Sohn Conference New York Notes 2017: Ackman, Einhorn, Meister & More ~ market folly

Monday, May 8, 2017

Sohn Conference New York Notes 2017: Ackman, Einhorn, Meister & More

Below we're posting up notes from the Sohn Conference New York 2017.  It featured top hedge fund managers sharing their latest investment ideas all to benefit pediatric cancer research.  We've also posted up the emerging manager presentations from Next Wave Sohn.

Notes From Sohn Conference New York 2017

Bill Ackman (Pershing Square): Long Howard Hughes (HHC)

He argued strong management and solid real estate locations as the main reasons to own the company.  Note that Ackman is the Chairman of the co.  We've posted up Ackman's slideshow presentation from Sohn here.

David Einhorn (Greenlight Capital): Short Core Labs (CLB)

Cyclical stock, expects earnings to disappoint.  Oil prices won't have a 'v' shaped recovery.  Company's annual report shows 65% decrease in oil prices over two years and then a 100% increase in price, a literal 'v' chart.  Says stock is pricey and that they're exposed to the least desirable parts of the market.  Exposure to international oilfield capex budgets which won't recover.  Fair value could be around $62, or over 40% lower.  Recall that Einhorn has also been short Pioneer Natural Resources (PDX) in pitch at previous conferences.

Larry Robbins (Glenview Capital): Long DXC Technology (DXC), FMC (FMC), Quintiles IMS (Q)

DXC has already doubled over the past two years but he thinks it can double again given the huge increase in earnings power.  FMC purchased businesses that Dow and DuPont dumped as part of their merger.  Thinks FMC benefits as the others had to divest this in order to get their big deal done.

Keith Meister (Corvex Management): Long CenturyLink (CTL)

Thinks the company's merger with Level 3 is a game changer.  Filing a 13D with the SEC today disclosing a 5.5% stake.  Says consolidation in telecom will continue due to more data.  If economy is doing well = more data growth which is good for CTL.  If economy doing bad = a 9% dividend yield versus a 10-year Treasury potentially falling back to 2%.  Would never have invested if it weren't for the merger.  Stock priced as if things are in decline permanently.  Sees 40% upside with dividends in base case, but potential return as high as 50-70% if there's corporate tax reform.

Clifton Robbins (Blue Harbour Group): Long Investors Bancorp (ISBC)

Has seen deposit and asset growth continue, should benefit from less regulations and tax reform as well.  They own around 9.9% of the company and one of their partners just joined the board.  Stock could be worth between $17 and $19.  Fortress balance sheet.  Have grown loans 22% CAGR.  Co has $1 billion in excess cash to allocate.  Could potentially be an acquisition target since it's a strong regional bank.  Has previously pitched this name at another conference a few years ago.  Also noted his firm is focusing more now on the importance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) in investing.

Chamath Palihapitiya (Social Capital): Long Tesla 2022 Convertible Bonds

He called Elon Musk this generation's "Thomas Edison."  Thinks playing the bonds means no money lost as long as the company is worth at least $15 billion.  Argues company will have 5% of car market in the next decade.  They don't spend on advertising or a dealer network, don't have unions, etc.  Very capital intensive.  Called TSLA "unmodelable."

Josh Resnick (Jericho Capital):  Short Frontier Communications (FTR)

Massive debtload and deteriorating EBITDA which is a bad combination.  Has been short for five years, from $4 down to $1.50, longest short of his career.  Thinks company goes bankrupt.  32% of revenue comes from voice (phones) and thinks it declines sharply.  Losing market share to cable as well.

Jeff Gundlach (DoubleLine Capital): Emerging market outperformance (EEM) vs S&P 500

Not very bearish on the US dollar, but also not a bull.  American stock market seems to be overvalued. Questioned the herd mentality around index funds.  Go long EEM short SPY and leverage it up 1x.  Also said he's now on Twitter: @TruthGundlach to fight back fallacious media reports.

Debra Fine (Fine Capital): Long DHX Media (DHX/B on TSE)

Creator, buyer and distributor of children's TV content in Canada.  Thinks fair value is C$20-C$30.  The change in how video is consumed has increased need for children's content.  Says new content buyers like Netflix, Amazon and YouTube are driving up prices.  Notes that children's content drives merchandise and licensing dollars.  Children's content ages well and is usually cheaper to produce.

Davide Serra (Algebris Investments): Short U.K. gilts (bonds), Long UniCredit (UCG:BIT)

Brexit doesn't really help the UK economy, thinks it costs U.K. around 7% of GDP (~$200 billion).  Thinks European stocks are at an inflection point.  Big gap versus S&P 500 over past eight years and that's about to change.  Also talked long UniCredit, thinks Europe is overdue for consolidation efforts.  Italian banks been penalized for high share of nonperforming loans which creates opportunity as the company is fixing this and then added tailwinds of interest rates normalizing.  We previously highlighted Dan Loeb & Third Point's thesis on UniCredit.

Brad Gerstner (Altimeter Capital): Long United Airlines (UAL)

Thinks skepticism of the airline industry that's been pervasive for years is too negative.  Led to lower multiples despite margins that were uptrending.  Sentiment shouldn't be that low.  Millennials are traveling more than their parents did so airlines can be a secular grower.  Altimeter settled proxy contest with UAL last year.  Sees 18% increase in EPS to around $16.75.  More conservative base case is $13 a share by 2020.  Consolidation of the industry cannot be overstated and has basically resulted in an oligopoly.  Planes are full and price wars are long gone so there's pricing power now.  We've also highlighted how Warren Buffett likes airlines now too. Shares could double.

Kevin Warsh (Former Fed Governor):

Thinks a lot about tail risks and tail outcomes.  Feels most assets aren't ready for downside surprise.  Says to watch capex going forward.  If companies are spending, the economy still has further legs.  If there's a cut, not so sure the economy can keep it in high gear to go forward.  Biggest question for him is if lower inflation continues with slow growth.  Thinks institutional credibility rather than the printing press will be biggest asset going forward.

Tal Ben-Shahar (Potentialife): General advice: Do less

If you want to be happier, do less as quantity affects quality.  Reduce multi-tasking and find time for play, for friends, for family.

Sohn Contest Winner Dylan Adelman: Long eBay

Be sure to also check out notes from Next Wave Sohn which featured emerging managers pitching their investment ideas.

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