Friday, February 14, 2014

What We're Reading ~ Hedge Fund Links 2/14/14

Hedge fund masters [Ari Kiev]

And the world's most successful hedge fund manager is... [CNBC]

Kynikos suffers 14% drop in 2013 [FINalternatives]

Greenlight sues website over Micron disclosure [ValueWalk]

Who would be on the Mount Rushmore of the hedge fund industry? [Research Puzzle]

Evaluating the dearth of female hedge fund managers [Dealbook]

Brevan Howard said to shut emerging market fund [Dealbook]

Tiger Global raises new VC fund [Fortune]

Blackstone nets $1.4bn for hedge fund stakes [FINalternatives]

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What We're Reading ~ Analytical Links 2/12/14

The single best metric: EV/EBITDA [Crossing Wall Street]

Why margin debt matters [Seeking Alpha]

What I learned at the mall about investing [Institutional Investor]

Half of Americans can't raise $2k in 30 days [Time]

Get ready for a long proxy fight over Time Warner Cable [Dealbook]

John Maynard Keynes' own portfolio not too dismal [NYTimes]

Don't believe the tech bubble hype [Andreessen Horowitz]

US switching from credit card signatures to PINs, but banks need to get on board [Verge]

Investor group targets Ocwen's mortgage servicing practices [FT]

Microsoft's mobile muddle [Stratechery]

Two notable mutual fund trends [AAII]

Why ADT is appalling [Herb Greenberg]

How Mulberry got squashed in fashion's squeezed middle [The Guardian]

Coca Cola: glass less than half full [FT]

On an upturn in capital spending [FT]

Lee Ainslie Interview: Columbia Business School's Graham & Doddsville

Columbia Business School is out with the Winter 2014 issue of its Graham & Doddsville investment newsletter.  This time, they feature a rare interview with Maverick Capital's Lee Ainslie.

The hedge fund manager talked about how he's always trying to learn new things and how he's read every investing book he can get his hands on (if you need some ideas, check out all our recommended reading lists in the right-hand column on the site).

Some interesting quotes from the interview:

On portfolio positioning: "In terms of sizing, our average long is roughly twice the size of an average short at Maverick and our long portfolio is more concentrated than our short portfolio.  This construction allows us to maintain net long exposure typically between 30% and 60%.  The greater diversification of our short portfolio reflects the riskier nature of these investments and that these positions turn over more frequently, so having a deeper bench of such investments is helpful."

On valuation:  "So while we place great emphasis on valuation in our investment decisions, valuation alone should never be the driver of either a long or a short investment ... I believe it is important to identify a catalyst that should benefit the valuation ... The most commonly used valuation metric at Maverick is sustainable free cash flow in comparison to enterprise value."

On what he looks for in deep dives: "The most critical factor that we're trying to evaluate is the quality of management - their intelligence, competitiveness and, most importantly, their desire to create shareholder value."

On what he looks for when hiring: "The most important components we gauge include competitiveness, mental flexibility and emotional consistency - that last trait is surprisingly important."  These are pretty similar to what Julian Robertson looked for when he was hiring or seeding funds.

This issue also highlights talks with Jim Grant of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, Dr. Kenneth Shubin Stein of Spencer Capital and Geoffrey Batt of Euphrates Iraq Fund

Embedded below is Columbia Business School's latest Graham & Doddsville newsletter:

You can download a .pdf copy here.

For past great issues of this newsletter, check out their interview with JANA Partners as well as one interviewing Li Lu.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Coatue Management Dumps Longstanding Equinix Position

Philippe Laffont's hedge fund Coatue Management has just filed an amended 13G with the SEC regarding Equinix (EQIX).  The filing indicates that they no longer own a position in the company as of December 31st, 2013.

This is significant news when you consider EQIX had been one of Coatue's top holdings for quite some time.  At the end of the third quarter, they owned a stake worth over $820 million and so they liquidated their stake during the fourth quarter when shares traded between $152 and $185.

Earlier, we also pointed out JANA Partners' thesis on EQIX as they have built up a stake in the company throughout 2013.

JANA Partners' Thesis on Equinix: Q4 Letter

Barry Rosenstein's hedge fund JANA Partners returned 20.4% in 2013 and their Q4 letter details some of their activity before year-end.  They note that they've exited their activist stake in Agrium (AGU) and have started stakes in Equinix (EQIX), Juniper Networks (JNPR), and Airbus Group (AIR FP), among other names.

