Barron's 2008 Roundtable Part 2 - Getting Defensive

NO WIMPS ALLOWED IS THE UNSPOKEN rule at our annual Roundtable. That's because the leading investment lights we assemble each January must make the case for their picks, pans and predictions not only to the editors of Barron's but each other, a legendary tough crowd. This year; especially, few assumptions were left unchallenged, perhaps because spot-on stock-picking will have to do the heavy lifting if the group's gloomy economic and market forecasts prove prescient. Alas, since we met in Manhattan Jan. 7, they have.

Art Samberg, founder and chief of everything at Pequot Capital Management in Westport, Conn., is first up in this week's Roundtable installment, the second of three. Art made his name in tech, but makes his clients money wherever he finds value, which currently includes Turkey and Brazil. His '07 picks, in the main, were something to e-mail home about, and the savvy analysis that informs his latest recommendations -- in energy, technology and media -- helps explains why.

Fred Hickey, who pens the High-Tech Strategist newsletter in Nashua, N.H., is a belt-and-suspenders investor these days, with a particular fondness for gold. He probably should have worn a helmet, too, when he was forced to defend a pair of tech shorts, since similar recommendations made last year haven't worked out -- yet. Then again, Fred has been there before, loudly warning investors away from "can't miss" stocks that later missed.

The U.S. housing market is in a bit of a pickle; new-home construction plunged last year to a near-three-decade low. Not that that stopped Meryl Witmer, a partner in New York's Eagle Capital Partners, from heaping praise on a pair of housing-related concerns at our latest confab. With her knack for research and nose for numbers, Meryl time and again looks beyond the obvious, which has made her one of today's most successful -- and admired -- investors.

Mario Gabelli, head of Gamco Investors in Rye, N.Y., is the closer this week, with nine picks on both sides of the Atlantic and an 18-year-old bottle of Scotch, another of his annual Roundtable props. His investment ideas, which range from auto parts to satellites to food and drink, need no propping up, however, given Mario's expertise in both deals and steals.

The Roundtable's other members chimed in early and often as these four went to work. If two opinions make a market, 11 make for energetic and entertaining debate.

Direct Link - Getting Defensive.

No comments: