Wednesday, November 20, 2019

New Q3 Hedge Fund Newsletter: Investment Thesis Summaries of Square (SQ) & New Media Investment Group (NEWM)

The new Q3 2019 issue of our quarterly hedge fund newsletter is now available and reveals the latest portfolios of top managers.

Subscribers please login at to download it.

Inside the New Q3 Issue

- Investment thesis summaries of 1 growth stock & 1 value stock that hedge funds were buying:  Square (SQ) and New Media Investment Group (NEWM).  Quickly get up to speed on the current situation and bull / bear thesis on each stock

- New consensus buy / sell lists of the most popular hedge fund trades in Q3

- Reveals the latest portfolios of 25 top hedge funds (full list here): Now also includes Sequoia Fund

33% Discount Ends Soon

Take advantage of the savings while you still can.  After signing up, you'll get immediate access to the new issue & the archive of past issues.

1-year Subscription (4 issues): Normal Price $299.99 Discount Price $199.99 per year

Quarterly Subscription: Normal Price $89.99 Discount Price $59.99 per quarter

Want to pay by check or soft dollar account?  Please email us: info (at) hedgefundwisdom (dot) com

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Man Who Solved The Market Book Review: How Jim Simons Launched The Quant Revolution By Gregory Zuckerman

  Three-time winner of the Gerald Loeb award, author Gregory Zuckerman has just released his latest book, The Man Who Solved The Market: How Jim Simons Launched The Quant Revolution

Before diving in, let's take a second to acknowledge that it's amazing such a book exists in the first place.  The subject of the book, Jim Simons and his firm Renaissance Technologies ('Rentec'), have always been shrouded in secrecy.  Most on Wall Street have at least heard of their mysterious Medallion Fund and heard rumors of the insane returns it generates.  But little was actually known about the firm and how it made money.

For those unfamiliar with Rentec, a quote from the book jacket sums up why you should care (emphasis ours): "No other investor - Warren Buffett, George Soros, Peter Lynch, Steve Cohen, or Ray Dalio - can touch the track record of Renaissance Technologies founder Jim Simons.  Since 1988, Renaissance's signature Medallion fund has generated average annual returns of 66 percent.  The firm has recorded trading gains of more than one hundred billion dollars.  Simons himself is worth twenty-three billion dollars." (The book also has a yearly performance breakdown in the Appendix.)

While value investors look up to Warren Buffett and Seth Klarman, and traders look up to Stan Druckenmiller and George Soros, in the quant world Medallion is quite literally the gold standard.  And while many hedge funds charge 2 and 20 (percentage management fee and performance fee), Medallion charges an audacious 5 and 44.

Over the years, we've talked to a few former employees of the firm and even then they would be very vague about their work, never giving specifics, and certainly wouldn't go on the record about anything.  'Googling' the founder and his firm yields only a handful of rare interviews with Simons (mostly about mathematics) and some performance numbers, but that's about as in-depth as it gets.

So the fact that Zuckerman was able to interview more than 40 current and former employees, Simons's friends and family, as well as Simons himself, says a lot.  It's safe to say that doesn't happen without Zuckerman's excellent work in the past as a journalist and author.  His previous book, The Greatest Trade Ever about John Paulson is one of our favorite financial reads and no doubt laid the groundwork for him to be able to write this new book on Simons.

The Man Who Solved The Market profiles Simons's journey from mathematician and Soviet code breaker to quant pioneer in a Long Island strip mall.  It highlights how he hired physicists, mathematicians, and computer scientists to blaze an entirely new path on Wall Street, one dominated by fundamental analysis and human traders at the time.

Some of the biggest takeaways from the book were the lessons on culture, management, and alignment of interests.  For a firm so reliant on computers, the human aspect was perhaps the most intriguing, from managing people to building models around human behavior in order to exploit it.

Interlaced throughout the story are also interesting anecdotes, like when Rentec once had a 'fat-finger' trade buying 5x more wheat contracts than they were supposed to and the next day the media blamed a 'poor harvest' for the price move.

One unanticipated turn the book takes is by examining some of the inner turmoil at the firm and in particular the effects of all the wealth Rentec partners and employees wound up with, like how Rentec senior executive Robert Mercer is basically responsible for Donald Trump's presidency.

Normally, we end each book review outlining who should read the book or might benefit from it.  But honestly, we think everyone would enjoy it.  Even if you're not a quant or have zero interest in quants, there's still lessons to be gleaned and it's a very entertaining read.  After all, we're big believers in learning from all types of investors or traders, regardless of which strategy you follow. 

Obviously, the book isn't going to just give away Rentec's secrets and outline the blueprint to market success.  More than anything, The Man Who Solved The Market gives you a peek behind the curtain of a notoriously secretive firm and tells a previously untold story.  We highly recommend Zuckerman's profile of the 'modern-day Midas' and it's the perfect gift this holiday season for anyone interested in markets.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Sohn London Investment Conference: Only 2 Weeks Away

The 8th annual Sohn London Investment Conference is only two weeks away.  It will take place on the 14th November at London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square. 

It will feature some of Europe's top fund managers sharing their best investment ideas to benefit charity including the Sohn Conference Foundation, which is dedicated to the treatment and cure of paediatric cancer and other childhood diseases.

This year also includes the second Sohn Women's Brunch, as a forum for women in finance aiming to promote diversity in the industry. 

You can get more information about the conference here:

Sohn London 2019 Speakers List

- Brian Baldwin, Trian Fund Management

- Catherine Berjal, CIAM

- Fadi Arbid, Amwal Capital

- James Hanbury, Odey Asset Management

- Jason Ader, SpringOwl Asset Management

- Lucy Macdonald, Allianz Global Investors

- Måns Larsson, Makuria

- Pieter Taselaar, Lucerne Capital Management

- Per Johansson, Bodenholm Capital

- Tamas Eisenberger, Sikra Capital

Conference Details

When: 14th November 2019

Where: London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square

This should be another great event as always. You can click here to register for the conference.

Glenview Capital Trims Brookdale Senior Living Stake

Larry Robbins' Glenview Capital now owns 9.59% of Brookdale Senior Living (BKD) with over 17.63 million shares, per a 13G recently filed with the SEC.  This marks a slight decrease from the 18.43 million shares they owned at the end of the second quarter.  The filing was made due to portfolio activity on October 30th.

Per Yahoo Finance, Brookdale "owns and operates senior living communities in the United States. It operates through five segments: Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care, CCRCs, Health Care Services, and Management Services."

ValueAct Capital Reduces Alliance Data Systems Position

Jeff Ubben's activist firm ValueAct Capital has also filed both a Form 4 and a 13D with the SEC regarding its stake in Alliance Data Systems (ADS). 

ValueAct now only owns 2.7% of the company with a little over 1.377 million shares.  This is down from the 3.7 million they reported owning back at the end of Q2.
The Form 4 filing notes that ValueAct converted its previously disclosed 150,000 shares of Series A non-voting convertible preferred stock into 1.5 million shares of common stock.  The 13D also indicates that ValueAct sold 2 million ADS shares at $101.50 on October 28th and sold another 1.83 million shares at $102 the next day.

Per Yahoo Finance, Alliance Data Systems "provides data-driven marketing and loyalty solutions worldwide."

