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More 'Value Investing Congress' ideas, from Willis to Wausau

Jeffrey Ubben, ValueAct Capital
Source: CNBC
Jeffrey Ubben, ValueAct Capital

The Value Investing Congress wrapped up Tuesday in New York City, but not before additional money managers added some new stock recommendations.

(Read more: Top picks from the Value Investing Congress)

ValueAct's Ubben: reinsurer Willis undervalued

Jeffrey Ubben of $11 billion activist investor ValueAct Capital recommended buying global reinsurance company Willis Group, saying the flat earnings that characterized the last five years are set to pick up.

Ubben noted that the company's North American and emerging markets businesses were growing again; new leadership under recent CEO appointment Dominic Casserley was positive; and cash flow was accelerating. He said the company has "strong positioning" in a growing industry and that recent entrants in the reinsurance business like hedge funds were "less sophisticated" than Willis (SAC Capital Advisors and Greenlight Capital are examples of hedge fund firms who have launched reinsurance arms).

Ubben declined to comment on one of ValueAct's highest profile investments, Microsoft. "We are excited to be working with them," he said slyly in response to a question from the audience about his firm's $2 billion investment. "I can't really talk...because we are in the middle of stuff."

(Read more: Microsoft's $40 billion buy back)

Starboard's Jeffrey Smith: I love toilet paper

Jeffrey Smith of $1.5 billion activist investor Starboard Value continued his effort to extract value out of Wausau Paper Corp. Smith, who has been engaged with the company since 2011 and has seats on the board, said the tissue maker was running a solid business but still had significant improvements it could make.

Smith detailed several examples of cutting overhead costs and growing market share. He said the company had enough cash to buy back up to $100 million of its stock.

He called the company's tissues—which includes unbranded toilet paper and other specialty tissue for offices—a "gem" and a "beautiful, beautiful" business. Smith said Wausau could go "up market" with premier toilet paper thanks to a new production machine and new recycling techniques.

Smith said Wausau Paper is "under followed, under levered, under valued." He urged the company to rebrand itself as the pure play tissue maker it has become since Starboard invested, not the paper-centric or Wisconsin-based business the legacy name incorrectly implies.

The stock jumped following Smith's comment to around $12.5 a share, up from $11.9.

Marcato's McGuire: go long rentals

Mick McGuire of $2 billion hedge fund firm Marcato Capital Management recommended going long equipment rental company United Rentals Inc. He said that the company will benefit as commercial and industrial construction recovers and builders increasingly rent equipment because of the cost savings.

"We think current valuation is fairly attractive," McGuire said.

McGuire made brief comments on another Marcato investment, Sotheby's. "There's a lot of opportunity there," he said. "We've have a good dialogue with their management team so far," he added. McGuire said their planned review of the business was a "really productive step."

(Read more: Third Point hedge fund increases Sotheby's stake)

Contest winners: short Lifelock and long Ashland

Additional ideas were presented by winners of the annual Value Investing Challenge, a stock picking contest in collaboration with investing networking and idea website SumZero.

Winner Daniel Lawrence of Elmrox Investment Group recommended specialty chemicals business Ashland Inc. long, which he said was undervalued.

And Pacific West Land analyst David Swartz, the runner up, recommended shorting LifeLock. He called the company's advertising practices deceptive and that its identity theft prevention business failed to actually stop common types of fraud.

A company spokesman sent this statement to CNBC.com in response: "LifeLock strongly disagrees with many of the inaccurate statements and assumptions made by analyst David Swartz. We remain confident in our strategies for growth and ability to deliver long-term value for shareholders. Identity fraud remains a serious and growing issue in the U.S., affecting 12.6 million consumers and costing $20.9 billion in 2012," the company said. "LifeLock has achieved a best-in-class annual member retention rate of over 87 percent in the last year alone, which speaks to our unique value proposition for our customers and the concern our members have for the crime of identity theft."

Winklevoss twins: bitcoin is "gold 2.0"

Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss, the twins best known for their role in the early days of Facebook, believe the online currency bitcoin is "digital gold." (See CNBC.com's full story on the comments: Bitcoin 'the Internet of money': Winklevoss twins)

—By CNBC's Lawrence Delevingne. Follow him on Twitter @ldelevingne.

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