Kyle Bass on SuperMedia Debt & Japan ~ market folly

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kyle Bass on SuperMedia Debt & Japan

We're posting up notes from the Great Investors' Best Ideas Investment Symposium in Dallas and next up is Kyle Bass from Hayman Capital.

Bass mentioned that 90% of what he owns is in bonds (he has a ton of RMBS/subprime exposure).  He joked that he's constantly a contrarian since many other speakers at the event expressed disdain for bonds (though to be fair, the others were negative on treasuries, not RMBS).  He presented two ideas:

SuperMedia Debt

Before presenting his ideas, Bass noted that he pulled an 'audible' so this idea wasn't as in-depth.  Bass points out that bankruptcy wiped out billions for the company and that the debt trades at 66 cents while equity has fallen into obscurity.  He notes it's paying a 20% coupon and he thinks it's worth par in 2-3 years.  He also pointed out how SuperMedia is trying to merge with fellow competitor DexOne.

Bass: Don't Own Japan

Bass said that there's 80-200 trillion in global debt. In 18 months Japan will structurally fall apart.  "There's no chance at Japan repaying their debt."

He says psychology is important so look at anchoring bias.  It's important to think about how others think about debt.  Japan's debt to GDP is the worst in the world.  Their debt is 25x their revenues.  (David Einhorn was checking out Bass' slideshow).

Bass said there's 3 axioms that are actually false:

1. Positive current surplus, Japan not self-funding:  This is flat false he says.

2. Bank of Japan not monetizing the debt: Bass says they're already buying 2/3rds of the bonds today.

3. Retail investors will always support JGB's: Bass says Japan has a secular population decline.

We highlighted how in the past Bass has said that Japan would be selling more adult diapers than kids' ones and that's now the case.  He also pointed out how the country is having "adult diaper fashion shows."

He also illustrated how Japan is trying to sell JGB's by showing advertisements of a schoolgirl band selling them and sumo wrestlers pitching JGBs.

Touching on the Softbank/Sprint deal since it was mentioned earlier in the panel by Lee Cooperman, Bass noted that Softbank paying 20 billion yen to buy broken telecom is Softbank exporting yen as investors are starting to flee the currency.

Bass says that Japan has one of the "largest structural fiscal deficits in the world."  He doesn't know when exactly this collapse happens as this could go on for a few years?  He notes the timing on this sort of thing is very hard to peg, but it will "absolutely happen."

He wrapped up talking about playing options on this scenario because if it happens, you get paid a ton.  But in the mean time while you wait for it to happen, you only lose a little (we assume he's referring to price put options on Japanese JGBs, a trade he's talked about in the past).  For more on this manager, we've also recently posted up Bass on Europe and how he's investing.

For the rest of the presentations, head to notes from the Great Investors' Best Ideas conference.

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