JANA Partners' Thesis on Equinix (EQIX)

JANA writes in its Q4 letter:

"EQIX is the market leader in low latency, network dense co-location data  centers. We have been following EQIX as a member of our “JANA Universe” for the last couple  of years, and we have waited patiently for an opportunity to buy at an attractive price. We started  building our position late in the second quarter and continued to purchase the shares in the third  and fourth quarters. We believe there is a wide moat around the specialized services that EQIX  provides, even though over-capacity in the lower value added wholesale segment of the data  center market has pressured the revenue growth rate and has completely altered investor  perception of the quality of EQIX’s franchise. We take comfort in the fact that 95% of revenue is  recurring monthly, and churn is less than 10% per year. EQIX has not had a down quarter year  over year in the last seven years in terms of revenue or OIBDA. In fact, both revenue and  OIBDA have grown in excess of 10% every year. Profitability is robust: OIBDA margins are  45% and FCF margins are 25%. Overall returns on invested capital are still low, a result of the  heavy investment in growth; but four wall returns are compelling, we estimate at 25%+ after tax,  and we pencil incremental returns on capital to be greater than 15%. CEO Steve Smith and CFO  Keith Taylor have been together at the company for six years and have managed through a similar  period of a slowdown in growth in the third quarter of 2010. Then, as now, investor confidence  was shattered by the slowdown, and to capitalize on the misplaced pessimism, then as now,  management announced a share repurchase program. In 2010 the repurchase announcement  turned out to be the absolute bottom as the stock went on to triple over the next three years.  While we have great hopes for EQIX, we do not expect a similar outcome this time around, but at  the current valuation of 12x our estimate of FCF (adjusted for growth capex) for 2014, we believe  even a modest acceleration in growth trends will be amplified dramatically in the stock price. We  also expect that EQIX will be granted a PLR by the IRS to convert to a REIT, which will yield  substantial tax savings."

*Update: An earlier version of this article stated that Coatue Management had been a large shareholder as well.  However, they literally just filed an amended 13G with the SEC and have indicated that they no longer own any EQIX shares as of the end of 2013.

Other hedge funds that have held positions in EQIX recently include Lone Pine, Paulson & Co, Senator, and Hoplite, among others.

EQIX shares sold off heavily during 2013, trading around $231 in Q2 and trading as low as $152 in Q4 and obviously JANA has taken advantage of the sell-off to build a position.  EQIX has rallied off the lows and now trades at $190, a level it was trading at in Q2 of 2013.

Check out past activity from JANA Partners here.

Pershing Square Sells General Growth Properties Stake to Company

Bill Ackman's hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management has finally sold the rest of its longstanding position in General Growth Properties (GGP). 

The company has announced that it acquired the shares from Pershing for around $556 million (around 27.6 million shares at a price of $20.12).

As detailed in our Hedge Fund Wisdom newsletter last year, Pershing Square had already sold almost half of its GGP stake in the third quarter.  And now the fund is completely out of the position as they've also sold their warrants in the company to Brookfield Asset Management, the company's largest shareholder.

This has been one of Ackman's most successful investments ever, as he purchased shares below $1 a share.

Per Google Finance, General Growth Properties is "a real estate investment trust (REIT). The Company owns or with joint venture partners 144 regional malls (126 domestic and 18 in Brazil) consists of approximately 135 million square feet. The Company is engaged in ownership, operation, management and selective re-development of its Consolidated Properties and Unconsolidated Properties, which are primarily regional malls."

For more on Pershing, we've also highlighted that they recently trimmed their Beam position and have disclosed a Platform Specialty Products stake.

Lee Cooperman Adds to New Residential Investment Corp Stake

Lee Cooperman's Omega Advisors has filed a 13G with the SEC regarding a 6% ownership stake in New Residential Investment (NRZ) with over 15.2 million shares. 

This marks an increase in their position size of over 9.5 million shares since the end of the third quarter.  The filing was required due to activity on January 30th.

NRZ was spun off from Newcastle Investment Corp (NCT), a position Cooperman also owns, back in May of 2013.

Per Google Finance, New Residential Investment Corp is "incorporated on September 26, 2013, is a real estate investment trust. The Company focuses on investing in, and actively managing, investments related to residential real estate. The Company is managed by an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group LLC, a global investment management. The Company primarily target investments in excess mortgage servicing rights, residential mortgage backed securities, residential mortgage loans and other related investments."

You can view other portfolio activity from Lee Cooperman here.

