Monday, October 21, 2019

New Howard Marks Letter on Negative Interest Rates: "Mysterious"

Oaktree Capital's chairman Howard Marks is out with his latest memo.  It is entitled "Mysterious" and deals with the topic of negative interest rates.

He writes, "The fact that we know what they are–as we do with inflation and deflation – doesn’t alter the fact that we don’t know for sure why negative rates are prevalent today, how long they’ll continue in force, what might cause them to turn positive, what their consequences are, or whether they’ll reach the U.S."

The rest of his letter follows.  Embedded below is Howard Marks' latest letter:

You can download a .pdf copy here.

For more from this manager be sure to check out his books Mastering the Market Cycle as well as The Most Important Thing.

Corvex Management Goes Activist on ForeScout Technologies

Keith Meister's hedge fund firm Corvex Management has filed a 13D with the SEC regarding shares of ForeScout Technologies (FSCT).  Per the filing, Corvex now owns 7.2% of ForeScout with over 3.34 million shares.  However, the 13D is being filed jointly with Jericho Capital Asset Management which also owns shares, bringing their collective exposure to 14.5% of the company with over 6.68 million shares.

The filing shows Corvex as buying throughout September and October initially at prices around $35.xx but really ramped up their buying when shares traded down to $25.xx.

The 13D also contains information about their new activist stance: "After the close of business on October 18, 2019, the Corvex Persons agreed with the Jericho Persons to work together to engage with the Issuer and its management regarding its business and prospects. The Corvex Persons and the Jericho Persons believe that combining their complementary expertise, skill sets and perspectives will be beneficial in discussions with the Issuer. The Corvex Persons and the Jericho Persons anticipate having private discussions with the Issuer as soon as practicable."

Per Yahoo Finance, ForeScout Technologies "provides network security products in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Asia Pacific, and Japan. It offers CounterACT that provides for visibility and control capabilities across campus information technology and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, operational technology devices, data center physical and virtual devices, and cloud virtual devices; and SilentDefense, which offers visibility and control capabilities within the operational technology portion of the network."

Glenview Capital Files 13D on Meritor

Larry Robbins' hedge fund firm Glenview Capital has filed a 13D with the SEC on shares of Meritor (MTOR).  Per the filing, Glenview now owns 14.7% of the company with exposure to over 12.1 million shares.  This is inclusive of 4.9 million shares underlying call options.

This is up from the previous 7.2 million shares Glenview had exposure to at the end of the second quarter, per their most recent 13F filing.  So basically Glenview has added call option exposure and then gone activist on the name.

The filing also includes the standard activist investor boilerplate: "The Reporting Persons intend to engage in discussions with the Company and the Company’s management and board of directors, other shareholders of the Company and other interested parties on issues that may relate to the business, management, operations, assets, capitalization, financial condition, strategic plans, governance, board composition and the future of the Company.  Glenview Capital Management has entered into a customary confidentiality agreement with the Company in order to facilitate these discussions."

Per Yahoo Finance, Meritor "designs, develops, manufactures, markets, distributes, sells, services, and supports integrated systems, modules, and components to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and the aftermarket for the commercial vehicle, transportation, and industrial sectors. It operates through two segments, Commercial Truck; and Aftermarket, Industrial and Trailer."

Mantle Ridge Files Form 4 on CSX

Paul Hilal's investment firm Mantle Ridge LP has filed a Form 4 with the SEC regarding its stake in CSX (CSX).  Per the filing, Mantle Ridge sold 3.45 million shares on October 17th at $67.91.  The filing notes this was "in order to repay Mantle Ridge Fund obligations under a secured credit facility. The Reporting Persons have no current plans to sell any additional shares of the Issuer, although they reserve the right to do so in their discretion."

The Form 4 also shows Mantle Ridge made pro rata distributions of over 34.49 million shares to direct and indirect owners of the Mantle Ridge funds.  Also, 36,813 shares were contributed to certain charitable organizations.

Prior to founding Mantle Ridge, Hilal worked at Pershing Square and runs a similar activist strategy, though more concentrated.