Leon Cooperman Sees Mixed Market Ahead but Loves 5 Top Stock Picks

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Leon Cooperman of Omega Advisors spoke at the Delivering Alpha conference on Tuesday morning. He is a heavyweight on Wall Street and is considered one of the preeminent hedge fund managers these days. His latest 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission showed equity holdings of nearly $2.4 billion.

There were two key takes from Cooperman worth noting. The first was that equities were not in a bubble, but the second major take was that bonds have been in a bubble. He sees equity valuations being more or less full but fair, and he thinks that the stock market could face a 5% pullback. And Cooperman thinks that stocks will return in the 5% to 8% range, when counting dividends in the total return mix.

Cooperman also provided five picks for investors, and it turns out that all five were in his 13F filing from August. As far as what might prompt that elusive market correction, the geopolitical issues, North Korea and perhaps even a disappointing earnings season were all noted as possible drivers.

Here are Cooperman’s five picks from Tuesday’s conference notes, along with what the holdings were as of June 30, 2017, in the 13F filing from August.

First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC) was listed as 8.11 million shares, worth $147.6 million. The stock has a 52-week trading range of $12.74 to $19.20, with a consensus analyst price target of $20.52. The company’s market cap is $16.8 billion. Its shares were actually down 3.3% at $18.22 on Tuesday morning, but that was because private equity holder KKR now intends to unload 85 million in a secondary offering.

Shire PLC (NASDAQ: SHPG) was listed as 500,207 shares, worth $82.67 million in the August filing, and it was considered an underappreciated drug player. These American depositary shares were not up on the day shortly after the endorsement, down just six cents at $161.63. Shire has a consensus price target of $226.38 and a 52-week range of $139.36 to $209.22. The market cap is $47.9 billion, and the dividend yield is 0.6%.

Cooperman gave two oil and gas picks in which he thinks the value is underappreciated and that they will benefit as oil moves back up toward $60 a barrel in the year ahead.

One pick was Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES), with almost 1 million shares held, worth $43 million. This stock was up 1.3% at $41.44 after Cooperman’s endorsement. The 52-week range is $37.25 to $65.56, and the consensus price target on Hess is $51.26. The company has a market cap of $13.2 billion and a dividend yield of 2.4%.

The second energy pick was WPX Energy Inc. (NYSE: WPX), as a more speculative company, and that holding was only 3.66 million shares, worth 35.4 million. Its shares were up 2.3% at $10.02 after Cooperman endorsed it. WPX has a consensus price target of $15.26 and a 52-week range of $8.40 to $16.17. The market cap is $4.0 billion.

And United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) was Cooperman’s airline pick, and he said that stock could rise to $100 with management’s targets and efforts now.  Shares of United Continental were actually down 0.4% at $60.20 on Tuesday morning, in a 52-week range of $49.28 to $83.04. The consensus analyst target is $81.38, and the company has a market cap of $18.3 billion.

Leon Cooperman is one of the top “whales” from the hedge fund world that investors like to follow. Maybe he has increased his holdings in each of these since June, but we won’t know that until the September 30 cut-off in the mid-November 13F filings.