Monday, December 23, 2013

Starboard Value Goes Activist on Darden Restaurants (DRI) Too

Another activist has joined the Darden Restaurants (DRI) fight.  Jeffrey Smith's Starboard Value LP has disclosed a 5.55% stake in DRI with 7,250,000 shares via an activist 13D filing.

Last week, we highlighted Barington Capital's presentation on Darden Restaurants (DRI) where they called for the company to split up.  The company responded by announcing plans to spin off its Red Lobster chain. Now another activist is on the scene.

This is a brand new investment for Starboard.  They've engaged management in discussions and feel the announced plan doesn't maximize shareholder value.  Smith's 13D says,

"Specifically, Starboard believes there is a significant opportunity to dramatically improve the operating performance at the Issuer, as well as opportunities to realize substantial value from the Issuer’s real estate holdings and to explore other strategic options available to the Issuer to maximize shareholder value, including alternative business sale or separation transactions."

The company operates restaurants such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Yard House, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, and Eddie V's Prime Seafood.

For more on Starboard, see Jeff Smith's presentation on Wausau Paper.

Blue Ridge Capital Starts PBF Energy Stake

John Griffin's hedge fund firm Blue Ridge Capital filed a 13G with the SEC on shares of PBF Energy (PBF).  Per the filing, the hedge fund now shows a 7.82% ownership stake in the company with 3,095,000 shares.

This is a brand new position for Blue Ridge as they did not own a stake as of the end of the third quarter.  The filing was required due to portfolio activity on December 10th.

Per Google Finance, PBF Energy is "an independent petroleum refiners and suppliers of unbranded transportation fuels, heating oils, petrochemical feedstocks, lubricants and other petroleum products in the United States. The Company produces a range of products at each of its refineries, including gasoline, ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD), heating oil, jet fuel, lubricants, petrochemicals and asphalt. The Company sells its products throughout the Northeast and Midwest of the United States, as well as in other regions of the United States and Canada, and are able to ship products to other international destinations."

You can view additional recent portfolio activity from Blue Ridge here.

Perry Capital Trims North American Energy Partners Position Again

Richard Perry's hedge fund firm Perry Capital has filed an amended 13D with the SEC regarding its position in North American Energy Partners (NOA).  Per the filing, Perry has disclosed a 4.75% ownership stake in NOA with 1,726,968 shares.

This marks around a 62% reduction in their position size as they've sold over 2.8 million shares since the end of the third quarter.  The filing indicates they sold shares at a price of $6 per share on December 19th.

This is also the second time they've trimmed their stake, as we highlighted Perry's NOA sales back in late October.

Per Google Finance, North American Energy Partners "provides a range of heavy construction and mining and pipeline installation services to customers in the Canadian oil sands, industrial construction, commercial and public construction and pipeline construction markets. The Company’s primary market is the Canadian oil sands, where it supports the customers’ mining operations and capital projects. NAEPI provides services through all stages of an oil sands project’s lifecycle, its core focus is on providing recurring services, such as contract mining, during the operational phase."

Friday, December 20, 2013

What We're Reading ~ Hedge Fund Links 12/20/13

Are commercial mortgages the next big thing for hedge funds? [CNBC]

Hedge funds cut fees to win big investors [FT]

Jim Chanos, bad news bear, urges market prudence [Reuters]

Many hedge funds launching traditional long-only strategies [TheAsset]

Managed accounts take the hassle out of hedge funds [Financial Standard]

Bill Miller to start fund with son under family name [Bloomberg]

Glenview Capital Adds to EVERTEC & Tenet Healthcare Stakes

Larry Robbins' hedge fund Glenview Capital filed a 13G and a Form 4 with the SEC disclosing some of their latest portfolio activity.

Glenview Adds to EVERTEC

Their 13G reveals activity in shares of EVERTEC (EVTC).  Per the filing, Glenview now owns 5.64% of the company with over 4.4 million shares.

This means they've doubled their stake since the end of the third quarter, when they initially built their position.  EVTC IPO'd in Q2 of this year.

Glenview's filing was required due to portfolio activity on December 9th.

Apollo has been the largest institutional shareholder, but one of its affiliates recently announced it would be selling 15.2 million shares in a secondary.  Other hedge funds are involved such as Corvex Management, Marble Arch Investments, and Pine River Capital.

Per Google Finance, EVERTEC is "formerly Carib Latam Holdings, Inc., is a full service transaction processing business in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Company provides a range of merchant acquiring, payment processing and business process management services across 19 countries in the region. It processes over 1.8 billion transactions annually, and manages the electronic payment network for over 4,100 automated teller machines (ATM) and over 104,000 point-of-sale payment terminals. It is the merchant acquirer in the Caribbean and Central America and in Latin America. The Company owns and operates the ATH network, one of ATM and personal identification number debit networks in Latin America. In addition, it provides a suite of services for core bank processing, cash processing and technology outsourcing. It serves a diversified customer base of financial institutions, merchants, corporations and government agencies with technology solutions."

Glenview Buys More Tenet Healthcare

Robbins' fund also filed a Form 4 with the SEC and disclosed purchases in shares of Tenet Healthcare (THC) on December 17th & 18th.  In total, they bought 1 million shares at weighted average prices between $39.30 and $41.20.

After this purchase, they now own 12.9 million shares of THC.  This has been a longstanding (and highly profitable) investment for the hedge fund.

Robbins also recently made a rare media appearance to talk about healthcare and for-profit hospitals.

Marc Lasry Sees Opportunities in Europe: Interview

Yesterday, Avenue Capital's Marc Lasry appeared on CNBC to talk about markets and his latest positioning.

He noted they're still long J.C. Penney bonds and think things will work out as it's essentially a turnaround bet.  We've previously posted Lasry's presentation on JCP bonds.

They see opportunities in Europe due to the deleveraging and are also looking to do direct lending to take advantage.  He said you want to focus on equities in Southern Europe but bonds in Northern Europe.

Embedded below is the video of Marc Lasry's interview:

If you missed it, we also posted up Jamie Dinan's interview as well as Lee Cooperman's interview from the same segment.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Steven Drobny's New House of Money: Interview with Kyle Bass

Steven Drobny, previous author of The Invisible Hands: Hedge Funds Off the Record as well as Inside the House of Money, is coming out with a new book.  His new title, The New House of Money, continues his ongoing series of interviews with top hedge fund managers.

