Avenue Capital's Lasry: This isn't a time to panic, it's a time for opportunities

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The U.S. is not headed toward a recession, and the current financial climate still has good investment opportunities, according to a top hedge fund manager.

Avenue Capital's Marc Lasry appeared on CNBC's "Fast Money: Halftime Report" on Friday amid choppy stock trading and continued oil price pain. Yet despite recent worries, Lasry struck a cautiously optimistic tone on the U.S. economy.

"I don't think we're going into a recession, I think it's whether we're growing at 1 or 2 percent," he said. "So the fact that you've got lower GDP, that's fine, but at the end of the day the U.S. economy is doing fine."

In fact, the hedge fund manager said, there are good openings for discerning investors.

"I don't think it's a time to panic, I think it's actually a time where you've got opportunities out there. Invest in solid companies and you'll end up doing pretty well," Lasry said.

These strong companies may look a lot more domestically focused that the recent spate of high flying multinationals, he projected.

"The problem has been that over the last couple years, everybody's been focused on Asia to fund their growth, and everybody was saying you need to be a multinational company — that's where you want to be investing," he said. "Now you're seeing that shift, and you'll see that the companies that focus on the U.S., or have the majority of their earnings coming out of the U.S., those are going to grow."

He added that Europe-focused countries may also see a similar boost.

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The expert investor said he sees "a ton of opportunities" in the energy sector — but not in equities. Instead he said his firm is buying debt that sees a coupon of about 12 percent "while you're getting paid to wait."

He projected that, in the next two to five years, "you're either going to get paid off, or you'll end up owning these companies" as debt is converted into equity.

Looking five years out, Lasry said oil "can't stay where it is" in the $30 price range, and he's in a position to wait it out.

"The whole key to investing in this industry right now is: Do you have the luxury of time?" he said. "If you have the luxury of time, you're going to do fine. If you don't have that luxury of time you're going to get hurt."

On his projection for the U.S. Federal Reserve, whose actions have broad influence across markets, Lasry said he expects the central bank will move "a lot slower than people think" on its pace of rate hikes.

"Maybe they raise it one more time this year," he said, projecting a much lower figure than the Fed's own estimates of about four hikes.

Avenue, a noted distressed debt firm, shut down its original hedge fund last year amid a tumultuous period for the high-yield credit market. Oil prices — which touched 12-year lows on Thursday — have added to the pain in distressed debt.