Top investors and finance sector heavyweights recently gathered in Toronto to take part in the Sohn Capitalize for Kids Conference, which is conducted every year to spread awareness and raise money for children’s brain and mental health initiatives. Among the renowned investors who pitched their favorite companies during the event were activist investor Jeffrey Smith, as well as Tom Russo and Alexander Roepers.
We’ll take a look at which companies these investors like and also analyze what other hedge funds think about them. Also, if you’re interested in attending the conference one day or simply visiting the great city of Toronto for any reason, be sure to check out this list of 8 Places to Visit in Toronto, Canada.
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Stewart Information Services Has a Strong Balance Sheet and Future
Jeffrey Smith thinks Stewart Information Services Corp (NYSE:STC) has a strong network built over decades and that around 50% of its sales are through direct channels. The Texas-based title insurance company has 12% market share in the industry, which Smith thinks is less risky than conventional insurance companies. He thinks loss rates for title insurers have plummeted since 2009. Smith also thinks that the company’s margins could rise in the future due to its cost-cutting measures. The company has been underperforming due to management issues, but has a strong balance sheet and growth prospects, added Smith. Stewart Information recently reached an agreement with Jeffrey Smith’s fund Starboard Value LP under which Stewart Information Services Corp (NYSE:STC) will add four new members to its Board of Directors, including Matthew Morris, the current CEO of the company. Mr. Smith started discussions with Stewart Information after buying a 9.9% stake in the company in August. A total of 14 funds tracked by Insider Monkey were bullish on Stewart Information Services Corp (NYSE:STC) as of the end of the second quarter.
MasterCard’s Growth Opportunities
Gardner Russo & Gardner LLC’s Tom Russo is long Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA). The 72-year old investor thinks that with about 85% of the world still using cash, there is still a huge growth opportunity for MasterCard, as card-based transactions are bound to expand globally. Russo thinks that MasterCard’s earnings are currently depressed, mainly because the company’s growth initiatives are adding to its operating expenses. Russo compared Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) to Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC), which he thinks is “attractive”, but lacks such reinvestment opportunities, and which has also faced a crisis in the form of its unauthorized bank accounts scandal. Thus, MasterCard is a better investment option than Wells Fargo, according to Russo. A total of 82 funds tracked by Insider Monkey are long Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) as of the end of June.
On the next page we’ll discuss the three companies pitched by Alex Roepers.