Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What We're Reading ~ 7/25/12

On hedge fund managers and publicity [Reformed Broker]

Dark pools and broken markets [Abnormal Returns]

Are investors just waiting for QE3? [Pragmatic Capitalism]

Profile of Seth Klarman, the oracle of Boston [Economist]

First year analyst dress codes [FINS]

Can John Paulson bounce back? [Pensions & Investments]

Why your brain is killing your portfolio [WSJ]

Is Johnson & Johnson cheap enough? [ValuePlays]

The book Hedge Fund Market Wizards: 19 notable quotes [Ivanoff] 

What were the 10 best & worst times to invest in equities [World Beta]

JANA shifts co-founder to advisory role [AR+Alpha]

Ackman's protege leaves to start fund [BusinessWeek]

Earnings surprises, price reaction & value [Aswath Damodaran]

Focusing on emerging hedge fund managers [FINalternatives]

Decline of Google (and the internet's) ad business [AtlanticWire]

Dan Loeb Adds to Yahoo! Stake

Dan Loeb's Third Point LLC filed a Form 4 with the SEC late yesterday indicating they'd increased their stake by 2.5 million shares.  Third Point bought 1.696 million shares at a weighted average price of $15.82 on July 20th and 804,000 shares at a weighted average of $15.67 on July 23rd.

After these purchases, Third Point now owns 73 million shares of YHOO.  Yahoo just recently named top Google executive Marissa Mayer as its new CEO in a move largely applauded by investors.  As we detailed in Third Point's latest exposure report, YHOO is their top holding.

And back in May, YHOO also made Goldman Sachs' VIP list of most important stocks to hedge funds.  While Loeb's activist campaign is moving along nicely, the core Yahoo business still faces one obstacle: getting more people to come back and use their services daily like most people use Google.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Corsair Capital's Investment Thesis on DigitalGlobe: Q2 Letter

Jay Petschek and Steve Major's Corsair Capital is out with its Q2 2012 investor letter.  In it, they outline their investment thesis on a core position: DigitalGlobe (DGI).  Additionally, they provide updates on Six Flags (SIX), Innophos (IPHS), Aperam (APAM), and TNS (TNS).

Corsair's DigitalGlobe Thesis

Note: the below was written before the announcement that Digital Globe would be merging with GeoEye (GEOY).  Under the terms, GeoEye shareholders will elect either 1.137 shares of DigitalGlobe and $4.10 per share in cash, or 100% of the consideration in cash ($20.27), or 100% of the consideration in stock (1.425 shares of DGI for each share of GEOY owned).  The transaction marks a 34% premium to to GEOY's previous closing price.

For those interested, here's Corsair's original DGI thesis:

One of the hedge fund's core positions is US satellite imaging company, DigitalGlobe (DGI), which provides real-time and archived images from 3 satellites.  DGI co-developed Google Earth as well as Apple's new Maps product.  The company received a takeover offer from competitor GeoEye (GEOY) for $17 per share but DGI rejected it.

Corsair sees strong leadership and expects the company to create value via dividends, share repurchases and "disciplined M&A."  The government effectively represents 50% of their revenue, so that is certainly a risk and is why the stock sold off so hard in February (government spending cuts).  Corsair's view was that the stock already reflected a worst-case scenario and 2012 is a transformational year.  You can read their full case in the letter below. 

Unrelated, but also worth highlighting from the letter: they cite Jim Grant of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, pointing out a potential contrarian signal for equities, noting that "this is the first time in 12 years that pension managers are putting more money into fixed income securities than equities, whereas, just a few years ago they were putting twice as much into equities than in bonds."

Embedded below is Corsair Capital's full Q2 letter:

For more on this hedge fund, head to Corsair's thesis on SunCoke Energy.

Ken Griffin's Citadel Reveals New Marriott Vacations Position

Ken Griffin's Citadel has started a brand new stake in Marriott Vacations (VAC).  Due to a 13G just filed with the SEC, Citadel has revealed a 5% ownership stake in VAC with 1,714,349 shares. 

The filing was made due to portfolio activity on July 18th.  We highlighted back in March how Steve Cohen's SAC Capital was buying VAC.  However, since they move in and out of positions faster than most of the other funds we track, it's hard to say if they still own a stake (and we won't know until mid-August when the latest 13F disclosures are released).  But for now, Citadel has started a new stake in the name.