He'll be releasing a new chapter each month and the first chapter features Kyle Bass of Hayman Capital.  We've embedded the chapter below and you can access it at their website:

Be sure to check out Drobny's other great books as well interviewing notable hedge fund managers:

- The Invisible Hands: Hedge Funds Off the Record

- Inside the House of Money

Jamie Dinan Likes Airlines, Hertz & Sprint/T-Mobile: Interview

York Capital's James Dinan appeared on CNBC today and talked about his latest market views.

He said they own most of the major airlines and notes these companies are now being run like businesses and can make money even at $95 oil.

He specifically mentioned American Airlines (AAL) and thinks there's great optionality here as they've merged with US Air and will have a great management team.  While some of these mergers can be rocky at the start, he thinks the value will be realized.  This has been a big hedge fund trade as of late with the likes of David Tepper and Julian Robertson also being involved in many of these names.

Dinan's biggest position is Hertz (HTZ) and he says it's a consolidation play as they'll see cost savings and revenue synergies from the Dollar Thrifty merger as well as fleet rationalization.  A few quarters ago, our Hedge Fund Wisdom newsletter flagged this popular trade and posted a write-up on Avis Budget (CAR), another beneficiary of the consolidation.

York thinks that this environment is great for event-driven investing, especially due to low interest rates.  Dinan also sees earnings going up next year and thinks companies will continue to do buybacks.  He also said he likes Sprint (S) and T-Mobile (TMUS).

Here are the videos of Dinan's appearance:

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Lee Cooperman Likes SunEdison & Sandridge, Sees Market as Fairly Valued

Lee Cooperman, founder of Omega Advisors, appeared on CNBC today to talk about some of his favorite positions and market thoughts.

He continues to feel the market is fairly valued, around 16x earnings.  He pointed out that bull markets end from excesses.  That said, he also notes that investors are "underinvested" in equities, mainly due to fallout from the beatdown they received in 2008 as they've been reticent to get back in stocks.  He thinks the S&P will trade in a range of 1,600 to 2,000.

Some of his favorite picks include SandRidge Energy (SD), Sprint (S), Monitise (MONI.L), Qualicorp.  A new name for them is Sunedison (SUNE), a solar energy play that's spinning off its money-losing semiconductor business.  Cooperman feels it can see $20.  He also thinks SD has the potential to double and points out that TPG-Axon has been involved in this one pushing for change.

Lee Cooperman Video 1:

Lee Cooperman Video 2:

We've highlighted some other portfolio activity from Cooperman here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What We're Reading ~ Analytical Links 12/18/13

Six investment errors you are making right now [Bloomberg]

Barclay's 2014 stock picks in each sector [StreetInsider]

Lakewood Capital on Opko Health: the placebo effect [Seeking Alpha]

Samsung: uneasy in the lead [NYTimes]

Underdog against Amazon, Best Buy charges ahead [NYTimes]

BlackRock 2014 outlook [BlackRock]

Want to invest like Buffett?  Here's how [Marketwatch]

A look at the Anadarko / Tronox situation [Distressed Debt Investing]

8 money managers share their top picks for next year [Bloomberg]

Sell Icahn Enterprises [Barrons]

They hate the Fed [Roger Lowenstein]

How to use the media to sell a company [Buzzfeed]

50 unfortunate truths about investing [Business Insider]

Where to find the biggest ideas for your business [Forbes]

The habits of the world's smartest people [Entrepreneur]

Why a for-profit college set up a man with a fake job (on purpose) [Huffington Post]

A video explaining Bitcoin [AVC]

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New York Times Business Best Sellers List

As 2013 draws to a close, we wanted to check in on and highlight The New York Times list of business best sellers this year.  While many investors focus on investment books (and rightly so), business books can also help you refine your approach in how you think about businesses.  Numbers 2, 5, 8, and 9 in particular will benefit investors.

New York Times Business Best Sellers List

1. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg with Nell Scovell.  One of the top sellers for quite some time.  "The chief operating officer of Facebook urges women to pursue their careers without ambivalence."

2. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  This has been read by many in the investment community.  "Why some people succeed - it has to do with luck and opportunities as well as talent."

3.  Extortion by Peter Schweizer. "A Hoover Institution fellow argues that politicians shape legislation in order to extract donations." 

4. The Everything Store by Brad Stone. "The story of Jeff Bezos and Amazon." 

5. Focus by Daniel Goleman. "The author of “Emotional Intelligence” relies on research on attention to argue that high achievement requires three kinds of focus." 

6. Hundred Percenters by Mark Murphy. "Challenging employees to perform at their highest level."

7. Do You Speak Shoe Lover? by Linda Meadow and Kelly Cook. "Stories from customers and employees of the shoe retailer DSW."

8. The Caterpillar Way by Craig T. Bouchard and James V. Koch. "A biography of Caterpillar Inc. as a tale of successful business management."

9. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Another widely read book in investment circles.  "The winner of the Nobel in economic science discusses how we make choices in business and personal life." 

10. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. After reading this book, hedge fund legend Julian Robertson decided to sell his Apple shares.  "A biography of the entrepreneur, based on 40 interviews with him conducted over two years."

And if you want more investment-specific reading, head to our recommended reading lists.

Corvex Management & Soroban Capital Go Activist on Williams Companies (WMB)

Keith Meister's activist hedge fund Corvex Management and Eric Mandelblatt's Soroban Capital Partners have entered into an agreement and jointly filed a 13D on shares of Williams Companies (WMB). 

Per the filing, they've disclosed a 5.28% stake in WMB with Corvex owning 13.6 million shares and another 5 million shares underlying call options. Soroban has revealed ownership of 17.4 million shares.

This excludes cash-settled swaps and options which represent an additional 24,213,599 shares.  If these were aggregated together, Corvex and Soroban would have an aggregate economic interest of 8.82% of the company with over 60.3 million shares.

It looks like Corvex was buying call options and selling puts in Late October and throughout November while Soroban was buying shares in late October.

