Of all the investors who presented ideas during last year's CNBC and Institutional Investor-sponsored hedge fund conference, Leon Cooperman of the $8 billion Omega Advisors delivered the most alpha.
As part of Delivering Alpha's 2012 "best ideas" discussion, Cooperman presented a series of 10 stock picks, arguing that fixed-income products at the time yielded so little return that buying Treasurys was akin to stopping in front of a steam roller to pick up dimes.
In the year that followed, all of Cooperman's 10 stocks have generated returns, with two—the media business Gannett and Watson Pharmaceuticals, now known as Actavis—generating more than 62 percent. Others, including Metlife and Halliburton, returned more than 42 percent. (Cooperman's worst pick, Western Union, was essentially flat as of midday on June 27.)
Last year's attendees by and large were focused on broad economic themes, such as a potential resurgence in residential housing or the boom in natural resources like farmland and timberland. Some invested heavily in their own ideas, like Blackstone Group, which spent nearly $5 billion on U.S. homes during the past year. It is now poised to see big returns, as new single-family home sales hit a five-year high in May. A number of participants also voiced concerns about the ongoing tumult in Europe, where fears of a euro zone split and the future of the continent's currency loomed.