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

What We're Reading ~ 10/30/19

The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution [Gregory Zuckerman]

How TikTok holds our attention [The New Yorker]

Inside the Nordstrom dynasty [NYTimes]

Is Amazon unstoppable? [The New Yorker]

Schwab kills commissions to feed its flywheel of scale [Intrinsic Investing]

Learning from Costco's Jim Sinegal [MastersInvest]

How Irish butter Kerrygold conquered America's kitchens [Bloomberg]

TheRealReal: the internet's luxury consignment shop [The New Yorker]

On the importance of humility [NYTimes]

With summer over, will hard setlzer's popularity go away? [LATimes]

The strange revival of vinyl records [The Economist]

On filtering the barrage of financial news [CFA Institute]

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Third Point's Q3 Letter: EssilorLuxottica Thesis

Dan Loeb's hedge fund firm Third Point is out with its third quarter letter.  In it, they touch on activist investing, their successful investment in Sotheby's (BID), an update on Sony (SNE) and Argentine Credit, and also outline their thesis on newer holding EssilorLuxottica.

Of the latter, they write:

"Our analysis of potential merger synergies points to over €1 billion in additional profit through efficiencies and revenue growth, almost double the Company’s current targets.  In the near‐term, this will be driven by cross‐selling to wholesale customers, insourcing lens procurement, and supply chain efficiencies.  The longer‐term opportunity to disrupt the industry value chain is even more appealing: combining lens and frame to shrink raw material need and waste, reducing shipping costs by merging prescription labs with global distribution hubs, and providing a true omni‐channel sales offering.  These initiatives will transform the way glasses are sold, significantly improving the customer experience."

Third Point sees the company earning over 8 euros of EPS in 2023 and for earnings and FCF to grow at a mid-teens compound annual growth rate.

Embedded below is Third Point's Q3 letter:

You can download a .pdf here.

For other recent hedge fund letters, you can also read Howard Marks' latest letter here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

What We're Reading ~ 10/23/19

Blackstone CEO's new book: What It Takes [Stephen Schwarzman]

Taking a look at Domino's [Timberwolf Equity Research]

Quick new interview with Peter Lynch [Fidelity]

Denise Chisholm on historical sector valuations [Barrons]

With DataXu buy, Roku unveils big ad ambitions [Digiday]

At Costco, everything resonates with the consumer [Retail Dive]

Disney, IP, and returns to marginal affinity [Matthew Ball]

Apple Pay and the future of mobile payments [PYMNTS]

Technical overview of Elastic (ESTC) [Motley Fool]

Inside Apple's long, bumpy road to Hollywood [Hollywood Reporter]

20 countries that will face population declines [Business Insider]

Monday, October 21, 2019

New Howard Marks Letter on Negative Interest Rates: "Mysterious"

Oaktree Capital's chairman Howard Marks is out with his latest memo.  It is entitled "Mysterious" and deals with the topic of negative interest rates.

He writes, "The fact that we know what they are–as we do with inflation and deflation – doesn’t alter the fact that we don’t know for sure why negative rates are prevalent today, how long they’ll continue in force, what might cause them to turn positive, what their consequences are, or whether they’ll reach the U.S."

The rest of his letter follows.  Embedded below is Howard Marks' latest letter:

You can download a .pdf copy here.

For more from this manager be sure to check out his books Mastering the Market Cycle as well as The Most Important Thing.

Corvex Management Goes Activist on ForeScout Technologies

Keith Meister's hedge fund firm Corvex Management has filed a 13D with the SEC regarding shares of ForeScout Technologies (FSCT).  Per the filing, Corvex now owns 7.2% of ForeScout with over 3.34 million shares.  However, the 13D is being filed jointly with Jericho Capital Asset Management which also owns shares, bringing their collective exposure to 14.5% of the company with over 6.68 million shares.

The filing shows Corvex as buying throughout September and October initially at prices around $35.xx but really ramped up their buying when shares traded down to $25.xx.

The 13D also contains information about their new activist stance: "After the close of business on October 18, 2019, the Corvex Persons agreed with the Jericho Persons to work together to engage with the Issuer and its management regarding its business and prospects. The Corvex Persons and the Jericho Persons believe that combining their complementary expertise, skill sets and perspectives will be beneficial in discussions with the Issuer. The Corvex Persons and the Jericho Persons anticipate having private discussions with the Issuer as soon as practicable."

Per Yahoo Finance, ForeScout Technologies "provides network security products in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Asia Pacific, and Japan. It offers CounterACT that provides for visibility and control capabilities across campus information technology and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, operational technology devices, data center physical and virtual devices, and cloud virtual devices; and SilentDefense, which offers visibility and control capabilities within the operational technology portion of the network."

Glenview Capital Files 13D on Meritor

Larry Robbins' hedge fund firm Glenview Capital has filed a 13D with the SEC on shares of Meritor (MTOR).  Per the filing, Glenview now owns 14.7% of the company with exposure to over 12.1 million shares.  This is inclusive of 4.9 million shares underlying call options.

This is up from the previous 7.2 million shares Glenview had exposure to at the end of the second quarter, per their most recent 13F filing.  So basically Glenview has added call option exposure and then gone activist on the name.

The filing also includes the standard activist investor boilerplate: "The Reporting Persons intend to engage in discussions with the Company and the Company’s management and board of directors, other shareholders of the Company and other interested parties on issues that may relate to the business, management, operations, assets, capitalization, financial condition, strategic plans, governance, board composition and the future of the Company.  Glenview Capital Management has entered into a customary confidentiality agreement with the Company in order to facilitate these discussions."

Per Yahoo Finance, Meritor "designs, develops, manufactures, markets, distributes, sells, services, and supports integrated systems, modules, and components to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and the aftermarket for the commercial vehicle, transportation, and industrial sectors. It operates through two segments, Commercial Truck; and Aftermarket, Industrial and Trailer."

Mantle Ridge Files Form 4 on CSX

Paul Hilal's investment firm Mantle Ridge LP has filed a Form 4 with the SEC regarding its stake in CSX (CSX).  Per the filing, Mantle Ridge sold 3.45 million shares on October 17th at $67.91.  The filing notes this was "in order to repay Mantle Ridge Fund obligations under a secured credit facility. The Reporting Persons have no current plans to sell any additional shares of the Issuer, although they reserve the right to do so in their discretion."

The Form 4 also shows Mantle Ridge made pro rata distributions of over 34.49 million shares to direct and indirect owners of the Mantle Ridge funds.  Also, 36,813 shares were contributed to certain charitable organizations.

Prior to founding Mantle Ridge, Hilal worked at Pershing Square and runs a similar activist strategy, though more concentrated.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Sohn San Francisco Notes 2019: Kacher, Yusko, Kawaja & More

The Sohn San Francisco Investment Conference just concluded and featured hedge fund managers sharing their latest investment ideas to benefit charity.  The event benefits the Excellence in Investing for Children's Causes Foundation and a portion of the proceeds also go to The Sohn Conference Foundation.

We've already posted up notes from Next Wave Sohn San Francisco which featured emerging managers.  Now below are notes from the main event.