Activist Investment Thesis

The hedge funds have met with management and the Board to discuss the company's operations, finances, strategy and governance.  The filing indicates,

"(Williams) has a strong competitive position in an attractive industry with tremendous growth opportunities but recent operational and financial missteps have prevented the Issuer’s Shares from reflecting full value. The Reporting Persons intend to discuss the following with one or more of the persons referenced above (among other topics): enhancing the structure and value of the Issuer’s investments and assets; evaluating and financing of capital projects; optimizing the Issuer’s capital structure and dividend policy; improving the Issuer’s operational and financial execution; and the potential for participating in strategic combinations given the rapid pace of consolidation in the midstream energy industry."

Meister and Mandelblatt are also looking to join the Board.

See other recent activity from Corvex here.

Joho Capital Discloses (WUBA) Stake

Robert Karr's hedge fund firm Joho Capital has filed a 13G with the SEC and disclosed a new position in (WUBA).  Per the filing, Joho owns 7.7% of the company with 920,000 shares.

The 13G was just filed but indicates the disclosure was made due to activity way back on October 31st.

Joho isn't the only major hedge fund to own WUBA shares, as we previously detailed that John Burbank's Passport Capital owns as well.  Chinese internet companies in general have been a big theme for Burbank and he notes that China is determined not to lose to the US there.

Per Google Finance, "Beijing 58 Information and Technology Co., Ltd. owns and operates an on-line classified advertisement services Web Site under the name The Web Site helps individuals and SMEs to broadcast and search information relating to job opportunities, housing, dating, community events, services, and trading of second hand products. Beijing 58 Information and Technology Co., Ltd. was founded in 2005 and is based in Beijing, China."

You can view other recent portfolio activity from Joho Capital here.

Barington Capital's Presentation on Darden: Perspectives on Value Creation

Below is Barington Capital Group's presentation on shares of Darden (DRI).  Their slideshow, entitled "Perspectives on Value Creation" highlights the company's underperformance and their thoughts on how DRI can create two focused restaurant companies, unlock their real estate asset value, and reduce operating expenses.

Embedded below is the .pdf of the presentation:

Friday, December 13, 2013

What We're Reading ~ Hedge Fund Links 12/13/13

Hedge fund managers optimistic about markets but concerned about tapering [P&I]

John Burbank's investment alchemy [Institutional Investor]

Pennant Capital returns some money to investors [II Alpha]

LibreMax launching student loan fund [FINalternatives]

Hedge fund managers seek to set themselves apart through branding [P&I]

Odey short Manchester United [Dealbook]

Coatue invests $50 million in Snapchat [FINalternatives]

3 big hedge fund predictions for 2014 [CNBC]

Hedgies trail stocks by the widest margin since 2005 [Bloomberg]

The hedge fund problem - and the solution [Bloomberg]

Corvex Management Exercises Calls on Fidelity National Financial, Applauds Management's Moves

Keith Meister's hedge fund firm Corvex Management filed an amended 13D with the SEC regarding its activist position in Fidelity National Financial (FNF).  Per the filing, Corvex now owns 7.3% of the company with over 18.2 million shares.

They exercised calls on December 10th and acquired 15,451,900 shares in aggregate. 

The filing also indicates that Corvex continues to engage with management:

"The Reporting Persons applaud the Issuer’s decision to explore strategic alternatives with regards to its non-core assets in order to unlock value not reflected in the current share price.  In addition, the Reporting Persons are pleased with the Issuer’s decision to focus capital allocation going forward towards the new core business and away from non-core businesses.  The Reporting Persons look forward to a continued, constructive dialogue with the Board and Management of the Issuer."

You can view the details of Corvex's initial position here.

Trian Discloses Allegion Stake, Spin Off From Ingersoll-Rand

Nelson Peltz's activist investment firm Trian Fund has disclosed a new stake in Allegion (ALLE) via a 13G filed with the SEC.  Per the filing, Trian now owns 5.9% of the company with over 5.7 million shares.

Allegion is a spinoff of securities businesses from Ingersoll-Rand (IR) and shares started trading at the beginning of December.  Shareholders of IR stock received 1 ALLE share per every 3 IR shares owned.

As of November, Trian owned also over 18.7 million shares of IR.

For more on this investor, head to Nelson Peltz's presentation at Invest For Kids Chicago.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pennant Capital Discloses BFC Financial Position

Alan Fournier's hedge fund firm Pennant Capital has filed a 13G with the SEC regarding shares of BFC Financial Corp (BFCF).  Per the filing, Pennant now owns 3.94% of the company with 2,985,600 shares. 

This is the first time they've disclosed a position in this security.  The filing was required due to portfolio activity on December 4th.

Pennant also recently has decided to return some investor capital.  They join the likes of Baupost Group and Appaloosa Management (where Fournier previously worked) in the ranks of hedge funds that have sent capital back to investors.

Per Google Finance, BFC Financial is "a holding company whose principal holdings include controlling interests in Bluegreen Corporation and BBX Capital Corporation. The Company’s objective is to create long-term value for its shareholders through profitable growth of its portfolio companies and appreciation in the value of its investments. The Company has invested in or acquired businesses in a variety of industries. BBX Capital Corporation is a diversified investment and asset management company. In April 2013, Bluegreen Corporation completes merger with subsidiary of the Company, Woodbridge Holdings, LLC (Woodbridge)."

You can see some of Pennant's other recent trades here.

Blue Ridge Capital Discloses Zulily Stake

John Griffin's hedge fund Blue Ridge Capital recently filed a 13G with the SEC and disclosed a new stake in Zulily (ZU).  Per the filing, Blue Ridge now owns 6.05% of the company with 799,811 shares.

The company recently completed its initial public offering (IPO) on November 14th.  It priced at $22 per share, above the expected range, and now trades around $38.

Per Google Finance, Zulily is "an e-commerce company. The Company, through its desktop and mobile Websites and mobile applications, which it refers to as its sites, helps its customers discover new and unique products. The Company provides moms with a selection of over 4,500 product styles offered on a typical day through various flash sales events, which are limited-time curated online sales of selected products launched each day on its sites. The Company offers merchandise primarily targeted at moms purchasing for their children, themselves and their homes. Its merchandise includes children’s apparel, women’s apparel, and other product categories, such as toys, infant gear, kitchen accessories and home decor The Company sources its merchandise from thousands of vendors, including emerging brands and smaller boutique vendors, as well as larger national brands.The Company offers merchandise primarily targeted at moms purchasing for their children, themselves and their homes."

