Investors looking for stock ideas may want to tune into the Value Investing Congress, an investor event held twice a year, that is fast becoming a must attend event for the value investing crowd.
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About the Event
The Value Investing Congress is held twice a year - in New York City in October, and in May in Pasadena, California - and as the event has started to garner publicity, the speaker list is attracting more and more heavyweights. Whitney Tilson, who runs a shop called T2 Partners, started the event several years back.

The California event is held in conjunction with the Wesco Financial (NYSE:WSC) annual investor meeting. Legendary value investor Charlie Munger runs Wesco Financial, which is also 80% owned by Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A).

However, it's not cheap to attend, at more than $2,000, but there are plenty of notes floating around on different blogs, and investors can download the presentations as well.

One of this year's speakers was Bill Ackman, the founder of Pershing Square Capital Management LP. Ackman is long the Corrections Corp. of America (NYSE:CXW). This company owns correctional and detention facilities in the U.S., and manages these properties for the government.

Ackman bases his investment thesis on the limited supply of new prisons being built, coupled with strong growth in prison populations. This supply demand imbalance should give a strong growth wind to the business. Ackman now has a position just under 10% of the stock. The stock does have a forward price to earnings ratio of around 18, so valuation is not all that cheap, and it is up 150% off its bottom back in March, 2009.

Whitney Tilson discussed his (still) bearish view on housing and believes a second wave of losses is coming, including prime, sub prime and home equity loans. He feels a short position in housing using the Dow Jones US Home Construction iShares (NYSE:ITB) is a good bet.

One interesting thing about the Value Investing Congress is that many of the speakers pushed gold as an investment. Since investing in gold has now become the consensus thinking in the market, it doesn't seem to flow with the typical contrarian streak that runs within a true value investor.

David Einhorn was one who appeared at the Value Investing Congress to talk up gold as an investment. Einhorn runs Greenlight Capital, another hedge fund. Einhorn has liked gold for quite some time, but no longer uses the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE:GLD). He instead owns the physical asset, and believes that as long as our government's "monetary and fiscal policies are poor," the investment should do well.

The Bottom Line
Good investment ideas can come from many different places, and the twice-yearly Value Investing Congress is a fertile place for them, with the proviso that investors should do their own research and not blindly follow what others are doing. (Learn more about the tenets of value investing in our article: The Value Investor's Handbook.)

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