Here Are The Real Highlights Of The Ira Sohn Conference

bill ackman carl icahn

Now for some light weekend reading: the non-stock-tip highlights of the Ira Sohn Investor Conference.

The conference began with the theme song from The Hills, and ended with Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York.

And here’s what happened in between:

Who wore what (Best dressed: ** Honorable Mentions: *

  • Erez Kalir: Blue tie, white or possibly a super light pink shirt, but that could just be my colour blindness
  • Dinakar Singh: Blue shirt, purple tie
  • Jeff Aronson: Green tie
  • Bob Howard: Blue shirt, gold tie
  • Phil Falcone: Aqua-y-very-bright-light-blue tie
  • Jim Chanos: Purple tie, grey suit
  • Steve Feinberg: grey tie
  • Tim May: Bright reddy-orangey tie
  • Steve Eisman: Grey suit, striped shirt and NO tie. *
  • Jeff Gundlach:  Blue suit — not navy, way more vivid that that–  and green tie. **
  • Marc Faber: Blue shirt, red tie, no jacket.
  • Bill Ackman: I forgot to take note, but he has very nice silver hair and I would be remiss not to requote a fellow reporter who described him as the Richard Gere of the hedge fund world. Totally.
  • Joel Greenblatt: Blue tie
  • Mark Hart III: A pretty sweet mustache. And a very serious face.
  • David Einhorn: Green tie.
  • Carl Icahn: Grey pinstripe suit, blue striped tie, blue shirt with white collar. **

Best One-liners

  • Erez Kalir: “Last time I spoke in front of this many people was at my Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem” 
  • Bob Howard, when he was selling the Home Shopping Network to the audience: “I found out in the car on the way over here that our head trader Ralph is a big proponent.” (Laughter). “I know you’re out their Ralph.” (More laughter).
  • Jim Chanos on the awesomeness of the conference: “Everyone gets something out of… With the exception of the companies I talk about.”
  • Jim Chanos: “This year I don’t want to piss off any more countries with a billion people, so today we’ll upset the greenies. There’s a lot less of them…”
  • Jim Chanos: “I don’t even eat Chinese food anymore.”
  • Steve Eisman, after a long bet on a private educational institution won a contest judged by Ackman and Einhorn and a photo of Eisman was included in the winning presentation: “I had nothing to say about for-profit because I thought they’d put a hit out on me if I did. What I will say is I really really despise that photograph of myself. It kind of makes me look a little fat. My parents are in the audience… I’m sure my mother turned to my father and said: he’s a little more handsome than that.”
  • Ken Langone: “I never felt wealthy until I wrote a decent check to charity… Then I realised — well, I must have that much in the bank.”
  • Bill Ackman on improvements to the organisation and stock at Family Dollar: “Last time I was there, I saw Dan Loeb working his way through the aisles, and he couldn’t find his surfing wax.”
  • David Einhorn: “Did anybody else notice that Julie Hagerty looks a little like Ben Bernanke?” Trust me, this way funny. Because of this.
  • David Einhorn on one of his long bets, Delta Lloyd: “No, I’m not talking about Delta of Lloyd — that would be what he is paid and what people think he should be paid.” 
  • Carl Icahn: “I made a fortune studying natural stupidity”

Other moments of note

  • Phil Falcone’s exasperated: Lightsquared is a “terrestrial network, not a satellite network,” people. 
  • The Einhorn assault on Ballmer.
  • The Einhorn video-clip-metaphor.
  • Bill Ackman is way taller than I thought he’d be.

And finally, I’m giving a whole section to the words uttered by Carl Icahn, just because…  (Remember to read each sentence with a strong Queens accent)

  • After he was introduced with the line: I don’t think he’s ever followed someone richer than him, so this is new for him… “
  • “Doug told me to keep this short, keep it to 15 minutes. I’m say, Doug — I’m doing you a favour. I’m a very sort after speaker!”
  • “No-one is doing activism like the old days”
  • “My father always told me I had no talent…”
  • “I don’t why I don’t get a premium, and Warren gets a premium. Maybe it’s because he’s older.”