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As Serious As Cancer

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How do you trick a bunch of hedge fund managers into taking time out of their busy days (/nights) to care about children with cancer? Offer them the promise of tips on how they can make more money (and get a red wine stain out of a white shirt). At the 12th annual Ira W. Sohn Investment Research Conference this week, almost 1,000 hedgies were horses to the stock tip-carrot, cramming into an auditorium, all in the name of investment ideas pediatric cancer and other childhood diseases.
Performing sets at this year’s event were Steve Mandel (Lone Pine Capital); Dinakar Singh (TPG-Axon Capital); David Einhorn (Greenlight Capital); William Ackman (Pershing Square Capital Management); James Chanos (Kynikos Associates); and Larry Robbins (Glenview Capital Management). Here’s a rundown of their material:
Robbins gave a power point presentation and included a slide called “Honey, I LBO’d the kids.” He also told a joke about Blackstone buying Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. A solid, if safe, routine.
Mandel said that he’s into Google, because “paid search is still in its early innings.” (We’ve got to agree with him on this one, considering what we know about the Big G’s plans to take over all of our lives via ads/algorithms in 1-2).
Wilbur Ross urged the crowd to bet for coal, which he believes will have a larger role in the electricity generation by the fourth quarter of 2007. His strong opinions on the environmental killer are bolstered by Ross’s contention that coal can be made clean and skepticism over Congress doing anything punitive. Ross also told a cute one about his wife accusing him of trying to reinvent the 19th century. Those Rosses, so adorable with their bon mots.

Bill Miller offered a unimaginative-comedians-everywhere, “What’s the deal with?” question, and asked how it was possible that he and James Chanos could both be so successful despite always being on opposite sides of the same stocks?
William Ackman gave a talk about sub-prime and “deconstructed the high levels of leverage and low capital bases underlying the bond insurers, namely MBIA and Ambac,” both of which he is short.
James Chanos predicted Apocolypto-LBO. He also suggested shorting Macquarie Bank, whose model reminds him of Enron. Unsurprisingly, a Macquarie spokesman shot down Chanos’s observation, which means he’s got to be on to something.
Dinakar Singh, at Goldman before TPG-Axon, sees value in Europe through “restructuring plays,” especially chemicals. He recommended the American International Group, among other noncredit-sensitive financial stocks.
And it’s club soda and salt. You’re welcome.
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