenlight Capital
Paul Singer, Elliott Management
Steve Eisman, Emrys Partners
Bill Ackman, Pershing Square
Kyle Bass, Hayman Capital Management
Jim Chanos, Kynikos Associates
Mitchell Julis, Canyon Partners
Jeffrey Gundlach, DoubleLine
Keith Meister, Corvex Management
Li Lu, Himalaya Capital
David Stemerman, Conatus Capital
Clifton Robbins, Blue Harbour Group
Tor Olav Troim, Seadrill

As you can see, the list of speakers is fantastic so there should be some intriguing investment ideas shared, all benefiting a great cause.  To get a ticket to the event, click here.

What We're Reading ~ Hedge Fund Links 3/15/13

Once bashful, hedge fund pros bask in media glare [Yahoo Finance]

Oaktree Capital's founder knows how to get an edge in investing [Barron's]

Bill Ackman on what makes a great investment [Advisor Perspectives]

York's Dinan squares off against Ackman over JC Penney [Reuters]

Ray Dalio on the upside of negative feedback [Freakonomics]

BofA: hedge funds are fully invested [Business Insider]

New hedge fund launches rise on record industry capital [Investment Europe]

Lansdowne bets against one of France's biggest firms [ValueWalk]

Debunking myths about activist investors [Harvard Law]

Top pension approves $800 million for commodities [Hedgeworld]

Mixed hedge fund views on China [Institutional Investor]

Paulson's fund a bust in 2012 [NYPost]

Micros Systems jumps after ValueAct Capital takes stake [Bloomberg]

Blackstone said to get $2.1 billion loan for home purchases [Bloomberg]

What Vegas can learn from Wall Street [Bloomberg]

Ackman, Loeb, Icahn: The big short war ~ full article [Vanity Fair]

Tiger Management buys Dubai internet start-up [ArabianMoney]

Eddie Lampert's 2012 Annual Letter: Sears Holdings

For value investors interested, below is Eddie Lampert's annual letter from Sears Holdings (SHLD).  He reviews 2012, provides SHLD specific commentary, and also shares thoughts on the retail industry in general.

Embedded below is Eddie Lampert's 2012 letter:

For other recent value investor commentary, be sure to also check out Warren Buffett's annual 2012 letter.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Book Recommendations From Warren Buffett

If you missed it, Warren Buffett's annual letter was released recently and in the Berkshire Hathaway 2012 annual report was a recommended reading list from the Oracle of Omaha himself.

New Books Recommended By Buffett

The Outsiders by William Thorndike Jr. - A book about CEOs who excelled at capital allocation.

Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything by Carol Loomis - Authored by Buffett's longtime friend.

The Clash of Cultures: Investment vs Speculation by Jack Bogle - On how certain things have altered the concept of long-term investing

Investing Between the Lines: How to Make Smarter Decisions By Decoding CEO Communications by Laura Rittenhouse - In an age of 'management speak' this helps you read between the lines.

We've added these to the other books found on Warren Buffett's recommended reading list.

Lee Cooperman Boosts Polycom Stake

Lee Cooperman's hedge fund Omega Advisors just filed a 13G with the SEC regarding shares of Polycom (PLCM).  Per the filing, Omega has revealed a 5.43% ownership stake with 9,608,699 shares.

This marks a 70% increase in their position size since the end of 2012.  The 13G was required due to portfolio activity on March 6th.

Per Google Finance, Polycom is "a provider of unified communications (UC) solutions and a provider of telepresence, video, voice and infrastructure solutions based on open standards. With Polycom RealPresence video and voice solutions, from infrastructure to endpoints, people all over the world can collaborate face-to-face without being in the same physical location."

For more from this manager, Cooperman recently said the market is fairly valued and talked about some of his other positions.

Oaktree's Howard Marks: Equities in Stage 2 of a Bull Market

It's no secret that Oaktree Capital's Chairman Howard Marks pens some of the most-read memos on Wall Street (Warren Buffett even reads them).  So while Marks' last memo talked about high yield bonds, his newest missive is entitled 'The Outlook for Equities'.

Valuing Stocks Today

The Oaktree founder says that earnings yield is a better measure of stocks' long-term potential (earnings yield is the flipside version of the P/E ratio, i.e. E/P).

Marks points out that the P/E ratio today is around 16 and the earnings yield is around 6.25%.  Comparing the yield ratio to historical figures, he argues things are favorable today.  However, he cautions:

"The problem with basing pro-equities arguments on the yield comparison is that most of equities' current attraction on that basis comes from the lowness of interest rates."

The Bull Case For Equities

Marks highlights a few different reasons to be bullish on equities, such as: mutual fund inflows have been low (and outflows have stopped) and stocks aren't highly valued.  His most intriguing point, however, lies in investor behavior:

"A move upward can be powered by a switch from the fear of losing money to the fear of missing opportunity.  When attitudes are moderate and allocations are low, it doesn't take much."

So the main question here is, are investors now more concerned about downside risk or missing out on the rally?

Marks feels there are three stages of a bull market

1. Few people begin to believe things will get better
2. Most investors realize improvement is actually underway
3. Everyone's sure things will get better forever

He thinks we're currently in the first half of stage 2.

Embedded below is Howard Marks' latest memo, 'The Outlook for Equities':

For more from Oaktree, be sure to also check out Howard Marks on high yield bonds today.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What We're Reading ~ Analytical Links 3/13/13

The truth about market timing [The Big Picture]

Here's what happens when rates rise [Reformed Broker]

7 big questions to help you invest better [Fool]

Advice from a contrarian: when running with the herd, it's easy to trip [Globe & Mail]

The paper world of Brookfield Asset Management (BAM) [SIRF]

Greed is Groupon (GRPN): can anyone save the company from itself? [Verge]

NYSE Net Margin debt: most important chart of last six years [Aviate Global]

Nu skin (NUS): ladders, losers and direct-marketing schemes [Caixin Online]

No Kodak moment for Hewlett Packard (HPQ) [II]

Sidetracked: why our decisions get derailed [Simoleon Sense]

In spinoffs, a time to jettison undesirable liabilities [NYTimes]

A pitch on Northbridge Industrial Services (NBI.L) [Octomore]

Gold is the worst investment of 2013 [Quartz]

Quantitative easing: the greatest con ever sold [Minyanville]

7 investment principles for entrepreneurs [Inc]

Offshore cash hoard expands by $183 billion at companies [Bloomberg]

Amazing shift in US fuel consumption trajectory [FT Alphaville]