Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House – Dallas, TX
By Cheryl Hall, The Dallas Morning News – September 3, 2008
Dallas businessmen Shad Rowe and John Neill are hoping for a resounding encore to a three-hour investment show last year that raised $1.4 million for their two favorite charities.
Mr. Rowe, a well-known Dallas investment fund manager, and Mr. Neill, who owns senior living properties in North Texas, are producing an investment symposium Oct. 7 at the Meyerson Symphony Center, a repeat engagement of their Great Investors’ Best Ideas Foundation Investment Symposium last year.
The virtuosos will be 10 prominent investors who will share the mental notes of their investment scores.
Hearing from likes of Dallas icons T. Boone Pickens and Rusty Rose, president and owner of Cardinal Investment Co., who are back by popular demand, won’t come cheap. Tickets cost $1,000, but $960 of that is tax deductible.
Mr. Rowe, president of Rowe & Co., and Mr. Neill, a partner with Dallas-based Telesis Co., are footing the $200,000 bill for putting on the symposium at the symphony hall. And speakers donate their time and expertise.
So every buck from ticket sales and sponsorships will go to Mr. Rowe’s personal mission, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and Mr. Neill’s pet cause, the Vickery Meadow Youth Development Fund, which helps at-risk kids in the low-income neighborhood east of Central Expressway near NorthPark Center.
Speakers will each get 15 minutes to tell how they do what they do. They include Britt Harris, chief investment officer of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas; Lee Hobson, managing partner of Dallas-based Highside Capital Management, a $4 billion private equity hedge fund; and well-known venture capitalist John Muse, chairman and co-founder of HM Capital Partners LLC.
“These are all well-respected major investors with coherent philosophies and time-tested results,” says Mr. Rowe, positioning the symposium as a crash course in investment strategy, not a buy-and-sell forum.
You see, some of last year’s speaker picks turned out to be moon howlers. AIG fell 70 percent. Allegheny Technology Ltd. lost half its value. Sears Holdings Corp. and General Electric are both down by a third.
It’s been a bear market since October, reminds Mr. Rowe.
“And it points out just how hard it is to do what these guys do,” says Mr. Neill. “Some of their ideas may fit into that classic case of they may not be wrong, they just may be early. This gives you the opportunity to listen to the forward thinking of these people. But then you still have to go home and process your information.”
Mr. Pickens and Mr. Rose will be back because they were huge draws who were mostly on target last year.
Mr. Pickens forecast that world oil demand would push record energy prices even higher. Of his seven energy-related picks, five rose in value since October.
Mr. Rose almost never speaks publicly about how he chooses to deploy his money but does this gig for his longtime friend, Mr. Rowe, who has Parkinson’s.
Last year, Mr. Rose predicted that housing prices on the two coasts would plunge much deeper. He suggested shorting big residential builders.
But even more interesting was how he came to this conclusion. Mr. Rose likens his investing to hockey great Wayne Gretzky’s skating: Skate (i.e. invest) to where the puck is headed, not where it is now.
The prescient star for me was David Einhorn, president Greenlight Capital Inc., who suggested shorting Moody’s stock. The fund manager showed how the rating services, especially Moody’s, had corrupted their independent thinking and rating brand by taking fees from the folks issuing the securities.
“If you had bought the idea that the rating agencies were full of beans, that would have led you to all sorts of other good decisions,” says Mr. Rowe.
Believing in the Texas adage of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, not much is changing from last year, which raised $700,000 for each beneficiary.
But there is one modification, says Mr. Neill: “We’ve added lighted pens so people can see when they take notes.”
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