Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House – Dallas, TX
By Cheyrl Hall, The Dallas Morning News – September 16, 2009
Two years ago, Dallas investor Rusty Rose drew an audible gasp when he told the Great Investors' Best Ideas investment symposium that housing prices nationwide would plunge 20 percent in the year ahead.
He was right.
Rose got a similar reaction when he warned the second GIBI audience at the Meyerson Symphony Center that the fat lady was still waiting to sing.
He was right again.
So with the third annual charitable event coming up next month, will the principal of Cardinal Investments change his tune?
Well, yes and no.
Housing is such a bad idea for anyone's portfolio that Rose probably won't mention it at the Oct. 6 event, Dallas' largest and most expensive gathering of investors that's open to the public. Tickets are $1,000, and there's a Web site at www.gibidallas.com.
Housing prices might be stabilizing, but so what, Rose says. Even if we've hit bottom – and he's doesn't think we have – he sees absolutely nothing to bring us out of the hole.
"I would guess that the worst is not over. But I wouldn't guess down 20 percent [in home values] again this year," he says. "Maybe it's minus 5 [percent] or maybe it's plus 2. Big deal."
Rose is contemplating other topics for the Great Investors' Best Ideas investment symposium, where he and eight other investment-world heavyweights will offer far-flung – but hopefully not far-fetched – ideas.
Each will have 15 minutes to offer picks for making real money in real time. The fast-paced meeting starts in the early afternoon and ends by suppertime.
This year's lineup also includes famed New York investor Mario Gabelli and hedge fund manager David Einhorn, who made a fortune by shorting Lehman Brothers.
Every dollar from sponsorships and tickets goes to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research and the Vickery Meadow Youth Development Fund, which helps at-risk kids in a neighborhood east of Central Expressway.
That's because Dallas businessmen Shad Rowe (who has Parkinson's disease) and John Neill (who is dedicated to the Dallas youth organization) foot the entire $200,000 cost.
The speakers donate their time. Rose, who rarely speaks publicly, does it for his buddy Rowe.
The charities received more than $1 million apiece from the two previous symposiums. Rowe and Neill expect to hand over another $500,000-plus to each this year despite the recession – or maybe because of it.
Rowe, a well-known Dallas investment fund manager, and Neill, who owns senior living properties in North Texas, contend that there's never been a better time to fork over a grand.
"There's this wall of cash building among investors too scared to do anything with it," says Rowe of Greenbrier Partners Ltd. "Americans aren't going to sit around moping forever. I have been in the investment business for 37 years. These are the people I want to listen to."
So far, sponsorships are holding up better than expected and individual ticket sales are running ahead of last year, says Neill, a partner with Dallas-based Telesis Co.
"We all had our crystal balls broken in 2008," Neill says. "We'll hear a lot of well-thought-out opinions by people approaching the same question from very different directions. The answer will be there. The person in the audience has to be perceptive enough to figure out which one it is."
Rose won't tip his hand. But he says he wants to talk about "our individual responsibility as a voter, as a purchaser of stocks and as an exerciser of shareholder rights."
You see, he's worried that pushing moral and ethical boundaries has become the norm.
"Is that the way we want it?" Rose asks. "My inclination is to say it's not. I'm trying to figure out how I can say that without seeming like a gospel preacher on Sunday morning and sounding like I'm holier than thou – because I'm not."
Now that might be worth the price of admission.
1901 North Akard Street
Dallas, TX 75201