One year ago, SunEdison was the darling of the hedge fund world. It is now bankrupt. Moments ago, Jim Chanos revealed that (in addition to Tesla) he is also short Elon Musk's SolarCity, sending the stock sliding. But what is the bear case? Courtesy of Axiom's Gordon Johnson, here are some very specific reasons why Chanos may once again have a home run on his "short" hands.
After three years of the dollar being pretty much the only strong currency in the world, US corporate profits are falling (because it’s hard to sell things abroad when you price them in an expensive currency) and growth is slowing (because an economy can’t expand if corporate profits are falling). Presumably the plunging dollar will offer some relief on those fronts. But our relief comes at a high, potentially-catastrophic price for Japan and Europe...
Italy's bad bank bailouts fund, "Atlas", is about to become the proud new owner of around 90% of Italy's Popolare di Vicenza after investors only bought a fraction of the mid-tier bank's €1.5 billion cash call, Reuters reports. Popolare di Vicenza, which was due to announce the outcome of the public share offer later on Friday, said earlier in the day that it had raised €4.25 billion, at the lower end of a 4-6 billion euro range it had initially targeted, from 67 mostly domestic financial institutions.
The market reaction from last week’s dovish FOMC statement took many by surprise, including BofAML's HY Strategy team, but as they say the High-Yield Emperor has no clothes, warning that the underlying commentary provided by Chair Yellen shows the vulnerability for high yield issuers to longer-term growth trends. Couple the deteriorating fundamentals for HY issuers with downgrades outpacing upgrades by a ratio of 3.5:1 and a worsening of global growth potential, and they believe the recent rally, though boosted by strong inflows and cash generation, will ultimately fade.
"JP Morgan is raising equity in a company with questionable prospects and using the funds to repay debt the company owes JP Morgan. The arrangement allows JP Morgan to get its money out prior to lenders subordinated to it get their $401 million payment."
Earlier today Berkshire Hathaway released its 2015 annual report, which among other things includes Buffett's traditional annual observations and insights. Buffett brushes past last year’s disappointing stock performance, muses on the future of America while taking a swipe at Donald Trump, dwells on Berkshire’s ties to Brazilian PE firm 3G, talks about Berkshire’s big 2015 deal, defends manufactured-housing unit Clayton Homes, bashes inequality and capitalists (just not the crony kind), and concludes with a summary of the biggest risks facing America.
What we see happening today is the last gasps of a broken system ravished by the very much cancer-like progress of debt. Yes, it took longer than it should have, and than we thought. But that’s pretty much irrelevant, unless you were trying to get rich off of the downfall of your own world. Always a noble goal. There’s one reason for the delay only: central bank hubris. And now the entire shebang is falling to bits. That this would proceed in chaotic ways was always a given. People don’t know where to look first or last, neither central bankers nor investors nor anyone else.
As oil stays "lower for longer", and as many more European banks are forced to first reserve and then charge off their existing oil and gas exposure, expect much more diluation. Which, incidentlaly also explains why European bank stocks have been plunging since the beginning of the year as existing equity investors dump ahead of inevitable capital raises.
Total gross NPLs in Italy has increased by c160% since 2009 and now represents c18% of loans (vs c8% in 2009). Gross Sofferenze (eg the worst category of NPLs) are c60% of this or c€200bn. While new inflows of NPLs have decreased, there have been limited disposals, possibly due to pricing difference. Banks suffer in multiple ways due to the high stock of NPLs (profitability, capital, funding, lending, etc). The government implemented reforms last summer to improve recovery procedures (Government Proposes NPL Measures), but there is limited evidence so far of the benefit.
“Yeah well, considering you’ve got a book value of $20 billion and you haven’t reported an operating EBIT gain in the last two years, I think they’ve been lucky to get away with such a modest amount. I think they’ll be having the same discussions with their auditors in July."
Just 11 days into 2016, Goldman has been stopped out of one of its 6 "top trades for 2016" following a 5.4% loss on its "long large-cap US banks" trade as these "relatively well-priced, trading just above book value" assets turned out to be relatively unwell priced...
It is not Liquidity that banks are asking but for more Collateral from Noble starting this year because they also understand that this MTM gain on commodity contracts and derivatives of Noble will unlikely be realized at more than 10% and therefore is not valid collateral for the trader’s working capital borrowing base requirements.
My overriding theme and the central drama for the coming year is that unexpected events can take on greater importance as the Federal Reserve ends its near-decade-long Zero Interest Rate Policy. Consensus premises and forecasts will likely fall flat, in a rather spectacular manner. The low-conviction and directionless market that we saw in 2015 could become a no-conviction and very-much-directed market (i.e. one that's directed lower) in 2016. There will be no peace on earth in 2016, and our markets could lose a cushion of protection as valuations contract. (Just as "malinvestment" represented a key theme this year, we expect a compression of price-to-earnings ratios to serve as a big market driver in 2016.) In other words, we don't think 2016 will be fun.