Sohn San Francisco 2019 Notes

Kevin Oram, Praesidium Investment Management Company, LLC

Idea: Instructure (INST)

•    Hidden value that can be unlocked
•    2 key products:
o    Canvas is a leader in education learning software which is ~90% of revenue
o    Bridge is corporate learning software
•    Canvas is student and educator collaboration software
•    Biggest competitor is Blackboard – which has a legacy on premise software and has had trouble transitioning to a cloud model
• Software is a great business but vertical software is even better as it serves a very specific market
•    Believe there is a significant margin expansion opportunity from 24% in 2019 to 40%+ by 2022
•    Has an opportunity to roll up software in other adjacencies given a lot of fragmentation of players in education software
•    Believe it is worth $2.5bn versus current valuation of $1.5bn
•    Undervalued due to large losses in Bridge – corporate learning
•    Bridge software is good but significant competition in the corporate market with entrenched players
•    Bridge has very little synergy with Canvas given different source code and dedicated sales team
•    Opportunity to unlock value by divesting from Bridge via sale, shutdown and focus on Canvas
•    Engaging actively with management over last several months to present case on value destruction of Bridge
•    Dec 3rd – Will have an analyst day to describe company’s new strategy and operating model – could be the catalyst market has been looking for

Gil Simon, SoMa Equity Partners

Idea: Sailpoint (SAIL)

•    Believe that there is 100% upside to $35-40 per share
•    Best of breed software trading at a reasonable valuation (<3x 2022e="" p="" sales="">•    Identity is central to enterprise security but this is difficult because the modern large enterprise is running hundreds of applications
•    Identity and access management is the #1 priority within security
•    Identity Governance and Administration (IGA): Ensure employees access only what they need to access
•    2 key products: Identity IQ and IdentityNow
•    ~1,300 customers
•    Extending the lead over legacy competition like IBM and Oracle
•    8,500 customers market opportunity from legacy competitors
•    CA and Oracle not likely to focus on this space
•    Buying opportunity on missed execution; have recently strengthened the management team
•    Expect revenue growth to re-accelerate which should drive a snap back in the share price

Adam Fisher, Commonwealth Asset Management

Idea: China Interest Rate Convergence

•    Japanese working population peaked in 1995
•    China is a good analog for Japan – working age population peaked in 2015 – projected to fall by 125 million through 2040
•    China’s 4 megacities are already as rich as the rest of East Asia
•    Ne net: Believes that interest rates in China are coming down and going to zero

Glen Kacher, Light Street Capital

Idea: Talend (TLND)

•    $6.5bn data integration market growing >10%
•    Most robust platform across on-premise and cloud environments
•    $218mm of ARR, growing 29% yoy with mix shift towards cloud
•    87% recurring revenue
•    Founded in 2005 and went public in 2016
•    Focused on ETL products: Extract, Transform, Load
•    Talend is the growth leader in the data integration market
•    Hadoop hit a wall but Talend benefits from the cloud database wave
•    Revenue model is based on seat based subscription software revenue, seat and consumption based saas revenue, 3) project based revenue
•    Cloud mix shift should increase over time
•    Believes value could be +86% in the base case

Debbie McCoy, Blackrock

Pitch on theme of sustainable investing and ESG (environmental, social, government)

•    Increasing sustainable investing adoption across large money managers
•    Built an internal model to evaluate companies rather than using third party ESG scores
o    Look at employee happiness as a factor in the model
o    Incorporate other unique factors that third party scores don’t take into account

Myron Scholes, Janus Henderson Investors

The Advantages of Time Diversification: Risks from Option Prices that Inform Investment Decisions.  Tails are important to investors – if you remove the extreme tail gains, realized return falls to almost zero and take out extreme tail losses, realized return nearly doubles over the very long term

Connor Browne, Thornburg Investment Management

Idea: Alkermes plc

•    Biopharma company focused on patient inspired solutions
•    A unique focus on hard to treat patients  - 2 key drugs for opioids addiction and schizophrenia
•    Vivitrol – treatment for opioid misuse disorder; blocks the opioid receptor in the brain
o    Competes with methadone and suboxone and aimed on getting you off the drug
•    Aristada
o    Long acting injectable for schizophrenia
o    Strong revenue growth
o    Expect market share to grow from 5.8% to 9.9%
•    Some optionality in other drugs under development
o    Vumerity – novel oral fumerate for the treatment of multiple sclerosis
o    ALKS 3831- efficacy of olanzapine (Zyprexa) without the associate weight gain
o    ALKS 4230 – novel selective IL-2 fusion protein; more early stage
•    Valuation
o     4 different scenarios of value: currently approved drugs, +Vumerity, +3831, +Vumerity and 3831

Mike Wilkins, Kingsford Capital Management (short-only firm)

Idea: Shorts and frauds

•    Focused on shorting pump and dump schemes
•    Large flows into passive investing creates opportunity
•    Russell 2000 inclusion is very rules based and rebalances in May– if you can get to $150million market cap, index will include you with no regard to if it is a legitimate company
•    Russell 2000 stock promotions – get into index in May and then get ETFs to buy in June and then dump the stock after
•    Several fraudsters have taken advantage of the Russell 2000 fraud including Jason Galanis, Benjamin Wey, Howard Appel
•    Class of 2019 potential frauds – gained admission to Russell 2000 in June but have not gone to zero yet
o    YCBD – merged with Level Branding to get listed on NYSE
o    Pareteum: telecom
o    Wrap Technologies: next gen solution for non lethal law enforcement

Mark Yusko, Morgan Creek Capital Management

Macro Idea: Don’t Cry, It’s Me Argentina

•    Argentina – very low % of their GDP is equitized versus the US which is very high; bullish on long term prospects for Argentina
•    Investors fled Argentina when they should have been buying
•    Argentina Stock Picks
o    Pampa Energy is top stock pick to play this thesis
o    Argentinian banks
o    YPF is a double play on Argentinian shale

Carl Kawaja, Capital World Investors

Idea: D. R. Horton (DHI)

•    Largest homebuilder by volume in the US with over 55k homes sold in 2018
•    Housing market has room for growth
•    Best in class operator
•    Changing their business model that will make it more valuable
•    Limits on credit have driven slower but steady growth in housing
•    Home ownership will continue to become more attractive as mortgage rates fall alongside interest rate
•    Much better deal to buy versus rent in many of DR Horton’s markets
•    Industry leading ROE
•    DR Horton wants to be more like NVR
•    DHI made a strategic shift to focus on lower priced homes with Express Homes and tilts more to the lower end of the market versus competition
•    Trying to transition to a business model that is less capital intensive by using land options
•    Asset light model yields much higher NPV and IRR
•    Should trade closer to other asset light home builders like NVR

Be sure to also check out notes from Next Wave Sohn San Francisco featuring emerging managers and their ideas.

Next Wave Sohn San Francisco Notes 2019: Perkins, Sinantha, Venkatesan, Weldon

We're posting up notes from the Sohn San Francisco Investment Conference which featured hedge fund managers sharing their latest investment ideas to benefit charity.  The Next Wave segment featured emerging managers Stephen Perkins (Toronado Capital), Touk Sinantha (AltraVue Capital), Raj Venkatesan (Trinity Alps Capital), and Christopher Weldon (Stamina Capital).

We've also posted up notes from the main event of Sohn San Francisco so be sure to check that out as well.

Notes from Next Wave Sohn San Francisco 2019

Stephen Perkins, Toronado Capital Management

Idea: Blackline (BL)

•    Software business models are great but software is not undiscovered anymore
•    Blackline (BL) – software company modernizing finance and accounting processes for mid-size enterprises
•    Replaces excel with a vast process improvement
•    Strong user growth – 19% CAGR in users from 2015- Q2 2019
•    SAP relationship will help drive future growth
•    Market is large and underpenetrated and little competition
•    Strong renewal rates at 97-98% dollar retention over last 5 years
•    Founder led with the founder owning ~10% of the company
•    Competition is really thin
•    Focus on this one part of the enterprise is a competitive advantage

Touk Sinantha, AltraVue Capital – value investing firm

Idea: SIGA Technologies (SIGA)– Specialty Pharma

•    Post bankruptcy microcap
•    Focused on biodefense and only company with vaccine for Small Pox
•    US and Russia continue to keep stock of the virus and possible to recreate the virus synthetically
•    Siga was a good business that went bankrupt because of legal fight over acquisition by another company
•    Continue to provide Small Pox vaccine to national stockpile
•    Stock became orphaned for a number of reasons
•    $600mm BARDA contract
•    Core value estimated at $7 per share or ~30% upside
•    Optionality:
o    International sales: ~$4 per share
o    TPOXX Label expansion: $2 value
o    New products: $0 value
•    Sum of the core value and potential upside value = $7+$4+$2= $13 per share
•    Risks: BARDA funding risk, Capital allocation risk, new competition, liability risk

