Lee Cooperman's Value Investing Congress Presentation: Are Equities Still the Best House in the Neighborhood? ~ market folly

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lee Cooperman's Value Investing Congress Presentation: Are Equities Still the Best House in the Neighborhood?

We're posting up notes from the 2014 Value Investing Congress in New York. Next up is Lee Cooperman of Omega Advisors who presented: Are equities still the best house in the financial asset neighborhood?

Lee Cooperman's Value Investing Congress Presentation

• Market is fully / fairly valued. There is time and price left in us equity bull market and a respectable  S&P return expected in 12-18 months. Repeated the caveat that a geopolitical event could upend this prediction

• “Bear markets are born in despair, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism, die on euphoria.” ‘08/’09 was deep pessimism, have seen skepticism lately but we are near the end of that  now. Sees few signs of euphoria

• Nearly all us fixed income securities w/ exception of structured credit are uninteresting and   unattractive. This includes treasuries, investment grade corporates, HY bonds and soverign debt

• Equity markets in Europe and Japan should deliver respectable returns over coming year, could   outperform us as they are further behind in business cycle. Japanese valuations are attractive   because they have a comparable dividend yield but sell at 13.6x P/E vs. 16.8x P/E in US

• Dollar should be a strong currency over coming year

• Looking at average cycles:
o Bear market of ‘09 was 2x the average bear market, down -57% vs. -26% average. Also lasted 17 months vs. 13 month average
o Recession duration also prolonged and deeper than average. The average recession is characterized by -2% GDP and lasts 10 months.  In the '09 recession, GDP declined -4.3% and lasted 18 months
o Average recovery lasts 60 months and we are on slight overtime at 63 months today. 
o Market peaks about 7 months prior to economic peak. Thinks we don't have recession in 2015 so doesn't see a market peak today
o Cooperman thinks this recovery has the potential to exceed the average because so many companies were operating below potential

• Reason for caution:
o Seeing a lot of capitulation from the permabears, now hearing 3,000 S&P predictions from holdouts.  People waking up and getting bullish now are making a mistake
o Getting a little nervous that so many people who couldn’t see the positive outlook a few years ago now see such good opportunity
o Reiterated geopolitical risk multiple times
o Very concerned about income disparity in the economy. 75mm youth around the world are unemployed.  In the '40s an average factory worker made 1/30th of a CEO, now 1/900th
o Next crisis will be in public sector fundings. US government has $17tn debt with an average maturity < 4 years.  Meanwhile corporates have high liquidity and the banking sector is so highly regulated these days that a crisis probably won't come from them
o Another risk: recession/deflation in Eurozone or US
o Stocks also aren't really cheap – showed Buffett’s favorite stock valuation chart

• Regarding rising rates:  o If Fed doesn't raise rates, we have a problem in the stock market. If cash belongs at 0% and govt belongs at 4%, you shouldn't be making 15% in the stock market.  Rising rates should be indicative of an improving economy
o 1958 was the year of yield reversal when equities started yielding less in dividend yield compared to treasuries.  Now over 25% of S&P 500 non-financials yield more than 10yr note
o Relative to alternatives, equities still better. Fixed incomes just not attractive


• GARP: Actavis (ACT), Citigroup (C), Thermo Fisher (TMO)
• Income growth: Atlas (ATLS), Gaming & Leisure Properties (GLPI), KKR (KKR), Nordic American Offshore (NAO) 
• Asset restructuring: QEP Resources (QEP), Supervalu (SVU)
• High risk/high return: Altisource Portfolio Solutions (ASPS), Louis XIII (577 Hk), Monitise (MONLLN), Sandridge Energy (SD).

Cooperman's pick of ASPS was analyzed in the May issue of our Hedge Fund Wisdom newsletter if you want to play catch up on the name quickly.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Value Investing Congress presentations here.

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