TheStreetMONSTER Conference Roundup

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Tech, housing, market volatility and quantitative easing were high on the agenda at TheStreetMONSTER investment conference last weekend.

The event, which was hosted by Jill Malandrino, product development manager of TheStreet's Option Profits, took place on Friday and Saturday at the Hilton hotel in midtown Manhattan.

On Saturday Jim Cramer discussed the Federal Reserve and quantitative easing during his keynote, and also described his appetite for "retro tech" stocks such as Micron ( MU), HP ( HPQ ), Seagate Techology ( STX ), Western Digital ( WDC), AMD ( AMD) and Intel ( INTC).

Specifically, TheStreet founder and host of CNBC's Mad Money pointed to the turnaround work being done by HP CEO Meg Whitman: "I was blown away by the transformation of the balance sheet," he said.

In the second half of the year, investors are going to want higher-growth stocks, according to Cramer, citing names like Micron and HP, which have seen multiple downgrades recently. However, Cramer noted these names could be the big winners for the second-quarter, especially in an environment where macro economics is the topic du jour.

Cramer also likes pharmaceutical stocks Gilead ( GILD), Celgene ( CELG) and Regeneron ( REGN) "You can't beat these guys, you have got to join them," he said. "Celgene remains one of the cheapest of all drug companies."

Later on Saturday, Stephanie Link, co-portfolio manager of Action Alerts Plus, said that she "likes the U.S. market," noting that the Fed has been largely responsible for the growth the country is seeing.

Link pointed out that bank lending and housing are on the rebound and cited continued consumer resiliency, as evidenced by healthy auto and retail sales. Companies continue to do more with less, and margins are not coming down, as the bears have thought. "That leads to better growth, and better corporate profits," she said during her presentation. "If you can get a little bit better earnings, you could see a higher stock market."

She also mentioned Procter & Gamble ( PG) and Phillip Morris International ( PM) as defensive names that are worth watching, as consumer staples have pulled back in recent days.

Housing is still in the early innings, Link said. Permits are up 26% year over year, and inventories are at 10-year lows. Some 48 states saw price increases in the month of May, something that bodes well for the housing market in the future. If rates continue to rise in a gradual, controlled way, that's okay, she added. Housing is a huge component of GDP, currently at 5%, but its derivatives account for nearly 17% of GDP.

A stellar lineup of speakers took part in the event, discussing a host of topics. Jeff Macke, host of the Breakout program on Yahoo! Finance, cited Twitter as a useful investor tool. "Twitter is the new newswire," he said. Macke also suggested that the popular micro-blogging site "should be purchased by someone that can afford to leave it alone."

Tech was a major theme throughout the two-day event, with Colin Gillis, senior technology analyst at BGC Financial telling attendees that "There's still a ton of money left in TV advertising," creating a massive opportunity for Google's ( GOOG) YouTube business.

Other speakers, such as Peter Costa, president of Empire Executions, and Jon 'Dr.J' Najarian, co-founder of optionMONSTER discussed market volatility and how investors can benefit from it.

Najarian talked about trading strategies relating to volatility, giving an example of an Apple straddle with different volatility levels. "Volatility is an important indicator in the market, not only for the market itself, but how much that option will move," Najarian said, during his presentation.

Traders need to ride the wave of volatility, Najarian added, not fight against it. Volatility has proven over time that trading options is not a losers' game, averaging an annualized return of 9.8% on buy-write calls over the past 20 years, he said, compared to a return of around 7% on the S&P 500.

Najarian, along with his brother and fellow optionMONSTER co-founder, Pete, told trading "war stories" during a panel late on Saturday, which also included Michael Khouw, managing director at DASH Financial and Joseph Burgoyne, director of institutional and retail education for The Options Industry Council.

On Friday, a number of presenters, including Stock Market Mentor Founder Dan Fitzpatrick and Mark Sebastian, COO and director of education at Option Pit Mentoring, taught the attendees about technical analysis, options trading, and using volatility as an asset, instead of a detriment.

Chris McKhann and Ron Ianeri, analysts at optionMONSTER, discussed methods for trading the VIX (the Chicago Board Options Exchange Market Volatility Index) and crash-proofing your portfolio during Friday's sessions.

Fitzpatrick talked about the basics of options, including what the "Greeks" mean, and how they can help, or hurt, an options trader's strategies. John Carter, founding partner of, reminded conference goers that there is one thing that is more important than making money -- that's limiting losses. You must not be afraid to get out of a trade that is not working, he said, urging investors to be disciplined.

-- Written by James Rogers, Chris Ciaccia, and Lindsey Bell in New York.

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