Raj Venkatesan, Trinity Alps Capital Partners (long only, global and sector agnostic)

Idea: Afya (Brazil – but trades as an ADR)

•    Focused on medical education
•    Good reform happening in Brazil that are tailwinds to the business
•    Population in Brazil is aging and healthcare spend is growing at low double digits
•    Low number of doctors on a per capital basis and applicants/openings for med schools have declined
•    70% of medical education in Brazil is private
•    Path to become a doctor and specialist is long (like the US)
•    Earnings power of a specialist doctor is very high
•    Payback for general physician education is 5 years
•    Pure play way to play medicine in Brazil
•    Multiple growth levers:
o    TAM doubles in 5 years to R$32B
o    Roll up strategy
o    Regulated brownfield and greenfield growth opps
o    Asset light monetization of content  - vertical and horizontal
•    Value: Think Afya is a double
•    Risks: Macro/currency, regulatory framework, Recent IPO/limited history

Christopher Weldon, Stamina Capital ($200mm AUM, 3 years in)

Idea: Adyen long (3 year double)

•    Payment processor/merchant acquirer based out of the Netherlands
•    Visa is a good case study for Adyen – great operating leverage as revenue and costs are completely unrelated
•    Lowest cost operator
•    Value: believe it can double in 3 years driven by ~35% revenue, >50% FCF CAGR
•    Displacing legacy merchant acquirers given cost advantage: First Data and WorldPays of the world
•    Growth levers:
o    Customers growing quickly
o    Wallet share gains
o    New customers
o    New services
•    Digital payments are a secular share gainer in global transactions
•    Very large TAM of $25 trillion card based payments
•    Base case: +80% upside; Reward Case: +250%; Risk case: -25%

Click here to also read notes from the main event of Sohn San Francisco.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

What We're Reading ~ 10/16/19

The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of Walt Disney [Bob Iger]

The active manager paradox: high-conviction overweight positions [CFA Institute]

In-depth piece on Amazon: Jeff Bezos's master plan [The Atlantic]

How cloud gaming will and won't disrupt [Matthew Ball]

A look at TradeDesk [Greytab Investments]

A pitch on Interactive Brokers [Barrons]

On unsustainable consumer subsidies in the new app world [The Atlantic]

Recent commentary from Bill Nygren [Oakmark]

Top 20 business transformations of the last decade [HBR]

TJMaxx prices, experience make it immune to Amazon [Business Insider]

T. Boone Pickens on what made him successful [Twitter]

How baseball cards got weird [The Atlantic]

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

New Graham & Doddsville Issue: Pabrai, Moroz, Carr, Peterson & More

Columbia Business School is out with the Fall 2019 issue of its Graham & Doddsville newsletter.  It features interviews with Mohnish Pabrai (Pabrai Investment Funds), Paul Moroz (Mawer Investment Management), Ellen Carr (Weaver C. Barksdale), and Matthew Peterson (Peterson Capital).

These managers talk about names such as Wolters Kluwer, Alphabet (GOOG), Constellation Software (CSU.TO), GrafTech (EAF), DailyJournal (DJCO), and more.

The issue also features student investment pitches from the Pershing Square Challenge, including long Aramark (ARMK), long ServiceMaster (SERV), long US Foods (USFD).

Embedded below is the Fall 2019 issue of Graham & Doddsville:

You can download a .pdf copy here.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Sohn San Francisco Investment Conference: One Week Away

The Sohn San Francisco Investment Conference is just one week away.  It features hedge fund managers sharing their latest investment ideas to benefit charity.  It benefits the Excellence in Investing for Children's Causes Foundation and a portion of the proceeds also go to The Sohn Conference Foundation.  You can get more details about the event here.

Sohn San Francisco 2019 Event Details

When: October 16th, 11:30am to 6pm
Where: Hyatt Regency San Francisco
Schedule: Networking & buffet lunch, 'Next Wave' speakers, main event speakers, finished with a cocktail reception

Sohn San Francisco Speakers List

Main Event

Connor Browne, Thornburg Investment Management

Glen Kacher, Light Street Capital

Carl M. Kawaja, Capital World Investors

Debbie McCoy, Blackrock

Michael McLochlin, Highland Capital Management

Adam Fisher, Commonwealth Asset Management

Kevin Oram, Praesidium Investment Management

Myron Scholes, Janus Henderson Investors

Gil Simon, SoMa Equity Partners

Mike Wilkins, Kingsford Capital

Mark Yusko, Morgan Creek Capital Management

Next Wave Sohn Emerging Manager Speakers

Stephen Perkins, CFA, Toronado Capital Management

Touk Sinantha, CFA, AltraVue Capital

Raj D. Venkatesan, Trinity Alps Capital Partners

Christopher Weldon, Stamina Capital

Click here to register for the conference.  This is always a great event so be sure to register before next week!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

What We're Reading ~ 9/18/19

Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber [Mike Isaac]

Inside the rise and fall of MoviePass [Business Insider]

Interview with Shopify's COO [Barrons]

Talking types of moats with Pat Dorsey [Outlook Business]

Profile of UiPath's Daniel Dines: the bot billionaire [Forbes]

Value investing's heady days aren't coming back [Institutional Investor]

A look at Berkshire Hathaway [Morningstar]

The economics of meal delivery [The Economist]

On Amazon's balance between reinvestment and harvesting [Stratechery]

Less than half of Google searches now result in a click [SparkToro]

On McCormick's spices resurgence [Forbes]

A profile of Unilever's old CEO Paul Polman [NYTimes]

ValueAct Sells Some KKR and CBRE Group

Jeff Ubben's investment firm ValueAct Capital has been active in markets recently.  We just highlighted how they went activist on LKQ and also sold some Arcosa.  Well, they've now also revealed two other portfolio moves.

ValueAct Trims KKR Stake

First, ValueAct has filed an amended 13D with the SEC regarding its stake in KKR (KKR).  It notes they sold shares in late July and also now in early September, with the bulk of their recent sales coming on September 13th at a weighted average price of $28.23. 

Per the filing, ValueAct now owns 8.8% of the company with 48.1 million shares.

Per Yahoo Finance, KKR is "a private equity and real estate investment firm specializing in direct and fund of fund investments. It specializes in acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, management buyouts, credit special situations, growth equity, mature, mezzanine, distressed, turnaround, lower middle market and middle market investments"

ValueAct Sells Some CBRE Group

Second, Ubben's firm has filed a Form 4 with the SEC regarding its position in CBRE Group (CBRE).  They sold 3 million shares on September 12th at $53.86.  After this transaction, they now own 10.22 million shares.

Per Yahoo Finance, CBRE Group is "operates as a commercial real estate services and investment company worldwide. It operates through Americas; Europe, Middle East and Africa; Asia Pacific; Global Investment Management; and Development Services segments. The company offers strategic advice and execution to owners, investors, and occupiers of real estate in connection with leasing; integrated property sales, and mortgage and structured financing services under the CBRE Capital Markets brand; and valuation services that include market value appraisals, litigation support, discounted cash flow analyses, and feasibility studies, as well as consulting services, such as property condition reports, hotel advisory, and environmental consulting. It also provides facilities management, project management, transaction management, and strategic consulting services to occupiers of real estate; and property management services comprising construction management, marketing, building engineering, accounting, and financial services for owners of and investors in office, industrial, and retail properties. In addition, the company provides investment management services under the CBRE Global Investors brand to pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, foundations, endowments, and other institutional investors; and development services under the Trammell Crow Company brand name primarily to users of and investors in commercial real estate. CBRE Group, Inc. was founded in 1906 and is headquartered in Los Angeles, California."

