Friday, October 5, 2018

Steve Einhorn - Omega Advisors Interview on Boyar Podcast

Steve Einhorn of Omega Advisors was recently interviewed on The World According to Boyar Podcast.  Einhorn has been Lee Cooperman's longtime partner at the firm, which recently converted into a family office.

Steve Einhorn Interview on Boyar Podcast

-  Omega runs long/short, primarily in the US with average exposure in developed economies.  Would prefer 15% lumpy return than a 8% non-lumpy return.

- They also spend a lot of time on macro thinking and strategy to combine with their equity research.  They assess a number of factors: economic activity, earnings growth, monetary/fiscal policies, valuation, supply and demand, etc.

-  This helps them determine what exposure they want in the portfolio.  If they're constructive overall, they're willing to take more stock specific risk.  They're bottom-up stock pickers, but if a macro outlook leans certain ways, they can look to take more exposure to a certain sector.  They'll also sell options premium in certain instances.

- On position sizing: they first look at liquidity as they don't want to be so large in a name that they can't get out without disturbing the market.  The second is the risk/reward associated with a given name.  A large long for them is 3-5% of assets and large short would be 1-2%.

-  They'll exit a stock if it meets their stock price target and upside is diminished, or if they were simply wrong on their assessment of fundamentals, or if there's another stock in the sector that's more attractive.

-  Currently he likes the tech sector (software) due to rapid growth in revenue and cashflow.  They see moats around many of these names allowing them to keep pricing flexibility.  They think global growth will be less than it has been historically, and in this environment they want to be invested in growth names, as tech names are often independent of the business cycle.  Not to mention, the multiples they're paying is not excessive in their view.

- Another sector they like is industrials as a synchronized global economic expansion will benefit some of these companies.  They like the position in the cycle.  They also like financials, feels they're cheap relative to tangible book and can see high dividend growth.  In the energy sector, oil prices have ramped up, but some of those stocks haven't reflected that.

- They're not interested in utilities or telecom names, anything interest rate sensitive.  Consumer staples is another area that "looks expensive to them on a multiple basis relative to underlying growth prospects."

Steve Einhorn's Bear Market Checklist

Five items are almost always present at the end of a US bull market and the start of a bear market.  The five are:

1)  Problematic inflation:  if wage inflation is around 3.5% it's a problem (it's currently well below that).  Also watch core consumer prices (you'd need to see consumer inflation in excess of 2.25%)

2)  A hostile Federal Reserve:  raising rates well above the neutral rate of 2.5-3% causes a hostile Fed (currently below that).  Thinks they'll gradually lift rates.

3)  Prospect of recession: "virtually nothing we look at shows the economy in the US is prone to a recession anytime soon."

4)  Investor sentiment:  climbing a wall of worry.  Currently doesn't think it's excessive or speculative.

5)  Valuation: When it becomes extended relative to interest rates and inflation.  Current multiples aren't extended in relation to interest rates.  Modestly above long-term average.

- Sees forward equity returns of 7-9%.  "Bull markets don't die of old age, they die because they are murdered by the Federal Reserve.  Our Federal Reserve is not in a murderous mentality given tame inflation and moderate economic growth."

For other recent podcasts, we've also previously highlighted Boyar's interview with Chris Mayer, the author of 100 Baggers.

Embedded below is the podcast audio of Boyar's interview with Steve Einhorn:

Email readers:  Click here to listen

If you missed it, we also posted up complimentary equity research from Boyar on Charter Communications (CHTR), Franklin Resources (BEN), and SunOpta (STKL)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What We're Reading ~ 10/3/2018

The decision matrix: how to prioritize what matters [Farnam Street]

Sustainable sources of competitive advantage [Collaborative Fund]

Deep dive on wireless future: 5G [Axios]

How Shopify is the platform powering the direct-to-consumer revolution [Digiday]

Why Google Fiber is high-speed internet's most successful failure [HBR]

Pulling back the curtain on how SoftBank's massive Vision Fund works [TechCrunch]

A pitch on Yelp [Barrons]

Inside the world's fastest growing food delivery service [Eater]

Food delivery apps are impacting your favorite restaurants [Democrat & Chronicle]

How seltzer/sparkling water is upending coffee and beer [WSJ]

App-only banks rise in Europe and aim at traditional banks [NYTimes]

For some platforms, network effects are no match for local know-how [HBR]

David Rubenstein interviews Amazon's Jeff Bezos [YouTube]

How TripAdvisor changed travel [The Guardian]

The $29 billion battle to own how America sleeps [Fast Company]

How Paytm clinched its Berkshire Hathaway investment [Economic Times]

'Peak car' and the end of an industry [Bloomberg]

Monday, October 1, 2018

Howard Marks Interview With Tim Ferriss on Mastering the Market Cycle

Tim Ferriss recently interviewed Oaktree Capital's Howard Marks on his popular podcast as part of Marks' press tour for his new book that's coming out: Mastering the Market Cycle: Getting the Odds on Your Side. Here are some notes/summary as well as the full audio below.