We've posted additional recent portfolio activity from Blue Ridge here.

Lee Cooperman Shows Increased Atlas Resource Partners Stake

Lee Cooperman's investment firm Omega Advisors recently filed an amended 13G with the SEC regarding their position in Atlas Resource Partners (ARP).  Per the filing, Cooperman now owns 11.1% of the company with 6,753,919 shares.

This marks an increase of over 1.9 million shares since the end of the third quarter.  The filing was made due to portfolio activity on November 12th.

Per Google Finance, Atlas Resource Partners is "an independent developer and producer of natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids (NGL), with operations in basins across the United States. The Company is a sponsor and manager of investment partnerships, in which it co-invests, to finance a portion of its natural gas and oil production activities."

You can view other activity from Cooperman here.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Kyle Bass Long General Motors, Exits J.C. Penney Equity: Interview

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Hayman Capital's Kyle Bass reveals that he's long General Motors (GM) and has exited his equity stake in J.C. Penney (JCP) but retains his debt position. 

The hedge fund manager also talked about Herbalife (HLF), noting that it generates significant cashflows and no debt.

He originally thought JCP could move higher with a turnaround from new management, but what he got wrong, he said, was the vendors and perception changing so quickly.  He's still long credit but doesn't own equity in the company.

Bass thinks GM can trade 40% higher in the next 18 months.  He says it's a catalytic time to be investing as the Treasury finally exits its stake and the company can initiate shareholder friendly actions.

The Hayman founder also said he didn't see anything interesting in US banks, but he would be betting against European banks, especially as a hedge against other European bets.  Bass mentioned he likes Vodafone (VOD).

Embedded below is Bass' interview with Bloomberg:

For more from this hedgie, head to Kyle Bass' macro debate with John Burbank.

What We're Reading ~ Hedge Fund Links 12/6/13

Hedge fund ideas from the InvestPitch competition [Institutional Investor]

Baupost Group to return $4 billion to investors [II Alpha]

Biggest trends that hedge funds encountered this year? [ValueWalk]

Jim Chanos betting against CGI Group [Newsweek]

Chanos also shorting US coal sector [Reuters]

Passport Capital gains with Asian internet stocks [HedgeWorld]

Study shows women beat men as hedge fund managers [FINalternatives]

Investors pull back from Lampert's fund [Dealbook]

Tepper's Appaloosa to return some investor money [II Alpha]

Hugh Hendry capitulates, turns bullish [Zerohedge]

Short sellers see once in a lifetime opportunity [CNBC]

Short sellers have had a miserable year [WSJ]

Tiger Global invests in Glassdoor [HedgeWorld]

White House rejects Fairholme's Fannie/Freddie plan [FINalternatives]

Hedge funds get 'too cosy' with prime brokers [FT]

Taconic's co-founder to retire [CNBC]

From hedge fund to family office [Forbes]

A second act for a top Wall Street strategist [Dealbook]

Peter Lynch's Interview With Charlie Rose

Legendary investor Peter Lynch (formerly of Fidelity's Magellan Fund) sat down for a rare interview with Charlie Rose.  In it, he talks about philanthropy, what makes good management, and more.

Lynch notes that he's now working with some young analysts but the only investing he's doing now is for himself and for charity. 

He joked that he was a "bottom down" investor.  He likes to invest in the second or third inning of a story, noting that you could have bought Walmart (WMT) ten years after it went public and still done extremely well on that investment.

He identified the three C's in investing: complacency, concern, and capitulation.  He said complacency is the worst one.

On knowing what you're investing in: "If you don't understand it, you're probably gonna do the wrong thing."

On what's different in investing between then and now:  He said there's a lot of computer driven trading, which he says is a waste of time.  But the other main difference is the freedom of information.  He says, "Investing now is much clearer, they (retail investors) know the same things I do."

On advice he'd give to young investors: Invest in a retirement fund and watch the money compound tax free.  For individual stock investing: run a paper portfolio, check back with it and see how it performed and why.

On today's market: "I think the market's fairly priced in what's happening right now ... The stock market's the best place to be for the next 10, 20 years ... the next two years, who knows."

Embedded below is the video of Charlie Rose's interview with Peter Lynch:

For more wisdom from this great investor, be sure to read Peter Lynch's book: One Up On Wall Street as well as our past post on Lynch's principles and golden rules of investing.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What We're Reading ~ Analytical Links 12/4/13

On investment idea velocity [Dasan]

Mapping investor behavior [All About Alpha]

Should AT&T (T) buy Vodafone (VOD)? [FT]

Bullish thesis on Sears (SHLD) starting to show cracks? [Peridot Capitalist]

A write-up on Colfax Corp (CFX) [Brooklyn Investor]

Once cable's king, Malone aims to regain his crown [Dealbook]

Deflation fears stalk eurozone [The Guardian]

Stock funds lure most cash in 13 years as investors chase rally [Investment News]

Short seller: best opportunity in two decades [CNBC]

Treasury seeks an exit from General Motors (GM) by year-end [Dealbook]

Paper on the valuable asset of spectrum [SSRN]

Advice on careers, finance and life from Harvard Business School class of 1963 [HBS1963]

Clear Channel's Bob Pittman on the value of dissent [NYTimes]

Howard Marks' Latest Memo: The Race Is On

Oaktree Capital's Chairman Howard Marks has released his latest memo entitled "The Race Is On."

Marks' latest conclusion is that:

"Over the last 2-3 years, my motto for Oaktree has been consistent: “move forward, but with caution.” If feel the outlook is not so bad, and asset prices are not so high, that it’s time to apply maximum caution (or, as they said in The Godfather, “go to the mattresses”). But by the same token, the outlook is not so good, and asset prices are not so low, that we should be aggressive. That’s the reason for my middling stance.  

Having said that, however, there’s no doubt in my mind that the trend is in the direction of increased risk, and I see no reason to think that trend will be arrested anytime soon. Risk is likely to reach extreme levels someday – it always does – and great caution will be called for. Just not yet.