Joel Ramin's 12 West Capital Starts Zulily Position

Joel Ramin's hedge fund 12 West Capital has disclosed a new position in Zulily (ZU) per a 13G filed with the SEC.  The hedge fund now owns 5.6% of ZU with 735,804 shares.  The filing was made due to activity on January 31st.

12 West isn't the only hedge fund involved here as we've detailed how Blue Ridge Capital reported a Zulily stake as well.

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."

You can view past portfolio activity from 12 West Capital here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Jeff Saut on Richard Russell's "Rich Man, Poor Man"

Market strategist Jeff Saut has published his weekly market commentary and this time around he recites the "Rich Man, Poor Man" story from Richard Russell about how making simple decisions is the path to prosperity.

Saut himself adds,

"In the world we live in, few look at risk.  Most only look at reward.  The few who do look at risk (the educated, the street savvy) make their money at the expense of the great unwashed majority who swallow the noise nonsense about getting rich quick.  Investing is a get rich slowly process.  You have to put your money at risk in the face of uncertainty.  Emotions run rampant before the uncertainty of floating, fluctuating, often violent and volatile markets."

Embedded below is Jeff Saut's weekly market commentary: "Rich Man, Poor Man!"

You can download a .pdf copy here.

For more from Saut, head to 6 themes for investing in a slow growth environment.

Lone Pine Capital Starts Position In LPL Financial Holdings

Steve Mandel's hedge fund firm Lone Pine Capital has filed a 13G with the SEC disclosing a new position in LPL Financial Holdings (LPLA).  Per the filing, Lone Pine now owns 6.4% of the company with over 6.5 million shares.  The filing was required due to activity on January 28th.

Per Google Finance, LPL Financial Holdings is "formerly LPL Investment Holdings Inc., is a holding company. The Company provides an integrated platform of brokerage and investment advisory services to independent financial advisors and financial advisors at financial institutions (collectively advisors) in the United States of America. Through its custody and clearing platform, the Company provides access to diversified financial products and services enabling its advisors to offer independent financial advice and brokerage services to retail investors (clients)."

View additional recent portfolio activity from Lone Pine Capital here.

Oaktree Capital Updates Stakes in Masonite, NewPage Holdings & Capital Product Partners

Howard Marks' investment firm Oaktree Capital has filed a slew of amended 13G's with the SEC detailing some of their recent portfolio changes.

Masonite (DOOR)

Their first 13G discloses a 17.9% ownership stake in Masonite (DOOR) with over 5.35 million shares.  This is an increase of over half a million shares since their last disclosure at the end of the third quarter.  The filing was required due to activity on December 31st.

Per Google Finance, Masonite is "designer and manufacturer of interior and exterior doors for the residential new construction; the residential repair, renovation and remodeling, and the non-residential building construction markets. The Company principally operates in North America; Europe, Asia and Latin America, and Africa. The Company markets and sells its products to remodeling contractors, builders, homeowners, retailers, dealers, lumberyards, commercial and general contractors and architects through wholesale and retail distribution channels. Its portfolio of brands includes Masonite, Marshfield, Premdor, Mohawk, Megantic, Algoma, Baillargeon, Birchwood Best and Lemieux."

Capital Product Partners (CPLP)

Oaktree's second filing shows their ownership stake in Capital Products Partners (CPLP) is now 6.9% with over 5 million shares.  This is an increase of over 4.1 million shares since their last disclosure at the end of the third quarter.  The filing notes the activity was on December 31st.

Per Google Finance, Capital Product Partners is "an international tanker company. The Company is engaged the seaborne transportation services of crude oil and refined petroleum products, edible oils and soft chemicals, by chartering its vessels under medium to long-term time and bareboat charters."

NewPage Holdings

Last, the firm also disclosed a 19.4% ownership stake in NewPage with over 1.3 million shares.  The filing was made due to activity on December 31st.  We highlighted Oaktree's original NewPage disclosure back in October.

Per Google Finance, NewPage Group is: "After struggling through several financially challenging years for the coated paper making industry, NewPage would like to do just that, turn over a new page. Through subsidiary NewPage Corp., the company is one of the largest makers of coated and specialty paper in North America. From mills in the Eastern and Midwestern US, NewPage churns out about 3.5 million tons of paper annually. Its papers are often used to produce annual reports, magazines, and catalogs. Customers include xpedx, Advance Magazine Publishers (dba Condé Nast), McGraw-Hill, Time Inc., and Avery Dennison. NewPage Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late 2011." 

For more from this investment firm, head to Howard Marks' letter on the role of luck in investing.