Howard Marks Interview on Tim Ferriss Podcast

- "You can't predict, you can prepare."  This quote is from one of Marks' memos from way back in the 1990s. He uses this to note that he didn't predict the housing crash, but he was prepared because of cautious preparation in advance.

-  His previous book The Most Important Thing outlines the concept that you have to know where we are in the cycle.  "And where you are in the cycle is the primary determinant of risk."  So his new book, Mastering the Market Cycle, focuses on that aspect because just knowing the position in the cycle is a huge advantage.

- The book focuses on looking at the future not as the past or something that's already happened that might repeat, but look at it as a range of possibilities, a probability distribution.

-  "Most of us have an inherent bias, (we're) essentially cautious or essentially aggressive."  He notes it's very important to assess your personal bias as that affects so much of your success in investing.

-  "One of the keys to successful investing is to either be unemotional or at a minimum, act like you are.  The great investors I know behave in an unemotional fashion."  The problem of course is teaching yourself to be unemotional is counter to human behavior.  So part of it is being born with that predisposition.

-  " 'I don't know.'  It's a great thing to say and not enough people say it."

-  Marks recommends people read Nassim Taleb's book, Fooled by Randomness

-  "There's nothing more dangerous in life than being sure you know something that you don't know."

-  Marks thinks the most useful chapter of his new book is the one that talks about one's attitude toward risk.  From the book: "If I could ask only one question about each investment I had under consideration, it would be, 'how much optimism is factored into the price?'"

-   "We make money from favorable surprises.  If the positive conviction is so high then by definition there can never be a favorable surprise."  Marks labeled this as a number one concept.

-  He says the greatest thing he was ever taught was about stages of a bull market and how people shift from not believing things will get better, to people accepting things are improving, to finally people believing the good times will go on forever.  Buying in the first phase gives cheapest prices because there's not much optimism in the price.  The second phase is when the favorable surprise happens.  Then you reach the phase where there's so much optimism in the price that it's unlikely to yield a profit.

-  Marks thinks we're in the 8th inning of the markets.  However, we don't know how many innings there are in the game.  In a normal game, the good times could be close to ending.  "I think this is a time for more caution than usual."

-  Marks likes playing backgammon since probability is the name of the game.

-  On cycles: the biggest mistake you can make is to ignore the repetitive nature of the cyclical pattern.

-  Marks likes reading Grant's Interest Rate Observer.  Another book that Marks has enjoyed: Factfulness, which he recommends as it takes qualitative viewpoints commonly held and debunks them with data.

- Marks believes bitcoin can't be valued.

Podcast Audio:  Here is the link to stream the podcast episode (mp3 format): click here

Be sure to also check out Marks' new book: Mastering the Market Cycle.

David Tepper Interview: Has Been Positioned Cautiously

Appaloosa Management founder David Tepper was recently interviewed by CNBC.  These comments came before the recent wave of Chinese tariffs were announced, so keep that in mind for context but we still thought they were worth highlighting.

On Monetary Policy:

Tepper says the stock market rally has been "better than I thought" since 2010.  He's amazed that there's still quantitative easing going on in the world.  He thinks we're "kind of late" in the cycle and the tide is turning from loose to tight (monetary policy).

The Appaloosa founder believes we're in a late inning game.  It could be the 8th inning, but sometimes the game goes to extra innings.

Also, on taxes, he feels the tax cuts might be borrowing economic growth from the future and there might be some payback for that some point down the line.

On China, Trade Wars & Tariffs:

He thinks the tariffs with China are going to make it tough on the market going forward (note again he made these comments before the latest big wave of tariffs went into effect).  

If there's no tariffs, "The market's fair valued if you don't have tariffs on China.  But if you do have tariffs on China, how high does the Dollar go and where will earnings be in that case?"

On his latest equity positioning, Tepper noted, "Ya know I probably don't have enough exposure.  I've taken down my exposure.  I'm still long, but in percentage terms of S&P exposure, maybe 25%."  He's been worried about the trade war situation.  He says he's been wrong overall on positioning and his stocks haven't done that well this quarter.

He doesn't know how much of the tariff situation is discounted in the market.  If a deal is reached, he doesn't think a 10% pop would happen, but something positive.

At the same time, he points out that "We may have to get used to that these tariffs just may be on.  Then, there will be an adjustment in the stock market."  It's clear he didn't think things were fully discounted at the market prices when he made these comments (September 13th)

Tepper's Equities Positioning:  

Tepper thinks he's been too cautious recently.  He has cash he can put to work.  He doesn't think the trade war issue is easy to solve.  But he can put on portfolio adjustments very quickly, he notes.

On specific stocks, Tepper notes Facebook (FB) looks somewhat cheap, especially for the growth rate.  They still hold a sizable position.  He's less concerned about the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and more-so looking at margins and the latest guidance there.  Stock still trades 16-17x, he points out.

On Micron Technology (MU), Tepper notes that his hedge fund is still very long.  "The demand side is going to be good for a long time.  Servers, cloud, and if you have smart cars."  He likes the company's management.  Also pointed out company buybacks and low valuation as shares have pulled back as investors react to concerns about memory chip demand slowing down.

Embedded below are the videos from a portion of David Tepper's CNBC interview:

Video 1

Video 2