Here's my conclusion from The Race to the Bottom [Feb. 2007].  I'll let it stand - another case of "ditto."

... there's a race to the bottom going on, reflecting widespread reduction in the level of prudence on the part of investors and capital providers.  No one can prove at this point that those who participate will be punished, or that their long-run performance won't exceed that of the naysayers.  But that is the usual pattern."

Embedded below is Howard Marks' latest memo: "The Race Is On":

You can download a .pdf copy here.

For more from this hedge fund, we've highlighted some of Oaktree's recent portfolio activity.

Odey Disclose Arrow Global Stake

Crispin Odey’s Odey Asset Management has disclosed a new position in London listed Arrow Global (LON: ARW). Arrow made its stock market debut in October, raising £139m.

It looks as if Odey picked up most of their shares in the secondary market due to trading on and before November 26th. Odey hold the equivalent of 4.94% of Arrow’s voting rights. About 35% of the position in nominal terms (not delta) is held via derivatives. The Odey Absolute Return fund managed by James Hanbury is the main holder. 

Per Google Finance – “Arrow Global Limited is a provider of debt purchases and receivables   management solutions. The Company’s portfolio consists of a range of consumer and commercial   credit, including credit card, personal loans, utilities, retail, second liens and telecommunications.   The Company includes the development of its Collections Bureau, which is available for use industry- wide.”

We've covered other recent Odey portfolio activity here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Family Office Training

The Family Offices Group is the largest family office association, and they are offering a few family office training programs that may be of interest.  These programs can help single and multi-family offices professionalize their business, and they can be instructive to those looking to raise capital from family offices, or work with them on a co-investment or club deal investing basis.

Two Family Office Training Programs:

Self-Paced Family Office Training: The Qualified Family Office Professional (QFOP) is an industry-leading family office training and certification program that the Family Offices Group offers, to date over 500 professionals have joined.  To learn more about this program please see

Family Office Workshops: The Family Offices Group offers live training workshops where you can network with single and multi-family offices, build your relationships in the industry, and learn about family office trends, and investment mistakes to avoid.  If you would like to learn more about family office risk management, co-investments, and meet face-to-face with family offices you can register for our next workshop here:

If you want to do more research on the Family Offices Group, and haven't downloaded their free report yet you can join over 30,000 others by downloading this now here:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Glenview's Larry Robbins on Healthcare, For-Profit Hospital Stocks

At the Robin Hood Investors Conference late last week, Glenview Capital's Larry Robbins also made a rare media appearance on CNBC and talked about the Affordable Care Act, his healthcare investments, and other topics.

He articulated that the key focus on more Americans gaining healthcare is who is getting insurance versus how many.  He feels that people who actively use health services are the ones signing up first, which benefits hospitals (and he thinks managed care will have some issues).

On for-profit hospitals versus not-for-profit: "Regardless of what the competitive environment is, they (for-profit)  have fared better in the past and they will in the future."

On why he wanted Health Management Associates (HMA) to merge with Community Health (CYH):  "Consolidation is important, scale is important."

Touching on general market valuation, he noted that his portfolio is trading at lower multiples since that's what they've focused on.  But if you turn to the overall market, historically with low interest rates, the market trades at a higher multiple until real inflation goes above 4% he says.

Video 1 on the Affordable Care Act & healthcare in general:

Video 2 on for-profit hospitals (HMA, CYH, THC, HCA etc):

Video 3 on market valuation:

David Tepper Says Market Isn't a Bubble: His Thoughts on Valuation, Tapering, Airlines & More

After the Robin Hood Investors Conference last week, Appaloosa Management founder David Tepper sat down with Bloomberg TV to talk about the markets.

On market valuation: He does not think we're in a bubble now as he compared P/E multiples over the last 5 years to the 5-year period running up to the 2000 bubble.  Stocks now have seen little change in multiples, while stocks back then saw huge multiple expansion.

On airlines:  "Our big play versus the market is the airlines.  We're the biggest holder of many of these airlines." We flagged this big bet for readers of our Hedge Fund Wisdom newsletter over a year ago.  See what else Tepper is betting on by subscribing (a brand new issue was just released last week).

On his 2014 investing approach: "We'll probably stay long.  We recently put on a treasury short, to hedge ourselves against the equity markets.  Little bit scared of tapering... higher rates... though rates won't go that high."

On to be worried about: "I would be worried if I was a long/short guy and not long enough, that's what I'd be worried about.  But I'm not worried, because I am long.  But if I'm a L/S guy who can only go 60% long ... the biggest risk for the market is you'll have multiple expansion, higher growth, 10% earnings growth next year, and you'll have another year of 20-30% (performance)."

On J.C. Penney (JCP): "It was a tiny position... a trade and we're done."

On Twitter (TWTR):  They would have held Twitter longer, but they had a price target in the $40's and so when the stock hit that in the first days of trading, he exited.  "It's a discipline."

On Citigroup (C):  "Citi still has some pretty good upside, we think it can make 7 bucks a share."

On his performance this year:  "I think gross we're in the 40's (%)."

On tapering:  He does think it's time to start tapering. He also said: "There can be a short-term negative reaction.  But if you're tapering, it's because there's stronger underlying US growth.  And if there's growth, there's going to be higher P/E multiples and the market should be higher.  If the market goes down, that's great, it'll be one more opportunity that people will be come and buy."

On what a lower Japanese Yen means: "It means higher P/E multiples in Japanese companies, straight out.  That's the way it works, because they're such exporters. So when you have a weaker yen, you have higher earnings."

Embedded below is the video of Tepper's Bloomberg TV appearance:

For more on the Appaloosa manager, head to Tepper's other recent interview where he said he thinks the market could see an 18-20x multiple.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bill Ackman's New Herbalife Presentation From Robin Hood Conference

Pershing Square's founder Bill Ackman again attacked Herbalife (HLF) in his talk at the recent Robin Hood Investors Conference late last week in a presentation entitled "Robin Hood in Reverse."

In it, he highlights an SEC warning investors to beware of pyramid schemes posing as multi-level marketing programs, among other points.

Ackman's new HLF presentation from the Robin Hood event is embedded below in its entirety:

For more on Ackman, head to recent portfolio activity from Pershing Square here.

