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At investment clubs within business school throughout the world, early reputations can be made or broken when brave students take the stage for fifteen minutes to pitch their best investment idea to a hungry audience.
The annual Sohn London conference takes this idea and asks around 15 investment professionals to name their best long or short bets, along with its rationale and an expected time horizon for it to come good.
As investors get set to gather at the fifth Sohn London event this Thursday, CNBC takes a look back at some of the most and least impressive calls made at the 2015 conference which raised £255,000 ($325,000) for paediatric cancer and other childhood illnesses.
Let's start with the good news and raise a toast to Selvan Masil, founder of Westray Capital Management who kindly offered not one but two successful ideas to last year's attendees.
Masil advised going long on the British engine-maker Rolls Royce which he said had constructive industry dynamics working in its favor, alongside growing market share and an impressive new management team. Since predicting at Sohn London last December the aircraft engines business would turn the corner on its series of profit warnings in recent years, the stock is nearly 12 percent higher.
Masil's short on Swedish network equipment company, Ericsson, on the back of what he saw as unfavorable pricing dynamics in an ever more commoditized industry, proved an even more prescient bet with the stock slumping around 40 percent.
The vocal short seller Carson Block suggested attendees take a critical look at cybersecurity company Proofpoint due to increasing competition from weighty tech players such as Microsoft and Cisco as well as a loss of some key client accounts and being forced into discounted pricing.
Hopefully the founder of Muddy Waters covered his short position in early February as after halving in price by that point, the stock has since recovered to currently sit at around 3 percentage points higher than its level last December.
It was Michael Karsch, founder and CEO of Hunter Peak Investments who took the wooden spoon last year,having pitched a long recommendation on textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Karsch argued that the company was less vulnerable to digital disruption than commonly feared and a couple of earnings disappointments made for a good entry point. Since last year's conference the shares have slumped by over 40 percent – however he did give a three year time horizon for them to double in value so it's not over yet.
Turning to Thursday's event, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from TCI founder Christopher Hohn who has been busy this year trying to improve the situation for Volkswagen investors, Adrian Croxson who heads up European equities at Och-Ziff and ex-Goldman Sachs star Elif Aktug who has held the reins at Pictet's Agora Fund since its 2011 launch.
In addition, Bob Bishop of Impala and Bo Börtemark of Carve Capital will be among those trying to improve on the Sohn London Class of 2015's performance.
See you there!
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