Notes From Sohn Conference New York 2016: Druckenmiller, Robbins, Einhorn & More ~ market folly

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Notes From Sohn Conference New York 2016: Druckenmiller, Robbins, Einhorn & More

The 2016 Sohn Conference New York just concluded and featured top hedge fund managers sharing investment ideas in order to benefit the Sohn Conference Foundation which is dedicated to the treatment and cure of pediatric cancer and childhood diseases.  Here's the takeaways:

Notes From Sohn Conference New York 2016

Larry Robbins (Glenview Capital): “Get a Grip.” Theme was stocks can be a bumpy ride for investors, and hedge funds have taken a lot of hits in the press, but if you expect them to not be short-term traders, then don’t judge them by their short-term records.   He talked his book; claiming that fundamental investing is not dead.   He is long: VCA (WOOF) – Veternarian hospital, multiple has compressed as earnings have grown and “There is no Obamacare for Veternarian hospitals.” Also pitched his longstanding holding of Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO).  Yes, it has FX issues, but it has EPS growth.  Pitched Lab Corp (LH) as well: hit by fears of new technology, but Theranos story shows that it’s not that easy to come up with new technology. On CBS (CBS): the viewing model is changing, with over-the-top (OTT), but content still has value.   Flextronics (FLEX): they got out of the low value business, but still grew revenue 3% and EPS 15% yet their P/E is only 8.5x.  The stock fell in February 19% and nobody knows why. Abbvie (ABBV): has a pipeline, Humira has IP protection, and biosimilars will take time to develop. Brookdale Senior Living (BKD): earning less, but still, oversold. Talked about Anthem (ANTM): 1.     Managed care is still a good business  2.     Cigna (CI) merger could lead to 20% accretion  3.     ANTM vs ESRX contract repricing spat could lead to more earnings  4.     Market pricing says deal breaks, he doesn’t think it will.

Carson Block (Muddy Waters):  Famed short seller says, “No such thing as alchemy in banking” and touts Bank of the Ozarks (OZRK) as a short because they’ve done a lot of aggressive construction loans and acquisitions. Best case stock re-rates due to unsustainable EPS growth rate, worst case, balance sheet pressure.

John Khoury (Long Pond Capital):  Value oriented, private equity approach. Hyatt (H) long. Says 65% upside, and low leverage gives a floor to valuation.  Admits Pritzker family controls company but says they make good capital allocation decisions. Low end, leisure hotels most vulnerable to AirBnB threat.  Hyatt has more corporate, higher end, which is relatively insulated. Not making a bullish call on all hotel stocks.  Saying Hyatt since 2010 IPO, EBITDA is up 66%, shares up only 14% while they have bought back 20% of shares outstanding.    Uses SOTP to get $79 PT, 65% upside.

Chamath Palihapitiya (Social Capital):  Silicon Valley investor. Says Amazon (AMZN) is a multi-trillion monopoly in plain sight. Walked through e-Commerce, Amazon Web Services (AWS), says this is just the beginning, that Jeff Bezos will make good investment decisions. Says AWS is not understood by the Street and could be worth a lot more. (Seems like the AWS bull case is already widely touted by AMZN bulls?) Lots of potential losers as AWS scales.

Jeff Smith (Starboard Value): Activists. In 12 years they have replaced 162 board members at 50 companies. Likes Depomed (DEPO) long, pain medication, like Oxycontin, less abuse potential. Not taking price increases. Horizon Pharma (HZNP) tried to buy them, they refused to deal. Starboard has nominated a new board- sounds like a proxy battle is brewing.   Also like Westrock (WRK), merger of Mead WestVaco and Rock Tenn.  Sounds like a commodity business, but he says it is not, and it’s still cheap, at 4.9x 2017E EBITDA. Has $71 PT, almost a double from here.

Richard Deitz (VR Capital):  They do a lot of emerging markets stuff. He says long Greek banks and Greek treasury bonds.  Went through the sordid history of bailouts, and says now things are better, the banks are finally strong, may need one more round of recapitalizations.  141% upside, 34% IRR over next 3 years.

Stanley Druckenmiller (Duquesne Family Office): In a sentence: we have low rates, high multiples on stocks, high leverage, sell stocks and everything, buy gold.  Fed is out of control, encouraging borrowing, reckless behavior. China is out of control, just buy gold.

Jeff Gundlach (DoubleLine Capital): Comedy show, with art talk in the beginning.  In other words, his usual type of presentation. Says short XLU (utilities) long REM (mortgage REITs.)  REITS are priced at 0.88x p/book, with 11% dividend, Utilities are 1.9x p/book with 3% dividend, you earn 8% net and you can lever it up 100% and earn 15%, plus the two should converge. He mocked the “low volatility” equities and showed that even utilities have had 56% drawdowns in the past. His most incendiary statement was that Donald Trump would be President, and “he’s comfortable with debt.”

Zach Schreiber (PointState Capital): He is the man that pitched oil short 2 years ago, when it was $100 per barrel.   Long USD, short the Saudi currency, he says.  He made a compelling case for why Saudi is in an “unsustainable equilibria” with lavish unfunded entitlements, unsustainable debt, and not enough currency reserves to protect their peg. Other oil producers’ currencies are down 25- 45% vs the dollar- Mexico, Norway, Russia, for example, yet the Saudi currency is unchanged.  Only costs 1.5% to put this trade on and very asymmetric pay off.

Sohn Investment Contest Winner (Mark Grow, Columbia Business School):   DXCM, Dexcom short was the pitch. Insulin device maker (continuous glucose monitoring ~ CGM) which is facing impending competition and is unable to increase price as revenue per user declines. Says stock can drop in half.

Adam Fisher (Commonwealth Opportunity Capital):  Real estate background, now a Macro guy. Says short Japanese rates, long European rates. Very compelling case for how long JGBs that yield only 30 bps have nowhere to go but up. Even a move to 40 bps yield wipes out 10 years of return.  Says maximum return for bondholders is 9% return over 30 years - that is not a CAGR of 9%, that is a TOTAL of 9%!  Huge convexity in the trade.

David Einhorn (Greenlight Capital): He pitched Caterpillar (CAT) short, says company is NOT at trough earnings yet and the mining sector will never recover to the heights of the China boom.  No catalyst on the short, other than EPS growth expected to take longer than expected.  Then he pitched General Motors (GM) as a long, admitting that US business would drop off almost 20% but the currently money losing segments in Europe and Mexico could make up for the shortfall.  Long deck with lots of charts and cartoons as usual.  GM pitch rested on low P/E of 5.6x to increase despite US EBITDA to decline.

Jim Chanos (Kynikos Associates): Got a dig in on Tesla (TSLA), which he had said he was short earlier that day on TV.  He said Elon Musk had not enough production, not enough batteries, and now not enough executives, but he pulls production forward 2 years.  “What a showman,” he said. His pitch was a complicated one, talking about weakness in South Africa, and Nigeria, which led to a short of MTN group, a wireless carrier which is also struggling with subscriber growth and declining average revenue per user (ARPU).  At $20B EV, this is a big company that he says is not cheap.

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