Prominent investors offer ways to get returns

NEW YORK Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:10pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - With Europe's debt crisis bubbling along and fears rising in some quarters that the U.S. stock rally might fizzle, prominent investors have ideas ranging from betting against Europe's common currency to shorting Hewlett Packard stock and buying Capital One Financial Corp shares.

J.P.Morgan Chase & Co's Mary Callahan Erdoes, head of J.P. Morgan Asset Management, told the CNBC Delivering Alpha conference on Wednesday that her single best investment idea is to short Europe's common currency.

Famed short seller Jim Chanos, who runs hedge fund Kynikos Associates, told the conference he had set his sights on Hewlett Packard.

Meanwhile, with tongue in cheek, hedge fund manager Richard Perry who was bullish on investment opportunities in Spain and Italy, said his best idea might be to buy shoes.

J.P. Morgan's Erdoes, asked for her single best idea, offered only three words: "Shorting the Euro."

Having spent time in Europe very recently, Erdoes also said that there are investment opportunities in undervalued European companies but did not identify them.

Perry, who runs roughly $8 billion Perry Capital, said he likes Italy's and Spain's sovereign debt. He said everyone else seems to be piling into the stronger European nations' debt, but said there will be value in Italy and Spain.

Chanos, whose bet against China has made for headlines in the past, called computer company Hewlett Packard a "value trap for investors." He is worried about the company's higher debt level and its fast pace of acquisitions. This is "value destruction via acquisition," he said.

Shares of Hewlett Packard briefly slid on Chanos' comments but recovered to be up 2.2 percent to $19.29 in afternoon trading.

The panelists spoke to a room full of pension fund managers and hedge fund managers who control billions of dollars. As they search for opportunities, the panelists worried about the economy, the U.S. presidential election in November and where Europe would be headed in the coming months and years.

Leon Cooperman, who at age 69 ranks as one of the hedge fund industry's elder statesmen, put up a list of 10 favorite stocks that he owns at his firm Omega Advisers.

Cooperman warned that investing now will take a lot of patience and that bets might take years, not months, to pay off.

Among stock he likes are oil services company Halliburton, lender Capital One Financial and publisher Gannett.

Cooperman also ventured into politics and forecast that should presumed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney win the White House later this year, the stock market would jump 150 points. On the other hand he forecasts more gridlock if President Obama is reelected. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Tim Dobbyn)

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