Monday, September 16, 2019

Carl Icahn Boosts Hertz Position

Activist investor Carl Icahn has filed numerous documents to the SEC recently (13D's and Form 4's) regarding his position in Hertz Global (HTZ).  Per the most recent 13D, Icahn now owns 30.92% of the company with exposure to over 43.92 million shares (inclusive of 2.03 million shares underlying forward contracts).

His recent purchases also are via forward contracts.  Per the filing, Icahn acquired exposure to over 1.15 million shares via forward contracts that expire on September 8, 2021.
The price per share is listed at $14.73 and $15 in the transactions.  And the filing notes that these contracts "Represents a forward price of $12 per Share, plus the amount per Share the Reporting Person paid the counterparty to the forward contract upon entering into such forward contract. The forward price is subject to adjustment to account for any dividends or other distributions declared by the Issuer. In addition, the Reporting Person paid a financing charge to the counterparty to such forward contract."

ValueAct Reveals Activist LKQ Stake, Sells Some Arcosa

Jeff Ubben's activist investment firm ValueAct Capital has filed a couple of 13D's with the SEC recently.

ValueAct Reveals Activist LKQ Stake

First, per a 13D regarding shares of LKQ Corp (LKQ), ValueAct now owns 5.2% of LKQ with over 16.03 million shares as of September 3rd.  This is a brand new position for the firm.

The filing indicates they were out buying shares throughout August and into early September with weighted average purchase prices coming between $24.91 and $27.49. 

The 13D also includes this note regarding their stake: "The Reporting Persons have had and anticipate having further discussions with officers and directors of the Issuer in connection with the Reporting Persons' investment in the Issuer. The topics of these conversations have covered or will cover a range of issues, including those relating to the business of the Issuer, management, board composition (which include whether it makes sense for a ValueAct Capital employee to be on the Issuer's board of directors), investor communications, operations, capital allocation, dividend policy, financial condition, mergers and acquisitions strategy, overall business strategy, executive compensation, and corporate governance."

Per Google Finance, LKQ "distributes replacement parts, components, and systems used in the repair and maintenance of vehicles. It operates in three segments: North America, Europe, and Specialty. The company distributes bumper covers, automotive body panels, and lights, as well as automotive glass products, such as windshields; salvage products, including mechanical and collision parts comprising engines; transmissions; door assemblies; sheet metal products, such as trunk lids, fenders, and hoods; lights and bumper assemblies; scrap metal and other materials to metals recyclers; and brake pads, discs and sensors, clutches, steering and suspension products, filters, and oil and automotive fluids, as well as electrical products, including spark plugs and batteries."

ValueAct Sells Some Arcosa Shares

Second, in a separately amended 13D, ValueAct has disclosed it has sold some Arcosa (ACA).  Per the 13D, the fund sold shares on September 9th through 13th at weighted average prices of around $34.50.

After the sales, ValueAct still owns 5% of the company with over 2.41 million shares.

Per Yahoo Finance, Arcosa "manufactures and sells infrastructure-related products and services for the construction, energy, and transportation markets. It operates through three segments: Construction Products Group, Energy Equipment Group, and Transportation Products Group. The Construction Products Group segment offers lightweight and natural construction aggregates, and trench shields and shoring products that are used in construction landscape, including commercial, industrial, road and bridge, and underground construction. It serves concrete producers; commercial, residential, industrial, and highway contractors; manufacturers of masonry products; state and local governments; and equipment rental dealers. The Energy Equipment Group segment provides structural wind towers for wind turbine producers; steel utility structures for electricity transmission and distribution; and pressurized and non-pressurized storage and distribution containers that store and transport various products, such as propane, anhydrous ammonia, and natural gas liquids. The Transportation Products Group segment offers hopper barges, tank barges, fiberglass covers, hatches, castings, and winches for commercial marine transportation companies and industrial shippers; axles, circular forgings, and coupling devices for freight, tank, locomotive, and passenger rail transportation equipment, as well as for other industrial uses; and cast components for use in the industrial and mining sectors. The company is headquartered in Dallas, Texas."

Tiger Global Still Buying Sunrun, Amends 13D Filing

As we've detailed previously, Chase Coleman's hedge fund firm Tiger Global has been out buying shares of Sunrun (RUN) in recent weeks.  In an amended 13D filing with the SEC, Tiger Global has now disclosed they own 22.2% of the company with over 26.05 million shares.

Their recent activity includes buying on September 9th through 11th at weighted average prices of around $15.093.

Per Yahoo Finance, Sunrun "engages in the design, development, installation, sale, ownership, and maintenance of residential solar energy systems in the United States. It also sells solar energy systems and products, such as panels and racking, as well as solar leads generated to customers. The company markets and sells its products through direct-to-consumer approach across online, retail, mass media, digital media, canvassing, field marketing, and referral channels, as well as its partner network. Sunrun Inc. was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California."

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Discount to Value Invest New York Conference 2019

Value Invest New York
December 3rd 2019
The Times Center 

$700 discount using code: marketfolly-sept19
Expires September 30th

The conference speaker line-up includes Joel Greenblatt, Alex Roepers, Tom Russo, Michael Mauboussin, C.T. Fitzpatrick, Richard Chilton, David Samra and many others - see the full speaker line-up below or on the Value Invest New York website.

As a partner offer, the organizers have offered MarketFolly readers a $700 discount on a ticket to attend if booked before September 30th.  (There's also a full refund if you cancel by November 1st.)

Speakers at the conference will provide valuable insights into the methods and approaches that have made them successful, comment on the investment climate and other specific investment ideas - the top performing investment ideas presented at the 2018 conference are below:

*calculated with prices correct as of September 9th 2019

You can also see the long-term performance of the stocks presented at the London Value Investor Conference since 2012 on the London Value Investor Conference website.

If you have any questions about Value Invest New York please direct them to the organizers at

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Baupost Group Increases Translate Bio Stake

Seth Klarman's investment firm Baupost Group has filed a 13G with the SEC regarding its position in Translate Bio (TBIO).  Per the filing, Baupost now owns 24.06% of the company with over 12.27 million shares as of August 31st.  This is up from the 8.84 million shares they disclosed as of the end of June.

Per Yahoo Finance, Translate Bio is "a clinical-stage messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics company, develops medicines to treat diseases caused by protein or gene dysfunction. The company is developing MRT5005, which is in Phase I/II clinical trial for the treatment of cystic fibrosis; and MRT5201 to treat ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency. It has a collaboration and license agreement with Sanofi Pasteur Inc. to develop mRNA vaccines for up to five infectious disease pathogens. The company was formerly known as RaNA Therapeutics, Inc. and changed its name to Translate Bio, Inc. in June 2017. Translate Bio, Inc. was founded in 2011 and is headquartered in Lexington, Massachusetts."

Paulson & Co Files 13D on Callon Petroleum, Opposes Carizzo Oil Acquisition

John Paulson's hedge fund firm Paulson & Co has filed a 13D with the SEC regarding shares of Callon Petroleum (CPE).  Per the filing, Paulson now owns 9.5% of the company with over 21.59 million shares.  This is a brand new position for the hedge fund as they did not report any shares on their most recent 13F filing which discloses portfolios as of June 30th.

