Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House – Dallas, TX
By Cheryl Hall, The Dallas Morning News – October 7, 2007
Billionaire Harold Simmons came to an unusual investment seminar in Dallas last week to hear if his friends Rusty Rose, T. Boone Pickens and Luther King said anything worth listening to.
This local tycoon trio was on a 10-person panel of fund managers who gave 15-minute speeches about their current strategies – sort of an investment seminar, speed-dating style.
The three-hour Great Investors’ Best Ideas Symposium at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center raised more than $1.4 million for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and the Vickery Meadow Youth Development Fund.
The organizers, Dallas fund manager Shad Rowe and John Neill, a partner in Dallas-based Telesis Co., issued a challenge to the panel: Give one bright idea that, if followed, would cover the cost of the $1,000 price of admission.
The presentations were as diversified as the funds and the people who run them.
Mr. Rose, who rarely, if ever, speaks publicly about his investment, started with a warning that home prices in hyperspeculative markets such as California and Florida could crash in half or more.
Other speakers suggested investing in a Chinese pork producer, buying Sears Holdings Corp. for its real estate, shorting the stock of Moody’s Corp. and returning to the tried-and-true method of holding stocks for decades.
More than 1,000 billionaire wannabes attended. The ones I talked with afterward felt they’d gotten a thousand bucks’ worth and more.
David Burch, managing partner of Atlas Fund, a Dallas-based hedge fund, thought Sears Holdings as a real estate play made sense but couldn’t quite go for the Chinese pork producer.
Developer Preston Carter liked Susan Byrne’s suggestion that Nike Inc., Tiffany & Co. and Coach Inc. hold potential as prosperity blooms in other parts of the world hungering for status symbols.
“There was a Barron’s article about 3.5 billion people now experiencing capitalism for the first time,” Mr. Carter said, “and they’re going to want our goods and services.”
John Boone, chairman of Belmont Global Advisors Inc., liked Mr. Rose’s contention that less is more when it comes to a diversified portfolio. Mr. Rose said that since starting his investment fund in 1973, he can’t remember ever having more than 15 companies in his portfolio.
Mr. Simmons, who paid $100,000 for his ticket and left after his three friends’ presentations, was satisfied with hearing some food for thought.
“I don’t usually take away anything from anybody,” he said. “But then I don’t give away anything worthwhile, either.”
I guess he won’t be a speaker at next year’s event.
For more insights and ideas from the panel, see capsules at left. Follow the advice at your own risk.
1901 North Akard Street
Dallas, TX 75201