By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK May 8 In the hedge fund world, the Sohn Investment Conference is a big event, but investors should tread carefully when trying to piggyback on the "best ideas" of the bold-faced-name money managers this year.
History has shown that top picks of managers presented at the charitable event often don't pan out over the long haul.
For instance, last year Greenlight Capital's David Einhorn spent a portion of his 15 minutes praising shares of Apple , a pick that everyone knows has not worked out well for the closely watched hedge fund manager. Shares of Apple have fallen about 17 percent over the past year.
DoubleLine Capital's Jeffery Gundlach, who early on was calling for Apple's stock to plummet, didn't do as well with his recommendation last year to short upscale retailer Nordstrom . The stock is up about 14 percent since last year's conference, which will be held again Wednesday afternoon in New York.
But maybe the biggest busted call from last year's conference came from Pershing Square Capital Management's William Ackman, who talked up his hedge funds' big long bet on retailer J.C. Penney Co.
Ackman's bullish bet on a plan to upscale J.C. Penney is in tatters, and Ron Johnson, the chief executive he helped bring in to lead the turnaround, was recently ousted. Shares of J.C. Penney are down 49 percent and the stock's poor performance has put some tarnish on Ackman's image as a hot stock picker.
This year's picks from Einhorn, Ackman and Gundlach could do better.
Joining with them will be other well-known money managers, including noted shortseller James Chanos, the founder of Kynikos Associates; Elliott Management's Paul Singer, and Hayman Capital's Kyle Bass.
And while stock picking will rule the day, the event does raise money for a worthy cause, supporting pediatric cancer research. The conference and a related foundation are named in honor of Ira Sohn, who worked on Wall Street and died of cancer at the age of 29.
This is the 18th year for the conference, which has garnered more attention ever since Einhorn used it in 2008 as a platform to point out problems with Lehman Brothers on the eve of the financial crisis.