Paulson has gone activist and sent the board of directors a letter highlighting they oppose the acquisition of Carizzo Oil & Gas.  Paulson outlines a few reasons for their position: 1) Callon stock is down 36% since acquisition's announcement, 2) Co is offering an unwarranted premium to Carrizo, 3) Callon shareholders would be diluted, 4) Callon would no longer be a premium pure-play company, 5) Callon could be worth over 60%+ in a takeover, 6) Permian basin pure-plays remain attractive acquisition targets.  They go on to list other reasons as well.

Paulson & Co's Letter to Callon Petroleum

Embedded below is Paulson & Co's letter in its entirety.

You can also access it here.

Tiger Global Still Buying Sunrun Shares

Chase Coleman's hedge fund firm Tiger Global has filed yet another Form 4 with the SEC indicating their activity in Sunrun (RUN) shares.  As we've detailed previously, Tiger Global has been out buying RUN shares and they've continued to do so into September.

The latest filing indicates they were out buying 654,011 shares in total across September 4th through 6th with the bulk at weighted average prices of $15.247 and $15.501.

After these recent buys, Tiger Global now owns over 25.2 million shares of Sunrun.

Farallon Capital Shows DermTech Stake

Andrew Spokes' hedge fund firm Farallon Capital has filed a 13G with the SEC regarding shares of DermTech (DMTK).  Per the filing, Farallon now owns 9.8% of DermTech as of August 29th with exposure to over 1.23 million shares. 

Their stake is comprised of 615,385 shares and they also hold "Series A Preferred Shares (as defined in the Preliminary Note) convertible into an aggregate of 615,385 shares."

DermTech shares have been extremely volatile, plummeting from $21.69 in late August to around $5 by the end of the month.

Per Yahoo Finance, DermTech is "a molecular genomics company, develops and markets novel non-invasive diagnostic tests to diagnosis skin cancer and related conditions in the United States. The company offers Pigmented Lesion Assay (PLA), a gene expression test that helps rule out melanoma and the need for a surgical biopsy of atypical pigmented lesions. It also provides Nevome test, an adjunctive reflex test for the PLA; and adhesive skin sample collection kits, as well as gene expression assays for the Th1, Th2, IFN-gamma, and Th17 inflammatory pathways. The company sells its products to pathology and oncology practitioners. DermTech, Inc. was incorporated in 1995 and is headquartered in La Jolla, California."

Elliott Management Goes Activist on AT&T

Paul Singer's hedge fund firm Elliott Management has gone activist on AT&T (T), sending a letter to the board to outline what they feel is a 'compelling value-creation opportunity.  Elliott now owns $3.2 billion worth of shares and they see 65% upside to recent trading levels.

Elliott writes, "Elliott  made the investment in AT&T – among  its largest ever – because it exhibits a unique combination of historical underperformance,   a  depressed  valuation,  well-positioned  assets and  a clear path forward to generate extraordinary  value  for shareholders and other stakeholders."

Elliott's Letter to AT&T

Embedded below is Elliott's Letter & Presentation on AT&T.  It includes numerous charts and highlights T's valuation as well as struggling business lines:

You can also visit the website they've setup:

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

What We're Reading ~ 9/4/19

Certain to Win: The strategy of John Boyd, applied to business [Chet Richards]

The commoditization of information [Geoff Yamane]

Position sizing: why conviction matters [Intrinsic Investing]

The problem with believing what we're told [WSJ]

How a Canadian firm has taken on Wall Street's private equity titans [Economist]

Research on the financial performance of collectibles [Alpha Architect]

Peloton is a phenomenon: can it last? [NYTimes]

A skeptical look at Peloton churn [Inquisitive Investor]

Peloton bikes are the real deal [The Margins]

How Amazon's shipping empire is challenging UPS & FedEx [WSJ]

Amazon's next-day delivery has brought chaos and carnage to streets [BuzzfeedNews]

The man behind the biggest beauty brands in the world [Coveteur]

Aston Martin tried to replicate Ferrari's IPO success but shares are down 75% [Fortune]

On the importance of broadcasting income to European football clubs [Swiss Ramble]

5 lessons from Microsoft's antitrust woes by people who lived it [NYTimes]

Tiger Global Continues To Buy Sunrun

Chase Coleman's hedge fund firm Tiger Global has filed yet another Form 4 with the SEC regarding their ownership of Sunrun (RUN).  We previously detailed last week how they were out buying RUN shares

Per the latest filing, Tiger Global was out acquiring more shares on August 29th, 30th, as well as September 3rd.  In total, they purchased 627,439 shares at weighted average prices of between $14.705 and $15.365.  After these buys, they now own over 24.55 million shares.

Per Yahoo Finance, Sunrun "engages in the design, development, installation, sale, ownership, and maintenance of residential solar energy systems in the United States. It also sells solar energy systems and products, such as panels and racking, as well as solar leads generated to customers. The company markets and sells its products through direct-to-consumer approach across online, retail, mass media, digital media, canvassing, field marketing, and referral channels, as well as its partner network. Sunrun Inc. was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California."

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

TCI Fund Boosts Canadian Pacific Railway Stake

Sir Chris Hohn's TCI Fund management has filed an amended 13G with the SEC regarding its position in Canadian Pacific Railway (CP).  Per the filing, TCI Fund now owns 7.62% of the company with over 10.56 million shares as of August 23rd. 

This is up from the previous 10.15 million shares they owned at the end of June.  TCI has bought CP shares for seven consecutive quarters and their stake is now worth almost $2.5 billion.  They originally initiated the position in the first quarter of 2018.

It should also be noted that Hohn's firm also owns stakes in other railroads, such as Canadian National (CNI ~ $1.75 billion worth) and Union Pacific (UNP ~ $800 million worth), but their stake in CP is the most sizable.

Per Yahoo Finance, Canadian Pacific Railway "owns and operates a transcontinental freight railway in Canada and the United States. The company transports bulk commodities, including grain, coal, potash, fertilizers, and sulphur; and merchandise freight, such as energy, chemicals and plastics, metals, minerals and consumer, automotive, and forest products. It also transports intermodal traffic comprising retail goods in overseas containers. The company offers rail and intermodal transportation services through a network of approximately 12,500 miles serving business centers in Quebec and British Columbia, Canada; and the United States Northeast and Midwest regions. Canadian Pacific Railway Limited was founded in 1881 and is headquartered in Calgary, Canada."

Friday, August 30, 2019

Lone Pine Capital Adds To Dominos Pizza Stake

Steve Mandel's hedge fund firm Lone Pine Capital has filed a 13G with the SEC regarding its stake in Dominos Pizza (DPZ).  Per the filing, Lone Pine now owns 5% of Dominos Pizza with over 2.07 million shares as of August 20th. 

This is up from the 1.24 million shares Lone Pine disclosed at the end of June when they established a new stake in the company.  DPZ shares have fallen from a high of $285 at the end of Q2 to recent lows around $226.

As a reminder, Steve Mandel stepped down from day-to-day management of the portfolio and handed those duties off to managers Dave Craver, Mala Gaonkar, and Kelly Granat (though others are also now listed on the SEC filings).

Per Yahoo Finance, Dominos Pizza "through its subsidiaries, operates as a pizza delivery company in the United States and internationally. It operates in three segments: U.S. Stores, International Franchise, and Supply Chain. The company offers pizzas under the Domino's brand name through company-owned and franchised stores. As of August 20, 2019, it operated through approximately 16,300 stores in 85 markets. The company was founded in 1960 and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan."

Dr. Michael Burry Buys More Tailored Brands, Sends Letter to Board

Dr. Michael Burry of Scion Asset Management has been busy lately.  We previously detailed how he re-built a stake in Gamestop (GME) and sent a letter to the board.  Well, he has now also just filed a 13D on shares of Tailored Brands (TLRD), which he's owned and previously also sent letters to the board.