Corvex Management Sells ADT Shares Back to Company

ADT (ADT) recently announced that it has repurchased shares held by Keith Meister's activist hedge fund Corvex Management.  At the end of the third quarter, ADT was previously Corvex's 2nd largest position, worth over $454 million at the time.

We highlighted how Meister went activist on ADT over a year ago, as he was pushing for balance sheet optionality.  The company has headed in that direction by spending around $1.6 billion to shrink its share count by ~15%. 

It's a bit curious to see Corvex sell its stake so soon after the company has largely followed their lead.  Perhaps the hedge fund saw more compelling opportunities to allocate capital to, or maybe the company no longer wanted to deal with an activist, who knows.  Regardless, Corvex has exited its ADT stake.  ADT shares initially traded down around 8% on this news, before rebounding a bit that day.  However, they're down for a second consecutive day.

Per Google Finance, ADT is "a provider of electronic security, interactive home and business automation, and monitoring services for residences and small businesses in the United States and Canada. The Company’s products and services include ADT Pulse interactive home and business solutions, and home health services. ADT provides business security intrusion detection, which protect the business from burglary, robbery and intruders. Its electronic access control limits unauthorized entry and employee access to the business, as well as complete access. Its video surveillance views events in multiple areas of facility, which has control over loss and oversees business. Effective August 2, 2013, The ADT Corp acquired Devcon Security Services Corp, a provider of security protection services, from Devcon International Corp. In November 2013, Kastle Systems International announced that it had acquired Mutual Central Alarm Services and Stat-Land Security Systems from ADT Corporation."

You can view other recent portfolio activity from Corvex Management here.

Blue Ridge Capital Adds to Avis Budget Group Stake

John Griffin's hedge fund firm Blue Ridge Capital has filed a 13G with the SEC regarding shares of Avis Budget Group (CAR).  Per the filing, Blue Ridge now owns 6.17% of the company with 6,613,700 shares.

This marks a 56% increase in their position size since the end of the third quarter.  The filing was required due to activity on November 13th.

Last week, our premium Hedge Fund Wisdom newsletter drew attention to the fact that Blue Ridge had been increasing its stake in CAR in Q3, and now they've acquired even more shares in Q4.  Additionally, CAR was analyzed in the Q2 issue of our newsletter and new subscribers can access that as well.

Per Google Finance, Avis Budget Group "operates two brands in the global vehicle rental industry through Avis and Budget. Avis is a rental car supplier positioned to serve the commercial and leisure segments of the travel industry and Budget is a rental car supplier focused primarily on more value-conscious segments of the industry. It operates in three segments: North America, consisting of its Avis and Budget car rental operations in the United States and its Avis and Budget vehicle rental operations in Canada; International, consisting of its Avis and Budget vehicle rental operations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, South America, central America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, and Truck Rental, consisting of its Budget truck rental operations in the United States."

12 West Capital Increases Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Holdings

Joel Ramin's hedge fund firm 12 West Capital has filed a 13G with the SEC regarding its position in Aegean Marine Petroleum Network (ANW).  Per the filing, they now own 5.1% of the company with 2,388,713 shares.

This marks an 8% increase in their position size and the filing was required due to activity on November 12th.

Prior to founding 12 West, Ramin worked at Roberto Mignone's Bridger Capital.

Per Google Finance, Aegean Marine Petroleum Network is "an independent physical supplier and marketer of refined marine fuel from refineries, major oil producers and other sources and resell and deliver these fuels using its bunkering vessels to a broad base of end users, including oil tankers, container ships, drybulk carriers, cruise ships, reefers, LNG/LPG carriers, car carriers, ferries, marine fuel traders, brokers and other users. The Company serves Greece, Gibraltar, the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, Jamaica, Singapore, Northern Europe, Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam (ARA), Portland, United Kingdom, West Africa, Vancouver, Montreal, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Las Palmas, Tenerife, Morocco, Cape Verde and Panama"

We've highlighted some other portfolio activity from 12 West Capital here.

Joho Capital Boosts Veeco Instruments Position

Robert Karr's hedge fund firm Joho Capital has filed a 13G with the SEC regarding its position in Veeco Instruments (VECO).  Per the filing, they now own 6.5% of the company with 2,535,933 shares.

This marks a 170% increase in their position size and the filing was required due to activity on November 11th.

Per Google Finance, Veeco Instruments "designs, manufactures and markets equipment to make light emitting diodes (LEDs), hard-disk drives, as well as for emerging applications such as concentrator photovoltaics, power semiconductors, wireless components, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and other next-generation devices. The Company operates in two segments: Light Emitting Diode (LED) and Solar and Data Storage. In the LED & Solar segment, it designs and manufactures metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) systems, molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) systems and components sold to manufacturers of LEDs, wireless devices, power semiconductors, and concentrator photovoltaics, as well as to research and development (R&D) applications. In the Data Storage segment, it designs and manufactures the critical technologies used to create thin film magnetic heads (TFMHs) that read and write data on hard disk drives. In October 2013, the Company acquired Synos Technology, Inc."

Family Office Association

If you want to learn more about family offices the Family Offices Group is the #1 largest family office association where you can do so.  Supported by over 70,000 global members the Family Offices Group association provides the following resources to the industry:

1) Family Office Report: They have created a detailed report on the state of the family office industry, their investments, and how the industry is changing quickly.  This same report also includes a few free chapters from their bestselling book, The Family Office Book: Investing Capital for the Ultra-Affluent (ISBN#: 978-1118185360 ).  Get your free copy of this report here:

2) Free Family Office Association Membership: Unlike many other expensive family office association memberships which can range from $5,000-$20,000 a year or more, they have decided to give away their basic membership for free.  By doing so they have become the largest network of family offices, and that strengthens everything else they do.  Take advantage of this by visiting and clicking on "membership" at the top of the website.

