For all those curious why all real money managers (and not those who spend 18 hours a day on the modern day Yahoo Finance known as Twitter, "trading" with monopoly money while selling $29.95 newsletters) are furious at what Bernanke and company are doing as shown in the most recent Ira Sohn conference, we present the chart below from Goldman which confirms what most have already known: the Federal Reserve has made hedge funds a thing of the past, whose investors are sure to keep underperforming the S&P until the moment when it all goes tumbling down.
While Paul Singer, Kyle Bass, and Stan Druckenmiller got the headlines, there were in total 14 worthwhile speakers at yesterday's Ira Sohn conference. Though many of the themes were unsurprising, it is nonetheless useful to compare your own views to those of these professional money managers, many of whom are now bludgeoned daily by the 'idiot-maker' rally... of course, that is, until they are proved 100% correct.
Today's star-studded Ira Sohn conference was led by two behemoths - Elliott's Paulk Singer and Hayman's Kyle Bass. We recently discussed in detail Paul Singer's perspective on the "most dangerous" investing environment but today he summarized and added to those comments at the Ira Sohn conference. "There is no safe haven in today's markets," he explained, "those holding long-term bonds in US, UK, and Japan own assets that are trading at the wrong price," and went on with more brutal honesty, QE causes a distorted recovery - financiers doing well, ordinary person not experiencing recovery. Kyle Bass also stuck to the script noting that in Japan "mindsets are changing - the beginning of the end has begun," and exclaiming in his subtle and forthright manner, "you have to be shitting me, you're adding a ponzi scheme to a ponzi scheme." We leave the summation up to Singer, "the ultimate question for a fiat money regime is at what point does confidence in money disappear?"
The overnight economic data dump started in China, where both exports and imports rose more than expected, at 14.7% and 16.8% respectively, on expectations of a 9.2% and 13% rise. The result was a trade surplus of $18.16 billion versus expectations of $16.15 billion. The only problem with the data is that as always, but especially in the past few months, it continued to be completely made up as SocGen analysts, and others, pointed out. The good data continued into the European trading session, where moments ago German Industrial Production rose 1.2% despite expectations of a -0.1% drop, up from 0.6% and the best print since March 2012. The followed yesterday's better than expected factory orders data, which also came at the best level since October. Whether this data too was made up, remains unknown, but it is clear that Germany will do everything it can to telegraph its economic contraction is not accelerating. It also means that any concerns of an imminent ECB rate cut, or a negative deposit rate, are likely overblown for the time being, as reflected in the kneejerk jump in the EURUSD higher.
When Mary Meeker, formerly of pre-IPO bubble analyst fame, released her "USA, Inc." presentation last year, which assayed the US government as if it were a corporation, her conclusion was simple: the country is broke, and can not continue along the path it is on now. Fast forward to today, when the US debt balance is over $1 trillion higher, and the next edition of Mary Meeker's presentation which she released at last week's Ira Sohn conference. Her conclusion: the US is now broke-er than ever.
Now that the Ira Sohn conference has become a worthless hypefest, in which everyone and their kitchen sink is invited in a desperate attempt by hedge funds to offload positions put on ages ago to witless alphaclone chasers, the real "idea dinners" are few and far between. One such remaining one, which unlike others does not seek to publicize its positions to every retail investor, is that held by Monness Crespi, in which very select hedge funds are invited. Below we summarize the stock picks from last night's dinner. We are not at all surprised to find FaceBook already making enemies.
S&P 500 e-mini futures closed at their day-session lows, below yesterday's day-session lows, and heading for overnight lows rapidly - once again giving up some decent early gains amid much heavier volume into the close. Markets were a mess today. Risk-assets in general had the highest intra-correlation in a long-time - with FX, credit, rates, curves, and stocks moving in almost lockstep all day (up then down). Equities were smashed left, right, and center by comments from the Ira Sohn conference (as it seems people have given up reading hedge fund 13Fs) with Einhorn's comments in particular showing up just how fragile and thin the real liquidity picture is so many stocks. Silver plunged just after the European close (margin/collateral calls?) and dragged the rest of the commodity complex down with it as stocks basically turned on a dime after hitting yesterday's closing VWAP this morning. Treasury yields rose and plunged in the same pattern - ending the day marginally lower than overnight low yields at the long-end but marginally higher at the short-end (post FOMC minutes). Financials were the worst performer again, down around 1.5%, with the majors in particular now starting to catch up to credit market's long-held conviction on these names (with MS -10.5% YTD and BofA plunging today but still +27.8% YTD). Gold remained relatively stable getting a lift post-FOMC (along with silver as the inevitability of QE was clear - but an equity plunge necessary before it can occur) - though we note the Gold/Silver ratio is now unch YTD. Credit markets are not done worrying yet - and that weighed on JPM (-2%) as IG9 pushed above 150bps offered for the first time this year and HYG (the high-yield bond ETF) collapsed along with HY credit spreads. Still doesn't feel capitulative as overnight nerves for Greece remain high.
Here are some of the things that David Einhorn likes and does not like, having just started his speech at the Ira Sohn Conference:
- Martin Marietta - stock plunges 10% and triggers circuit breaker.
- France - "a french default is not out of the question" - France not limit down yet. He says that a return to the Franc is not out of the question.
- Einhorn likes GJF.NO - "Norway is the only country which can finance itself."
- Einhorn likes Cairn Energy as it trades at discount to assets in just Britain and India.
