Lee Cooperman: Stocks are the place to be

By Lawrence Delevingne

Thu Apr 4, 2013


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The Omega founder's stock picks from Portfolios with Purpose.


Lee Cooperman presents his stock picks as Portfolios with Purpose founder Stacey Asher looks on.

Leon Cooperman is less bullish on stocks than a few years ago, but it's still the only major asset class that he thinks can make money.

Cooperman, presenting at a fundraiser for nonprofit Portfolios with Purpose, enumerated the companies he is using in the group's charity stock picking competition: Brazilian health care company Qualicorp SA (QUAL3.BZ), footwear company Crocs (CROX), mobile financial services company Monitise PLC (MONI:LN), investment company Tetragon Financial Group (TGONF) and finance company Chimera Investment Group (CIM).

 
   Lee Cooperman (Photo: Bloomberg)

The Omega Advisors founder likes all of the stocks as long positions. "I'm not going to be like Bill Ackman and trash a certain company," Cooperman said to laughs from about 275 guests at the Ana Tzarev art gallery in midtown Manhattan. "I'll talk quickly because I don't want to be sued by anybody."

Cooperman was referencing Bill Ackman's controversial presentation about Herbalife, where the Pershing Square Capital Management founder recommended shorting the stock in late December during a presentation to benefit the Ira Sohn Research Conference Foundation. Cooperman's Portfolios with Purpose charity of choice is the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.

Cooperman also gave his general views on investing. "I've been very bullish about the market for the last three or four years. I'm a bit less bullish now but I don't think it's over yet," Cooperman said. He explained that the Federal Reserve's policies have created an environment in which there are no better alternatives to common stocks; cash, government bonds and high yield credit are all unlikely to make more money than equities. "I don't see a better alternative," he said, also noting the strong state of corporate America and the likely rotation of retail investors from bonds to stocks.

Equity investor Omega managed about $7 billion as of January 1, according to Absolute Return's Billion Dollar Club. The Omega Overseas Partners fund is up 6.55% through February, according to a report by HSBC's private bank. The fund also rose 25.66% in 2012.

Portfolios with Purpose was founded in late 2011 by Stacey Asher, the former director of marketing and investor relations at hedge fund firm Permian Investment Partners. Contestants pay as much as $10,000 to enter, pick five stocks, and the mock portfolios with the best returns over the calendar year receive a share of the entrance fee pot to give to their charity of choice. The first competition last year generated $30,000 for various nonprofits; $185, 000 has been raised for 2013, according to Asher.

Besides Cooperman, other hedge fund manager participants in the mock portfolio competition include Jamie Dinan of York Capital Management, David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital and Dan Loeb of Third Point, among others. The winners so far this year are Doug Silverman of Senator Investment Group (up 32.2% year-to-date) and Akiva Katz of Bow Street Partners (up 23.2%).