3) Family Office Training Workshops: At these live events you can meet with family offices face-to-face from all over the world and hear them talk about what they invest in, and why.  To see their upcoming workshops please visit

4) Self-Directed Family Office Training: The Qualified Family Office Professional (QFOP) program is a self-paced training and certificate program which can be completed in one month, or over several years or longer if you would like.  This program includes over 30 hours of audio interviews with family office CIOs and CEOs as well as over 250 video modules.  It is the #1 most popular training and certificate program on family offices globally.  Learn more at

5) Family Office Database: To get access to their detailed database of single and multi-family offices please visit:

6) Single Family Offices: If you are a single family office and you are looking for resources please see &

If you have questions about any of these offerings you may reach the Family Offices Group at (212) 729-5067 or by emailing their team at

Thursday, November 21, 2013

New Q3 Issue of Hedge Fund Wisdom Now Available

The brand new Q3 issue of our premium Hedge Fund Wisdom newsletter is now available.  Subscribers, please login at to download it.

Inside This Issue

- Consensus buy/sell lists of the most popular trades among hedge funds

- The latest portfolios of 25 top hedge fund managers revealed

- Expert commentary on each fund's moves with historical context

- Equity analysis section focusing on 2 stocks hedgies were buying

The last issue of HFW analyzed Rite Aid (RAD) and Avis Budget Group (CAR).  Since publication on August 21st, shares are up 52.7% and 24.7% respectively, outperforming the S&P's gain of only 8.6% over the same timeframe.

Want to check out a free sample? View a free past issue here.

See What Stocks Are Analyzed This Quarter: Subscribe Below

The brand new issue focuses on two stocks that have recently been targeted by activist investors. The newsletter walks you through company background, the business model, the current situation, hedge fund activity in the stock, the activist thesis, as well as the bull case versus the bear case.

1 Year Subscription (4 issues, save 20% with this option): $299.99 per year

Quarterly Subscription: $89.99 per quarter

Want to pay by check?  Email us:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Acquires More DaVita Shares

In a Form 4 filed with the SEC, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has revealed new purchases in shares of DaVita (DVA). 

On November 6th, 7th, and 8th, Berkshire acquired 3,700,294 shares in total at prices ranging from $52.78 to $56.41.

After all was said and done, Berkshire now owns 35,147,124 shares of DaVita.  Keep in mind that the company had a 2-for-1 stock split on September 6th of this year.

This has been a position Berkshire has been heavily adding to ever since new portfolio managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler came onboard.  We've highlighted Berkshire's purchases of DVA shares earlier this year in the summer, as well as in 2012.

Per Google Finance, DaVita is "a provider of dialysis services in the United States for patients suffering from chronic kidney failure, also known as end stage renal disease (ESRD)."

For more on Berkshire, head to a recent interview with Warren Buffett where he said stocks are fairly priced.

Passport Capital Discloses Stake

John Burbank's hedge fund firm Passport Capital has filed a 13G with the SEC regarding shares of Inc (WUBA).  Per the filing, Passport now owns 11.8% of the company with 2,821,526 shares (via 1,410,763 ADR shares).  The filing was made due to activity on November 1st.

Per Yahoo Finance, the company "Beijing 58 Information and Technology Co., Ltd. owns and operates an on-line classified advertisement services Web Site under the name The Web Site helps individuals and SMEs to broadcast and search information relating to job opportunities, housing, dating, community events, services, and trading of second hand products. Beijing 58 Information and Technology Co., Ltd. was founded in 2005 and is based in Beijing, China."

For more from this hedge fund, head to John Burbank's thoughts at the Excellence in Investing Conference, as well as Burbank's comments at the Alpha Hedge West Conference.

Scout Capital Increases COTY Holdings

Adam Weiss and James Crichton's hedge fund firm Scout Capital Management filed a 13G with the SEC regarding shares of COTY (COTY).  Per the filing, Scout has revealed a 4.3% ownership stake in COTY with 3,530,000 shares.

This marks an increase of 30,000 shares since the the end of the second quarter.  The new filing was required due to activity on October 28th.

Per Google Finance, COTY is "engaged in the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of women’s and men’s fragrances, color cosmetics and skin and body care related products globally. The Company operates in three segments: Fragrances, Color Cosmetics and Skin & Body Care. The Company’s power brands consists of adidas, Calvin Klein, Chloe, Davidoff, Marc Jacobs, OPI, philosophy, Playboy, Rimmel and Sally Hansen. The Company sells products in each of its segments through retailers, including hypermarkets, supermarkets, independent and chain drug stores and pharmacies, upscale perfumeries, upscale and mid-tier department stores, nail salons, specialty retailers, duty-free shops and traditional food, drug and mass retailers."

For more portfolio activity from Scout Capital head here.

Dan Loeb Discloses New FedEx Stake

Third Point's founder Daniel Loeb today disclosed a new position in FedEx (FDX) at the Dealbook conference which was shown on CNBC and said he met with the CEO.

Loeb said that, "We had a very constructive discussion about the company."  He also commented that he is not looking to oust the CEO.

Third Point isn't the only prominent hedge fund interested in the company, either.  Our Hedge Fund Wisdom newsletter highlighted that John Burbank's Passport Capital and Richard Perry's Perry Capital both initiated stakes in FDX in the second quarter.  Perry's position was quite notable at the time, as they owned over $384 million worth and it was one of their largest disclosed US longs.

The thesis on this name focuses on improvement in profitability, bringing margins more in-line with competitors, as well as favorable tailwinds like gas prices.

Loeb also talked about shareholder activism and specifically about Sony (SNE).  Loeb argues they're more like private equity investors.  When asked whether or not Sony was a bet on Japan, Loeb replied, "We remain very bullish on Japan."

Embedded below are the videos of Loeb's comments:

Video 1 on FedEx:

Video 2 on Sony:

Video 3 on activism:

Video 4 on Herbalife:

For more on this hedge fund, we've posted up Third Point's Q3 letter as well.

Eminence Capital Goes Activist on Mens Wearhouse, Now Largest Shareholder

Ricky Sandler's hedge fund firm Eminence Capital recently filed an activist 13D with the SEC regarding shares of Men's Wearhouse (MW).  Per the filing, Eminence has disclosed a 9.8% ownership stake in the company with 4,684,200 shares, making them the largest shareholder.

The filing shows Eminence was buying MW shares in early October around $34 and then later in the month between $42 and $44.

Men's Wearhouse has recently been approached by fellow retailer Jos A. Bank (JOSB) about buying the company.  MW rebuffed the offer and now Sandler has sent a letter to MW's board asking them to reconsider.