Per Google Finance, Marriott Vacations is the worldwide developer, marketer, seller and manager of vacation ownership and related products under the Marriott Vacation Club and Grand Residences by Marriott brands. The Company is also the global developer, marketer and seller of vacation ownership and related products under the Ritz-Carlton Destination Club brand, and it has the right to develop, market and sell whole ownership residential products under the Ritz-Carlton Residences brand."

David Einhorn Sells Best Buy & Dell, Buys Cigna & Coventry Health: Q2 Letter

David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital is out with their Q2 2012 investor letter and Dealbreaker has it posted.  In it, they reveal that they no longer own Best Buy (BBY) or Dell (DELL).  Additionally, they started new stakes in Cigna (CI) and Coventry Health Care (CVH), playing the managed care sector.  Here are some excerpts from the letter:

On Best Buy:  "We thought that the core debate was whether or  not the company could compete with Amazon.  The answer at this point is that maybe it can and maybe it can’t.  (Despite the consensus view, our store surveys have repeatedly shown  that there is no price benefit for consumers to browse at BBY and then purchase at Amazon.)   There has been some deterioration in BBY’s domestic performance, which we attribute to a  lack of a “must have” consumer electronics  product, rather than  an erosion of BBY’s  competitive position.  While we held the shares, three unexpected problems emerged:  First,  BBY depleted $1.3 billion of its cash resources by paying a double-digit multiple for  Carphone Warehouse’s share of the Best Buy Mobile profit stream.  The market promptly revalued those earnings to BBY’s mid-single digit multiple.  Second, in the most recent quarter,  BBY’s international profits collapsed.  In particular, comparable sales in its Chinese business  fell 28% as the Chinese economy appears to have hit a wall.  Finally, the company dismissed  its CEO over his personal conduct, and also removed the Chairman for failing to respond  properly to the CEO’s misbehavior.  As a result, the company has an interim CEO and is  trying to come up with a strategy.  We worried  that this could lead to additional business  disruption so we exited with a loss."

On Dell:  "We had thought that the growth in the non-PC business would be enough to
offset the deterioration in the PC business.  The non-PC growth was smaller than we’d hoped
and the PC deterioration was worse than we’d anticipated.  While DELL has a good balance
sheet, it appears likely that management will try to use much of the cash to try to buy its way
into better businesses.  At a minimum, this will erode some of the value cushion that the cash
balance creates."

On Cigna:  "CI is a managed care company with three primary divisions:  Cigna HealthCare, Cigna Group  Disability and Life, and Cigna International.  Cigna HealthCare, which comprises about 70%  of CI’s profits, offers medium and large companies traditional risk-based insurance, in  addition to administering plans for those that prefer to self-insure.  Cigna HealthCare recently  bought HealthSpring to enter the fast-growing Medicare Advantage market.  Cigna Group  Disability and Life is a low-growth, stable  business. Cigna International, which provides  insurance policies for individuals, as well as insurance and administrative services for multinational companies and governments, is growing at more than 20% per year.  We believe that  CI deserves a higher multiple because the plan administration business is a service business  that doesn’t take risk, and the other divisions do not warrant discounted values.  Our purchase  price of $45.42 per share valued CI at less than 8x estimated 2012 EPS and approximately 6x  our forecast of post Obamacare 2014 EPS.  CI shares closed the quarter at $44.00 each."  Note: CI has since fallen further and you can currently buy it at cheaper prices than Greenlight.

On Coventry:  "CVH is a regional managed care company with operations in the mid-Atlantic, Midwest and  parts of the South.  The company offers commercial risk-based insurance and has an  expanding business in the government-sponsored Medicaid and Medicare programs.   Problems with a recently-acquired three-year contract to provide managed care services to the  Medicaid population in Kentucky caused the company to  significantly reduce earnings  guidance for 2012.  This led to a large drop in the stock price.  We believe the issues related  to the Kentucky contract are manageable and finite, and CVH will return to breakeven or a  profit on this contract in 2013 from a loss this year.  Our average purchase price of $31.22  represents 8x our forecast  for 2014 earnings net of $6 per share of cash and reflects our  estimate of the negative impact of Obamacare.  CVH closed the quarter at $31.79 per share."

We've also recently highlighted some of Einhorn's thoughts on Apple, Green Mountain and Amazon.

Einhorn's top five largest long positions at the end of the quarter (in alphabetical position) were: Apple (AAPL), General Motors (GM), gold, Marvell Technology (MRVL), and Seagate Technology (STX).  We highlighted how Greenlight was adding to their STX position last month.

Instead of waiting for a copy of the letter, we'll send you over to Dealbreaker who already has it posted here.