Hedge fund managers warn of tech bubble

While they don't know when it will burst, they do recommend looking to Europe if you want a safer bet.

By MSN Money producer Mar 12, 2014 9:06AM

Bubbles in front of the New York Stock Exchange (© Siegfried Layda/Getty Images)By Lawrence Delevingne, CNBC CNBC.com

Prominent money managers are warning of a bubble in some technology stocks and recommending investors avoid emerging markets in favor of Europe. 

"The high probability is when you look back on this period five years from now, you'll say some of these companies grew into their (earnings) multiples ... but I think biotech and other areas in tech have seen multiple expansions beyond what we can justify beyond any kind of reasonable cash flow expectations," Doug Silverman, co-founder of $6.7 billion hedge fund firm Senator Investment Group, said Monday at the Portfolios with Purpose Awards Night in New York. 

"You can only call it a bubble. But I have not guessed when it will end," Silverman added. 

Rich Pzena of $23.7 billion Pzena Investments agreed.  

"Yeah, I think we are in a bubble. I don't know if I would say it's broadly in tech stocks. I think it's in certain stocks. But the hype feels like we're in another Internet-type bubble like 1999," Pzena said. 

"I agree it's not predictable when it will end. But what is predictable is that most of the companies won't grow into their multiples. And shorting them with guts and not looking at the portfolio for three years is probably a smart thing to do," Pzena added. 

Pzena's firm manages long-only funds that focus on investing in stocks to appreciate, unlike a hedge fund that also bets on their decline, or "shorting."  

James Dinan of $21 billion hedge fund firm York Capital Management said he was avoiding "hyper-growth" businesses, but wasn't shorting them either.  

"The last thing we want to be is the proverbial investor being carried out on the stretcher," Dinan said of betting against irrationally priced stocks. 

Dinan noted that most of York's exposure was in the U.S. despite uncertainty about economic growth.  

"I personally don't see equity (price) expansions in the U.S. equity markets being more likely than not," Dinan said. "The U.S. is not doing, in my view, as well as people are told. Everyone keeps blaming the weather, the weather, the weather. At some point you have to stop blaming the weather." 

The managers were also bearish on emerging markets.

"The emerging market world is really going to take a big hit," Dinan said in noting the global impact of slowing economic growth in China. "We're going to continue to see a lot more turmoil ... and that's going to keep investors on the edge."  

Silverman said that Senator invests "very little" in emerging markets but tracks them nonetheless. "Emerging markets are really tricky so we are staying away from them," he said. 

Pzena also noted that the stocks he prefers in emerging markets -- those that benefit from the rising middle class -- are still not cheap despite the prices for other companies tied to commodities and construction decreasing in value. 

Pzena said he prefers Europe.  

"Europe is probably one of the best values around -- the cheapest markets. Comparable companies that are global in nature and have the same kind of mix of business, sell for significantly lower prices in Europe -- the same company -- as it would in the U.S.," he said. 

The comments were made at an event celebrating the winner of Portfolios with Purpose, a nonprofit founded by former hedge fund marketer Stacey Asher in 2011. The group stages a stock-picking competition for investors, and the winners steer money pooled from entrance fees to their favorite charities.

A total of 416 players from eight countries competed in the 2013 contest, raising $198,700 for charity. Silverman won the "Master Class" division with a return of 103 percent. The Jericho Project, which helps provide housing to the poor in New York City, received $66,000 as a result. Dinan finished second (up 60 percent) and Pzena third (up 58 percent).

The 2014 edition of the contest features Kyle Bass of Hayman Capital, Leon Cooperman of Omega Advisors and Marc Lasry of Avenue Capital, among other well-known hedge fund managers.

More from CNBC:

Mar 12, 2014 9:32AM
Bubble?  How about fraud?  But then again greed does do strange things to strange people.  If you have half an inkling as to how Wall Street works and the pressures and tactics these characters learn over the years you would have a feeling that stuff just doesn't add up and hasn't for the last five years.  But the perma Bulls just scoff and preach about P/E's and all this other glorious stuff surrounding the Bull markets.  This economy is in decline and is compressing and wages for many are deflating.  And we are supposed to buy into all this hype?  If things were so grand why would the FED be debting into oblivion?  Common sense makes it all seem so simple.
Yep what do you expect with criminals running the show???

US selling guns and ammo to mexican drug lords.

US giving away billions in loans to solar companies knowing they would fold after getting the loot

US and meat industry in a deal around the meat companies hiring illegal aliens not paying them for months and telling the illegal aliens to get US welfare and food stamps to live on , then when the illegals get really upset for not being paid -- ICE comes in and rounds them up and deports them.

US defense is paying only 2.5 percent of it's budget on the army where is the rest going?? F-22 and F-35 jets are costing more than $300 million a plane now for planes that should cost $20 million and they can not fight as well as the $16 million a planes they are replacing.

need I go on?? The corruption is everywhere. That is why your tax dollars are not enough. The criminals are running the government and stealing all the money.

Mar 12, 2014 10:51AM
WHAT bubble? Isn't it the "norm" now for the Fed to keep bailing the FALSE Elite? Come on... the Former Fry Cooks of America Now Wall Streeters Club can't live without QE. 
Name ONE technology company that created a vehicle for non-tech people. The answer- E-Bay. It created a venue for private small enterprise. After that-- we got TRAIN WRECK. 
Yesterday here on MSN... articles warning parents to quit living on Facebook and their i-Phone or it will destroy their relationship and family. We have to TELL people that? Really?

Mar 12, 2014 12:16PM
There's definitely a bubble in mobile devices, social networks and web advertising.
Mar 12, 2014 12:17PM
More rubbish. I'd like to see these wizards short Tesla!

Yuk yuk!
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