While Sandler agrees that JOSB's $48 offer for MW undervalues the company, he argues that there are large synergies to be had in a merger.

In his letter, Sandler asks for the company to, "1) instruct your financial advisors to evaluate MW's strategic alternatives, including soliciting competing proposals to acquire MW and analyzing a leveraged recapitalization of MW in the public marketplace, and 2) enter into a dialogue with JOSB regarding a possible combination.  We intend to exercise our rights as shareholders to hold you accountable if you fail to take these actions by close of business on November 11th."

For more on this hedge fund, we've covered Eminence Capital's portfolio activity here.

Pennant Capital Boosts BioScrip & MRC Global Positions

Alan Fournier's hedge fund firm Pennant Capital has filed 2 separate 13G's with the SEC regarding two of their pre-existing positions.

BioScrip (BIOS)

First, Fournier has revealed an increased stake in BioScrip (BIOS).  Per the filing, Pennant now owns 8.44% of the company with 5,737,773 shares.  This is an increase of 250% in their position size since the end of the second quarter.  The filing was made due to activity on October 30th.

Per Google Finance, BioScrip is "a provider of pharmacy and home health services, which partners with patients, physicians, hospitals, healthcare payors and pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide clinical management solutions and the delivery of prescription medications and home health services. Its platform provides service capabilities and the ability to deliver clinical management services, which offers patients a community-based and home-based care environment. Its core services are provided in coordination with, and under the direction of the patient’s physician. Its home health professionals, including pharmacists, nurses, respiratory therapists and physical therapists, work with the physician to develop a plan of care suited to its patients’ specific needs. In August 2013, BioScrip Inc completed the acquisition of the business of CarePoint Partners Holdings LLC and its subsidiaries."

MRC Global (MRC)

Second, the hedge fund also increased its holdings of MRC Global (MRC). Per the 13G filing, Fournier's firm now owns 7.34% of MRC with 7,468,433 shares.  This marks an increase of around 13% since the end of Q2.  The filing was required due to activity on November 7th.

Per Google Finance, MRC is "the distributor of pipe, valves and fittings (PVF) and related products and services to the energy industry. The Company operates in two segments: North American segment and International segment. Its North American segment includes over 180 branch locations, six distribution centers in the United States, one distribution center in Canada, 11 valve automation service centers and over 170 pipe yards located in the oil and natural gas regions in North America. Its International segment includes over 40 branch locations throughout Europe, Asia and Australasia with distribution centers in each of the United Kingdom, Singapore and Australia and 10 automation service centers in Europe and Asia. In July 2013, MRC Global Inc announced that it has completed the previously announced acquisition of the operating assets of Dan H. Brown, Inc., D/B/A Flow Control Products (Flow Control)."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What We're Reading ~ Analytical Links 11/6/13

Individual investor bullishness hits 6 year high [PragCap]

What to do in this market [Brooklyn Investor]

On a consistent and repeatable investment process [Research Puzzle]

Portfolios With Purpose: Stock picking for a cause [WSJ]

The 20 smartest things Jeff Bezos has ever said [Fool]

The bull case on Valeant Pharmaceuticals [Barrons]

Quick glance at Du Pont [Modern Graham]

A look at QEP Resources and Rick's Cabaret [HF Intelligence]

Springleaf Holdings and the re-emergence of subprime consumer lending [CFA]

Take-Two: A compelling value with 2 asymmetric options [First Adopter]

Disney and Dish wrangle not over broadcast fees, but the future of TV [NYTimes]

Can companies maintain their extraordinarily high margins? [WSJ]

Whitney Tilson's observations from his trip to China [Seeking Alpha]

On China's pollution problem [NYTimes]

Ajit Jain feeds Buffett's hunger [Insider Quarterly]

Why Twitter's IPO is a bigger deal than Facebook's [WSJ]

For new MBA's, tech more appealing than Wall Street [WSJ]

Lee Cooperman Discloses dELiA's Stake

Lee Cooperman has filed a 13G with the SEC disclosing a brand new equity position in dELiA's (DLIA).  Per the filing, he owns 6.93% of the company with 4,761,905 shares.

The filing was made due to portfolio activity on October 24th.  On that day, the company also issued over 20.7 million shares upon automatic conversion of over $21.7 million in principal of the company's secured 7.25% convertible promissory notes.

Just last week, we highlighted how David Gallo's Valinor Management started a DLIA stake as well.

*Update: II Alpha talked to Cooperman about the stake and he said it was for his personal account and he bought it "because a guy I respect recommended it to me.  I have done no original work other than taking my granddaughter shopping in one of their stores as she likes the merchandise."

Lee Cooperman files with the SEC under his own name, but his hedge fund Omega Advisors files its SEC documents under that name as well, so it's interesting to hear this is a personal position.  It's also interesting to hear that he simply bought this stock on a tip with hardly any research.

Per Google Finance, dELiA's is "a retail company comprised of two lifestyle brands primarily targeting teenage girls and young women. The Company generates revenue by selling predominantly to teenage consumers through direct mail catalogs, Websites and retail stores. It operates in dELiA*s brand. Through its e-commerce Webpages, catalogs and retail stores, dELiA*s (the brand) offers a variety of product categories to teenage girls to cater to an entire lifestyle. Through its catalogs and the e-commerce Webpages, it sells many name brand products along with its own brand products in key teenage spending categories. These products include apparel and accessories. Its mall-based dELiA*s specialty retail stores derive revenue primarily from the sale of apparel and accessories and, to a lesser extent, branded apparel to teenage girls. It operates in two segments: direct marketing and retail stores."

For more on Omega Advisors, head to Cooperman's 4 long ideas at the Invest For Kids Chicago conference.

Bill Ackman's Talk on Investing at Oxford

Bill Ackman of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management recently sat down as part of Saïd Business School & the University of Oxford's distinguished speaker series.  Ackman talks about investing, how he got started in the hedge fund business, activism, and other finance topics.

For more on Ackman, we've also posted up Pershing Square's Q3 letter and some recent Pershing Square portfolio activity.

Embedded below is the video of Ackman's talk:

H/T to ValueWalk for the find