T1 Is Not T2: Goodbye Whitney Tilson?

Tyler Durden's picture

From the inbox:

Tilson splitting from Tongue, unwinding T2 Partners, new fund at KASE Capital

We very much hope our tipster is wrong: after all how will CNBC Fast Money viewers know to buy JCP at $27, and $26, and $25, and $24, and all the way down to $19 where it is today. Also who could have possibly foreseen the end of a mega long-biased end of a $345 Million fund which had over $125 million in long derivative equivalents? Oh wait...

From May 15

For all the totally inexplicable facetime T2's Whitney Tilson gets on prime time financial comedy air, one would imagine that the man runs billions and billions. Instead, as per the just released 13F, Tilson's fund has a grand total of $345MM in long AUM as of March 31. So far so good, however that does not explain why the manager has a Sharpe ratio of roughly 0.00 in the past 3 years. Well, now we know: of the $345 MM total, a ridiculous $104 Million is in call options! In other words, not only is Tilson nothing but a bullish bet that copycats various other select hedge fund portfolios, it is a mega-levered one at that, with what appears ridiculously high theta! It get's worse: as it turns out, another $24MM or so is... in Warrants. Yup: all levered products without actually owning the underlying, leading to massive monthly swings in actual P&L. In other words, real assets held by Tilson amount to $217 Million. And one wonders why the fund can be up 20% one month and down 30% the next... or how Tilson can spend hours a day on TV.

Here is the drill down:

  • Tilson's top position is a $76.3 million call option on Berkshire.
  • Of $345MM in long positions, $104MM are CALLS
  • Of the remainder, about $24 million are warrants
  • The top 5 positions are nothing but a levered pro-cyclical call: 3 out of 5 positions are Berkshire Call, stock and a Goldman call.
  • Tilson has 50 positions that amount to less than $5MM in AUM
  • When eliminating options, Tilson's 10 largest positions are Iridium, Howard Hughes, Berkshire, Citigroup, JC Penney, Netflix, Sandisk, Goldman, AIG and Alexander and Baldwin
    • Of these, Irridium is a Warrant.

End result: we expect many more appearances from the Call buyer on CNBC, where he gets a few hundred dollars for every appearance. Trust us: he needs the cash.