Its becoming an annual tradition. Every year it seems multiple times, in some cases Leon Cooperman takes the stage to discuss his best investment ideas. And much like the plot in the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, the themes of the Omega Advisors founders presentations seem to repeat themselves time and again.
Cooperman, however, isnt cursed by Punxsutawney Phils shadow to relive the same day over and over. Rather the longtime hedge fund manager is stuck fortunately for his investors in a perpetual loop of bullishness on equities, particularly in the U.S.
The former Goldman Sachs Asset Management CEO started Omega in 1991. When this year began it had $7.3 billion in assets under management, good enough for No. 73 in the Hedge Fund 100 ranking of the worlds biggest hedge fund firms compiled by Institutional Investors Alpha. The firms flagship fund returned between 27 and 28 percent last year and posted first quarter gains of 9 percent to start 2013 putting it among the best-performing hedge funds.
Cooperman appeared at the first two Delivering Alpha conferences the daylong, widely attended assembly of whos who in finance and investing. Co-hosted by Institutional Investor and CNBC, this years edition of the fund-fest will take place on Wednesday, July 17, at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.
As he did in 2011, Cooperman touted stocks as the best house in the financial asset neighborhood while on the podium last year, adding it was still unclear if its a good or bad neighborhood. He cited four factors for his moderately constructive view of the U.S. economy. First was the belief that no recession was on the horizon; next the extraordinarily accommodative monetary policy the Federal Reserve was pushing; third, the reasonable valuation of companies; and last, the increased willingness of investors to take risks.
And, as he did during the first Delivering Alpha conference, Cooperman last year laid out ten hot stocks he believed were primed to move upward. Once again he offered the crowd a wide range of sectors, from technology and financial services to energy, health care and media. Heres how Coopermans top stock picks from Delivering Alpha 2012 did over the past year:
AIA Group (12.99 Hong Kong) American International Groups Asian spin-off was the lone non-U.S. equity. The Hong Kongbased insurance company has thrived since breaking from AIG in a 2010 IPO. AIA purchased INGs Malaysian insurance unit in October for $1.73 billion, securing the top insurance spot in that market and helping propel Coopermans pick to a 18 percent gain during the past year.
Actavis (ACT) Known as Watson Pharmaceuticals when Cooperman ballyhooed the stock, the Parsippany, New Jerseybased drug maker changed its name effective January following its November 2012 acquisition of Switzerlands Actavis Group. The merger created the worlds third-largest global generics company. Since July 2012, the share price has risen over 60 percent, to $124. In May of this year, Actavis announced an agreement to purchase rival producer Warner Chilcott in a $8.5 billion all-stock deal.
Capital One Financial (COF) Many large financial services companies have done well over the past year. Visa is up almost 50 percent since Coopermans presentation, while MasterCard and American Express are up 34 percent and 30 percent, respectively. Capital One posted a steady share price increase as well, though not as impressive as its fellow sector cohorts. The McLean, Virginiabased holding company was up more than 14 percent.
Express Scripts (ESRX) Shares of pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts took a hit in November after reining in analyst 2013 expectations during an earnings call but have since rebounded. The stock is up more than 10 percent since last July. The Cool Valley, Missouri, companys $29 billion acquisition of rival Medco in April 2012 made Express Scripts the U.S.s largest pharmacy benefits manager.
Gannett Co. (GCI) Who says print is dead? The owner of USA Today and other newspapers has seen its shares soar 70 percent since Cooperman touted it at Delivering Alpha. In October, Gannett acquired Rovion, a Bostonbased advertisement agency, to aid in its digital expansion. Gannett is the U.S.s largest publisher of newspapers by total daily circulation.