For two years and now going on a third, the Delivering Alpha conference — co-hosted by Institutional Investor and CNBC — has brought together the finest financial minds to discuss the pressing issues of the day and share their acute understanding of the markets. Some, like Omega Advisors founder Leon Cooperman, strike with remarkable accuracy. The soon-to-be-septuagenarian scored a perfect ten out often with his stock picks on last year’s Best Ideas panel.

Others can remind us just how difficult professional investing can be, even for a seasoned veteran.

Sitting alongside Cooperman and other luminaries, James Chanos laid out his best idea for 2012: Shorting the stock of PC maker Hewlett-Packard Co.

That Chanos touted a short trade as his best idea should come as no real surprise. The name of his hedge fund firm, Kynikos, is Greek for cynic, and he was on the right side of one of the more newsworthy stock collapses in recent history — Enron. Chanos was one of the earliest traders to make sense of the Houston-based energy giant’s suspect accounting via mark-to-model pricing, and profited handsomely.

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