Wednesday, March 5, 2008

James Altucher on Really Smart Investing

From his Financial Times column:

...Which brings me to my next activity of the day: raising money for a new fund intended to piggyback the best activist and value situations. After the wedding, I went uptown to have lunch with a Swiss-based family office that is excited about incubating the idea in exchange for equity in it.

I told them the latest ideas I was looking at. Sybase , where Sandell (a prominent activist fund) has been pushing for the company to do a buyback because of their enormous cash stockpile (they have $700m in the bank) and cash flows (they trade for only eight times cash flows and have a forward price/earnings multiple of 12). They have a hot subsidiary, Mobile 365, which handles, among other things, much of the messaging done by Research In Motion , the maker of the BlackBerry (and about 700 other mobile operators).

I also like Plains Exploration & Production , where Sandell is also an investor and they are selling some of their US oil and gas assets at top prices. Sandell thinks they have assets worth $90 a share, and yet they are only a $54 stock.

Then I went up to the Sony building on 54th Street. I meet with my friend, Dan Ripp, from the research firm Bradley Woods. He has built an enormous database that keeps track of every government action and legislation and their impacts on every stock and company.

His clients are the tier one hedge funds out there that continue to return more than 30 per cent a year in spite of the recent market problems. I beg him to let me write down the names of his clients but he refuses.

"Dan, what happened in DC today? I'm desperate for ideas to write about." Dan was drinking a quadruple espresso out of a regular grande cup.

"I spent most of the day looking at the renewable energy bill that the House passed yesterday," he said. "It might have a tough time passing the Senate but it's worth looking at all the companies that could benefit."

What's the bill about?

"Tax breaks for renewable energy facilities including wind, biomass, and geothermal. Funding for the construction of clean energy generation facilities and, among other things, incentives for ethanol and hybrid vehicles."

Who would benefit?

"I'm telling my hedge fund clients to look at American Semiconductor , Evergreen Solar , Fuel Tech , Zoltek and a few others that I'd rather not tell you."...

Or as your not-so-humble correspondent keeps harping, "Watch the Politicians", e.g.
Light Fixtures: We told you so (Watch the Politicians!)