The new filing indicates Burry has boosted his TLRD position, buying throughout August at prices of around $4.7145 and $4.8282.  In total, Scion Asset now owns 5.1% of the company with 2.6 million shares.  This is up from his previous stake of 1.85 million shares at the end of June.

Dr. Michael Burry Sends New Letter to Tailored Brands Board

Burry also sent a new letter to the board dated August 30th where he addresses rumors that Sycamore Partners had approached the company about an acquisition at around $10 per share.  Burry writes, "We do not know if any of this is true.  However, we believe you must know that $10 per share is not fair value and will not be acceptable to shareholders."

Later Burry goes on to write, "With some urgency, we stand by our letters of August 2nd and 19th. Given the quarter-century lows in the common stock and the severe undervaluation this entails, we believe the best use of funds from the corporate apparel segment sale, in good part or in full, is for a share repurchase.While management is considering asset sales, we would encourage exploring the market for Tailored’s Canadian operations. The Board and management ought to focus resources on its core 1300+ store U.S. operations. Proceeds from a sale of these remaining international operations may also be best used to accelerate debt repayment and stock buybacks."

He's previously sent two other letters to the board which you can read here and here.

Per Yahoo Finance, Tailored Brands "operates as a specialty apparel retailer the United States and Canada. It operates through two segments, Retail and Corporate Apparel. The Retail segment offers suits, suit separates, sport coats, slacks, formalwear, business casual, denim, sportswear, outerwear, dress shirts, shoes, and accessories for men. It also provides women's career and casual apparel, sportswear, and accessories; children's apparel; and alteration services. As of February 2, 2019, this segment operated 1,464 stores under the Men's Wearhouse, Men's Wearhouse and Tux, Jos. A. Bank, Moores, Joseph Abboud, and K&G brands. The Corporate Apparel segment provides corporate apparel uniforms and work wear to workforces under the Dimensions, Alexandra, Yaffy, and Twin Hill brands through various channels, including managed corporate accounts and catalogs, as well as through,, and Internet sites. This segment serves companies and organizations in the airline, retail grocery, retail, banking, quick service restaurant, car rental, distribution, travel and leisure, postal, security, healthcare, and public sectors. The company was formerly known as The Men's Wearhouse, Inc. and changed its name to Tailored Brands, Inc. in February 2016. Tailored Brands, Inc. was founded in 1973 and is based in Houston, Texas."

JANA Partners Buys Bloomin' Brands, FIles 13D

Barry Rosenstein's hedge fund firm JANA Partners has filed a 13D on shares of Bloomin' Brands (BLMN).  Per the filing, JANA now owns 9% of the company with over 7.81 million shares.  This is a brand new stake for the firm.

JANA was buying throughout August at with the bulk of their recent purchases coming at prices of around $16.08 and $16.21. 

The 13D contains the standard boilerplate:

"The Reporting Person acquired the Shares because it believes the Shares are undervalued and represent an attractive investment opportunity. The Reporting Person intends to have discussions with the Issuer’s board of directors and management regarding a sale of the Issuer, divestitures, capital allocation, operations and board composition. The Reporting Person expects to have discussions with the Issuer’s management and board of directors, shareholders and other interested parties relating to such matters."

Per Yahoo Finance, Bloomin' Brands, Inc., "through its subsidiaries, owns and operates casual, upscale casual, and fine dining restaurants in the United States and internationally. The company operates through two segments, U.S. and International. Its restaurant portfolio has four concepts, including Outback Steakhouse, a casual steakhouse restaurant; Carrabba's Italian Grill, a casual Italian restaurant; Bonefish Grill, an upscale casual seafood restaurant; and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, a contemporary steakhouse. As of December 30, 2018, the company owned and operated 1,068 restaurants and franchised 164 restaurants across 48 states; and owned and operated 125 restaurants and franchised 131 restaurants across 20 countries, Puerto Rico and Guam. Bloomin' Brands, Inc. was incorporated in 2006 and is headquartered in Tampa, Florida."

Hedge Fund Links ~ 8/30/19

The stock picker versus portfolio manager communications challenge [Harvest]

Good writers make better hedge fund managers [Institutional Investor]

Hedge funds take record short positions against Aston Martin [FT]

Viking Global curbs investor redemptions to aid VC push [FT]

Third Point builds stake in Essilor Luxottica [Reuters]

Quick interview with Michael Burry on Gamestop [Barrons]

Why Mario Cibelli likes GrubHub, Becle & e.l.f. [Barrons]

Notes from a recent trip to China [Cederberg Capital]

Hedge fund Saba Capital spars with BlackRock and Neuberger [WSJ]

A look back: the Bloomberg keyboard [Bloomberg]

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Hillhouse Capital's Lei Zhang Talk at Goldman Sachs (Notes & Video)

Lei Zhang of Hillhouse Capital recently had a talk at Goldman Sachs filmed at the Builders + Innovators Summit in Asia.  Zhang runs one of the most prominent funds in Asia after starting with $20 million from Yale University and now growing into a $60 billion firm.

Lei Zhang's Talk at Goldman Sachs 2019

- He says entrepreneurship is about doing something you love, not doing what's trendy or for the money

- Unbelievable change and opportunities created in China over the past 30 years; highlights Chinese people's drive

- Hillhouse was named after the street at Yale Endowment where he previously worked, but in Chinese it also refers to a high vantage point of being able to see everything.  He says Hillhouse is a blend of eastern and western philosophies: being a long-term investor, being thoughtful, entrepreneurship.  Has 45 people on his team.  "We believe you do the right things, you build your reputation, you stand up for what you believe in... and entrepreneurs will find you."

- On what he looks for in people:  persistence, smart, teamwork.  But he emphasizes empathy and the ability to connect with people who are different from you.  Lifetime learning is also essential and not to learn to make more money but a genuine desire to learn.  Also added humility is a great trait.  He likes entrepreneurs who build a culture like a sports team... it's like family but you want to win.

-  "One of the most exciting things of investing in China is you're always embracing change.  And one of the most fascinating changes in the past has been the consumer internet."  First wave was Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba, but the core was connection (people to information, people, and goods).  Now the second wave is coming "Innovation 2.0" it's not just about connection, it's about leveraging AI, SaaS, lots of vision.  Likened it to the industrial internet.

- Belle shoe retailer was being attacked on all sides (especially with e-commerce from JD and Alibaba, etc).   Hillhouse invested and 3 years later it's seen double digit growth.  For instance, they made changes like put a sensor that could tell them that x shoe was getting picked up a ton of times but no one was buying it, so they can make changes faster.  They also brought in a lean manufacturing process (Danaher).  This helped with inventory so they had less to discount which helped maintain the brand.

-  "In investing at a Hillhouse level, we're always joking the best investment is the investment you don't have to think about (an) exit." 

Embedded below is the video of Lei Zhang's talk:

For more on this manager, we've also highlighted Lei Zhang old lecture at Columbia Business School.

Glenview Capital Acquires More Tenet Healthcare

Larry Robbins' hedge fund firm Glenview Capital has filed a Form 4 with the SEC regarding shares of Tenet Healthcare (THC).  Per the filing, Glenview bought 81,368 shares on August 23rd at a weighted average price of $20.6965.  They now own over 19.43 million shares.

In a previous filing, they also were out buying on August 16th, purchasing 26,456 shares at a weighted average price of $19.8153.

