The Fed’s serial bubble machine has not only bestowed massive speculative windfalls on the 1%, but it has also fostered a noxious culture of plunder and entitlement in the gambling casinos of Wall Street. After each thundering sell-off during the bust phase, crony capitalist gamblers have been gifted with ill-gotten windfalls during the Fed’s subsequent maniacal money printing spree. In this context comes Bruce Berkowitz “scolding” and firing “salvos” at Washington from the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
Bill Ackman helped rescue General Growth Properties (GGP) - the US 2nd largest shopping mall operator - from bankruptcy in 2009/10 as the company collapsed in the financial crisis. Ackman "turned $60 million into $1.6 billion" in the process but, according to Bloomberg, has now exited his entire position, dumping his final 28 million share back to the company via a buyback. The spin, of course, is that it's right to take profits and that GGP is now 'a much different company than it was then." However, given Ackman's knowledge of JCP (and perhaps RSH), we can't help but wonder, given all the exuberance about Fed tapering must mean the recovery is here and sustainable - just why Ackman would unload it all at such a pivotal time in the US economy...?
2013 is in the history books, and with it so are all those strategies that worked last year. As much can be seen in the performance of the marquee hedge fund names, whose performance so far in 2014, undoubtedly taking a cue from the market which in January was turmoiling over tapering and EM fears, is decidedly mixed, with about half generating negative returns, and the other just barely beating the flatline. Some notable exceptions: the woefully named Tulip Trend Fund which is already down -8.5% YTD, as well as the Keynes Leveraged Quantitative Strategies fund, down 2.9%, while on the other side Pershing Square is no longer Perishing up 4.1% through the end of the month, undoubtedly driven by the plunge of HLF in January, a move which may or may not last and likely depends on whether in the aftermath of AAPL, iCahn decides he has had enough of his game with Ackman as well.
- Only time will define Bernanke's crisis-era legacy at Fed (Reuters)
- Record Cash Leaves Emerging Market ETFs (BBG)
- Investors Look Toward Safer Options as Ground Shifts (WSJ)
- Fed Policy Makers Rally Behind Tapering QE as Yellen Era Begins (BBG)
- Rating agencies criticise China’s bailout of failed $500m trust (FT)
- Russia to await new Ukraine government before fully implementing rescue (Reuters)
- U.S. readies financial sanctions against Ukraine: congressional aides (Reuters)
- Companies resist president’s call for minimum wage rise (FT)
- Secret Swiss Funds at Risk as Italy’s Saccomanni Visits Bern (BBG)
- Top Democrat puts Obama trade deals in doubt (FT)
- Erdogan to Give Rate Increase Time Before Trying Other Plans (BBG)
After the epic fail of Pershing Square's Herbalife short, aka the stock we predicted, correctly, in January 2013 has Volkwagen-like short squeeze potential, it was only a matter of time before the analyst responsible for the trade got the boot, politely of course.
Wondering why Herbalife is down over 12% in the past few minutes? Wonder no more: moments ago Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey, who apparently has a morbid interest in protein shakes - more so than the FTC - asked for more information about the business practices of nutrition company Herbalife. Markey sent letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and to Herbalife itself to try an obtain more information, his office said in a news release on Thursday. The take home from all of this? Senator Edward Markey has an advance invite to the Pershing Square holiday ball.
Either the Volcker Rule is making Wall Street's menu of investment choices so unbearably limited, or traditional assets are so overpriced Wall Street won't even touch them with other people's money, but when it comes to allocating capital the smartest conmen in the room are coming up with some truly unorthodox products. Such as investing in ex-convicts in the form of 2000 newly released prisoners.
Many Ponzi schemes work for a while, but it is only a matter of time before the tide goes rolling out to Sea.
It was nearly three months ago when we warned that Ackman's latest strategy of converting 40% of his Herbalife short exposure into puts would massively backfire, first because he still have major short squeeze potential left on his books, and second because now he is subject to theta or a time horizon, for his thesis to play out. Ackman's (il)logic was summarized as follows: "The explanation of being forced out of nearly half of his position is amusing: "we minimize the risk of so-called short squeezes or other technical attempts by market manipulators to force us to cover our position." So Ackman is forced out by his Prime Brokers so as not to be forced out by market manipulators? That's an interesting explanation for what is a far simple situation: booking your paper losses." Just under three months later HLF hit its all time highs, and Ackman's puts (not to mention his stock short) have generated material losses. Back then we concluded that "with trades like this, which has now become an ideological obsession and moved beyond and semblance of rational investing (any normal person would have pulled the plug on the nearly half a billion dollar losing trade long ago) and is rapidly morphing into a replica of Pershing Square IV, said career may not be too long." Today, the embattled so-called retail expert pours more fuel in the futre, and provides a 7-page update on what his plans for Herbalife are. In short: it really does seem that Ackman is prepared to take his HLF short until the end of the world... or its LBO. Whichever comes first.