Per Yahoo Finance, Tenet Healthcare is "a diversified healthcare services company. The company operates in three segments: Hospital Operations and Other, Ambulatory Care, and Conifer. Its general hospitals offer acute care services, operating and recovery rooms, radiology and respiratory therapy services, clinical laboratories, and pharmacies. The company also provides intensive and critical care, and coronary care units; physical therapy, orthopedic, oncology, and outpatient services; cardiothoracic surgery, neonatal intensive care, and neurosurgery services; quaternary care in heart, liver, kidney, and bone marrow transplants areas; tertiary and quaternary pediatric, and burn services; and limb-salvaging vascular procedures, acute level 1 trauma services, intravascular stroke care, minimally invasive cardiac valve replacement, imaging technology, and telemedicine access for various medical specialties. In addition, it operates ambulatory surgery and urgent care centers, imaging centers, and surgical hospitals; and offers healthcare business process services in the areas of hospital and physician revenue cycle management, as well as value-based care solutions to healthcare systems, individual hospitals, physician practices, self-insured organizations, health plans, and other entities. As of December 31, 2018, the company operated 68 hospitals, 23 surgical hospitals, and approximately 475 outpatient centers, as well as 255 ambulatory surgery, 36 urgent care, and 23 imaging centers in the United States. Tenet Healthcare Corporation was founded in 1967 and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas."

Dr. Michael Burry Long Gamestop: Sends Letter to Board

Dr. Michael Burry of Scion Asset Management and of The Big Short fame has recently re-surfaced in shares of Gamestop (GME).  He previously owned shares earlier this year but sold out in the second quarter per his latest 13F filing as of June 30th.    However, he has re-established a stake in the company as shares plunged, now owning around 3.05% of the company with approximately 3 million shares.

Burry argues the company should buyback a ton of stock given the limited float.  This has been a popular short among hedge funds which view it as 'Blockbuster 2.0' and recently, as much as 60% of GME's shares have been sold short.

Tae Kim over at Barron's scored a rare interview with Burry on his GME long, which you can check out here.  Burry noted that the new gaming console cycle "is going to extend GameStop's life significantly. The streaming narrative dovetailing with the cycle is creating a perfect storm where things look terrible.  [But] it looks worse than it really is."

Scion's Letter to Gamestop Board

Below is the full text of the letter Dr. Burry sent Gamestop:

"August 16, 2019

Dear Members of the Board,Scion Asset Management, LLC and its affiliates (“Scion”) own approximately 2,750,000 shares, or about 3.05%, of GameStop, Inc. (“GameStop”) common stock.

As mentioned in our previous letter to the board, we have concerns regarding capital management at GameStop. Given recent GameStop common stock prices under $4 per share, we must re-state that GameStop complete the remaining $237,600,000 share repurchase at once and with urgency.

Given the market capitalization of GameStop at $290 million at the close on August 15th, completing the authorization would retire over 80% of GameStop’s outstanding shares. Depending on the timing and quality of execution, such a repurchase would increase earnings per share dramatically - far more than any other possible action on a per share basis.

The numbers are striking and demand action. We estimate that GameStop now has in excess of $480 million of cash, more than enough to complete the share repurchase authorization and still invest in the business and pay down debt.

Through August 15th, a total of 11 trading days, 50,399,534 shares have traded. At this rate, for the month of August and for the third month in a row, the number of shares traded will exceed the total number of shares outstanding. Because of such high volume, we maintain that GameStop could pull off perhaps the most consequential and shareholder-friendly buyback in stock market history with elegance and stealth.

Shareholders staring at all-time lows in GameStop stock see little evidence that GameStop has effectively leveraged its elite position in the gaming universe as the new paradigm came into clear view over the last five years.

The unfortunate reality is that Amazon, not GameStop, bought Twitch in 2014. Instead, in 2014, GameStop started buying wireless store assets. And in 2017, Amazon, not GameStop, bought GameSparks - while less than a year ago GameStop reversed course and sold its wireless store assets. Shareholders are right to worry.

We expect GameStop’s business will perk up a bit during 2020 and 2021 as the new console cycle, with associated software updates and introductions, finally gets underway. But what is happening now in the stock is about more than late cycle doldrums or even the streaming paradigm – shareholders do not have faith in current management, and have not been inspired by new leadership policies.

Notably, as of July 31st, 2019, Bloomberg reports short interest in GameStop stock at 57,226,706 shares – this is about 63% of the 90,268,940 outstanding GameStop shares at last report.

We submit that when share prices are at or near all-time lows and more than 60% of the shares are shorted despite cash levels much higher than the current market capitalization, lack of faith in management’s capital allocation is the default conclusion.

All of this creates the opportunity to enter 2020 with a dramatically reduced share count along with multi-fold greater impact per share for every single other achievement of management. Consider as just one example that if the turnaround is successful, and if GameStop were able to shrink its shares outstanding to 30 million through the share repurchase, the $157 million dividend that was just eliminated would pay out around $5.25 per share.

The Board deemed up to $6.00 per share a good price for a buyback less than two months ago, and the price of the stock today is nearly half that amount.

We again advise the Board to represent shareholders well, and to ensure the execution of the remaining repurchase authorization in full.


Dr. Michael J. Burry"

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

What We're Reading ~ 8/28/19

The network effects manual: 13 different types [NFX]

A look at Wells Fargo (WFC) [Sabre Capital]

SmileDirectClub's IPO highlights promises, pitfalls for DTC companies [Modern Retail]

How the recession of 2020 could happen [NYTimes]

Framework for evaluating enterprise software companies [Shomik Ghosh]

How Elon Musk gambled Tesla to save Solar City [Vanity Fair]

Streaming video will soon look like the bad old days of TV [Matthew Ball]

LaCroix won the bubble battle, but it's losing the sparkling water war [Bloomberg]

How Uber got lost [NYTimes]

The making of Amazon Prime [Vox]

China internet report [SCMP]

The real story of the brand Supreme [GQ]

Red flags on the WeWork IPO: WeWTF [Prof Galloway]

WeWork as the AWS of real estate? [Stratechery]

Harry Markopolos' write-up on General Electric [GEFraud]

Tiger Global Buys More Sunrun

Chase Coleman's hedge fund firm Tiger Global has filed a 13D with the SEC regarding its stake in Sunrun (RUN).  Per the filing, Tiger Global now owns 20.4% of the company with over 23.93 million shares.

They were out buying shares through mid-to-late August and in total have purchased over 2.01 million shares with the bulk coming at weighted average prices of $14.98 and $15.07.

Per Yahoo Finance, Sunrun "engages in the design, development, installation, sale, ownership, and maintenance of residential solar energy systems in the United States. It also sells solar energy systems and products, such as panels and racking, as well as solar leads generated to customers. The company markets and sells its products through direct-to-consumer approach across online, retail, mass media, digital media, canvassing, field marketing, and referral channels, as well as its partner network. Sunrun Inc. was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California."

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

New 13F Summary Newsletter Just Released: Top Hedge Fund Portfolios

The brand new Q2 2019 issue of our quarterly newsletter is now available.  It reveals the latest portfolios of top hedge funds and summarizes their new 13F filings.

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Inside the Brand New Q2 Issue

- Updated consensus buy/sell lists of the most popular hedge fund trades in Q2

- Reveals the latest portfolios of 25 top hedge funds (full list here): New firm added this quarter: Ruane, Cunniff & Goldfarb's Sequoia Fund replaces Lou Simpson's SQ Advisors which no longer discloses a portfolio

- Investment thesis summaries on 2 stocks that hedge funds were buying: Activision Blizzard (ATVI) and CarGurus (CARG). Quickly catch up on the current situation and bull/bear thesis on each stock

33% Discount Ends Soon

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