Ackman's Year Of Living Dangerously Get Worse - The Herbalife Timeline (Audit Complete With No Material Changes)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/16/2013 16:21 -0400
UPDATE: Herbalife is halted for the following news:
- HERBALIFE COMPLETES RE-AUDIT FOR FISCAL '10 '11, '12
- HERBALIFE NO MATERIAL CHANGES TO 2010, 2011 OR 2012 FINL
Which opens the doors for the substantial buyback they have planned. We suspect one can hear a pin drop in Pershing Square's headquarters.
Herbalife has re-opened up 9% over $75 on very heavy volume - It seems Ackman's "end of the earth" bet may take a little longer...
This week marks the one-year anniversary of Bill Ackman’s 342-page slide presentation at the Ira Sohn Conference in NYC. At that time he publicly disclosed his $1 billion short bet against Herbalife (HLF), accusing the company of being a pyramid scheme and claiming its stock was destined to fall to zero once regulators stepped in. As everyone knows, HLF shares plummeted, losing nearly half their value in the three days after the presentation. The market’s initial response did not last, and HLF is up about 160% since its 12/21/12 low of $26.06 (vs S&P 500 +24%). Pershing Square’s public campaign has taken many forms, as Barclays outlines below...
It would be tragic if it wasn't so hilarious. Nearly a year after we first suggested that Herbalife is the long of 2013, as a result of the epic short squeeze potential resulting from the Ackman announcement of his mega short,(promptly followed by the traditional Whitney Tilson piggyback) which it has been, rising from $25 to an all time high of $77.39 days ago, Herbalife has had enough of the so-called retail expert's (coughJCPcough) repeated allegations of fraud, and after taking a well-deserved victory lap costing Ackman hundreds of millions, has decided to hit him where it truly hurts - his clients. Bloomberg reports that Herbalife is approaching investors in Ackman’s hedge fund, suggesting they pull their money from the $12 billion firm.
Following Kyle Bass' earlier comments on Herbalife's ability to tap the capital markets for a major buyback: HERBALIFE WILL BE ABLE TO BORROW AS MUCH AS $2B, BASS SAYS; An HLF spokesperson has noted that Carl Icahn will not be selling (following the stock's close above a key level that enables him to sell). This has sent the stock to $77.39 - an all-time high. HERBALIFE SAYS ICAHN HAS NO PRESENT INTENTION TO SELL SHARES. We can only imagine how Ackman feels as day after day of theta is sucked out of his puts...
- Contractors describe scant pre-launch testing of U.S. healthcare site (Reuters)
- Carney Says BOE Revamp Offers Wider Access to Cheaper Funds (BBG)
- Help wanted in Fukushima: Low pay, high risks and gangsters (Reuters)
- Merkel and Hollande to change intelligence ties with US (FT)
- Twitter IPO pegs valuation at modest $11 billion (Reuters)
- NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts (Guardian)
- Officials alert foreign services that Snowden has documents on their cooperation with U.S. (WaPo)
- Scottish Nationalists Lose Vote After Plant Threatened With Axe (BBG)
- Fernández contemplates a train wreck in Argentine elections (FT)
- Irish Government will consider ‘best options’ for bailout exit (Irish Times)
It just keeps getting worse and worse for Bill Ackman. A few weeks after the epic humiliation, not to mention even more epic losses, he suffered on his now defunct JCP long position (despite ample warnings by the likes of Zero Hedge who said long ago JCP is merely a melting icecube and fast-track Chapter 11/7 candidate) all those who predicted (such as Zero Hedge back in January) that an epic HLF short squeeze would result in the aftermath of Ackman's Herbalife short announcement leading to Ackman's ultimate capitulation, have been proven correct. Moments ago, in a letter to investors, Bill Ackman just announced that he has covered over 40% of his Herbalife short position, with his forced buy-in explaining the endless move higher in Herbalife stock in recent weeks. The explanation of being forced out of nearly half of his position is amusing: "we minimize the risk of so-called short squeezes or other technical attempts by market manipulators to force us to cover our position." So Ackman is forced out by his Prime Brokers so as not to be forced out by market manipulators? That's an interesting explanation for what is a far simple situation: booking your paper losses.
- Syrian Rebels Hurt by Delay (WSJ), U.S. seeks quick proof Syria ready to abandon chemical weapons (Reuters)
- Lavrov Brings Acerbic Pragmatism to Syria Meet With Kerry (BBG)
- Five years after Lehman, risk moves into the shadows (Reuters)
- U.S. shares raw intelligence data with Israel, leaked document shows (LA Times)
- Japan to raise sales tax, launch $50 bln stimulus (AFP) - so 1) lower debt by sales tax, then 2) raise debt through stimulus.
- Blackstone’s Hilton Files for $1.25 Billion U.S. Initial Offer (BBG)
- Second Life Bankers Thrive in Dubai as Boutiques Boost Fees (BBG)
- Brussels probes multinationals’ tax deals (FT)
- Wall Street's Top Cop: SEC Tries to Rebuild Its Reputation (WSJ) ... and fails
- Tablet sales set to overtake PCs (FT)
- The end of angst? Prosperous Germans in no mood for change (Reuters)