- Says China is misunderstood and is not an investment opportunity: not enough money to feed the economy and banks aare becoming illquid; money is leaving the country
- Also does not like Japan for all the usual Kyle Bass and Andy Xie reasons. The Yen will continue strengthening.
- Einhorn likes AMZN, calls it "elephant in the room", but questions profit growth.
- Einhorn likes Dena Co, and Gree Inc in Japan
- Einhorn is short DKS
- Einhorn, who is long about $870MM AAPL as per last night's 13F, likes AAPL. Stunner.
Today begins the 17th annual pilgrimage of hedge-funders near and far to the Ira Sohn conference, where some of the "best and brightest" share their top picks with everyone else in an attempt to generate a buying (or shorting) frenzy and more hedge fund hotel traps. Sadly, this is what to many passes for alpha these days. Yet does the Ira Sohn conference actually lead to any outperformance? Well, Absolute Return has compiled the 1 year return of the recommended investments from last year's conference. The results are absolutely abysmal. Which makes us wonder if the time of groupthink has peaked, and instead the time to fade absolutely everything to come out of such conferences, where analysts pretend to do homework by piggybacking on others' often times very, very wrong research, and which confuse beta expansion with alpha, has come.
The following note from Caris & Co. on HLF (which launched Herbalife in September at a Buy and a $75/share PT) has got to be the worst sell side note in history. The catalyst, according to the firm: what David Einhorn may or may not say. Now that is true value added. Next up: Goldman goes long IBM because it flipped heads.
For anyone deluding themselves that alpha still exists apart from beta, and can be generated sans "expert networks", we bring you the top stock picks from the Ira Sohn's San Francisco conference hosted last night. We will bring more detail shortly.
Following today's apocalyptic trading in Bank of America, David Faber disclosed that one of the biggest cheerleaders of the increasingly doomed bank, David "Balls to the Wall" Tepper, had cut his entire stake in BAC and Wells Fargo (despite presenting the most laudatory powerpoint back at the 2010 Ira Sohn conference which predicted BAC going to $27... no comment). That's great, however, as we disclosed the other stock that is currently causing Paulson to scramble and to extract "value" out of every non MTM 2nd lien currently held by the fund, is none other than Citigroup which tumbled just a little less than BAC, closing down 17%. The issue is that as per the just released Appaloosa 13F, Citi is the top stock held by the hedge fund currently... Although probably not after today. Which is surprising because if Tepper expected Bernanke to announce QE3 tomorrow, he would pull more of his on screen antics and instead of dumping his financial holdings, he would be adding. Then again as the chart below demonstrates, Tepper is a guy who is happy to buy high and sell low, if in the meantime he can take advantage of the Fed's generosity with taxpayer capital to make billions in his Christmas bonus. Anyway, while Tepper may or may not have been skewered on his top position today, below is the complete summary of all position changes between Q1 and Q2.
In an almost verbatim repeat of Carl Icahn's words of caution which we noted yesterday, Templeton's legendary chairman Mark Mobius said that "another financial crisis is inevitable because the causes of the
previous one haven’t been resolved" during a luncheon (menu included herb crusted chicken breast with cheese and tomato sauce, mashed potato and green vegetables, seasonal salad) at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo. Bloomberg reports: "There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner because we haven’t solved any of the things that caused the previous crisis,” Mobius said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo today in response to a question about price swings. “Are the derivatives regulated? No. Are you still getting growth in derivatives? Yes." Unlike Icahn, Mobius stopped short of calling for a return to Glass-Stegall and a repeal of the abominable Gramm-Leach-Bliley which unleashed the era of zero margin derivatives and financial system neutron bombs. On the other hand, it is nice of Messrs Icahn and Mobius to speak up now, two years after the ongoing systemic instability transferred $3.5 trillion in capital from current and future taxpayer generations to the present financial elite. We do, however, forgive them because in their better late than never contrition, they join the likes of Zero Hedge who since January of 2009 have warned, over and over, that nothing in the structure of capital markets has changed, and that the market could any day open not only bidless, but broken beyond even Brian Sack-ian band aid repair.
Marc Faber Is Shocked By How Many Ferraris And Bentleys He Sees In Newport Beach During His Smoke BreakSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/26/2011 18:27 -0500
Yesterday Marc Faber first made a guest appearance at the Ira Sohn conference, warning his audience to prepare for war, then promptly shifted to Bloomberg's offices where he discussed his outlook primarily on China, but also on the US, with Carol Massar, once again warning about war. As usual, he did not mince his words, warning of a "recession", and predicting that China is simply not growing fast enough in real terms. Nothing new. He did however branch out into the topic of class divergence in both emerging and developed economies: "in front of far too many luxury hotels there are far too many Ferraris, Maseratis, Bentleys... I see a boom everywhere, except for the working class, except for the lower, middle class. But among the well to do people the wealth that is floating around and the prices you pay for high end properties is incredible, and I think that will come to an end, and a lot of people will lose a lot of money... I was in La Jolla, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, I was in front of a restaurant smoking and I've never seen so many Ferraris, Maseratis, Bentleys and fancy cars anywhere in the world, and this is in America. I am not saying this is wrong, but there is an opulence among a small group of people that is huge when there are lots of people that are struggling. This gives me a bad feeling because I've seen so many emerging economies when they were booming, that was the time to get out." As for the US economy, Faber agrees that the only thing that can help is a massive crisis (or "conflagration" as David Stockman calls it) that jars America out of its hypnotic state. And, sure enough, it will come.
While the hedge fund world (at least those who are not lucky enough to be among the 250 who have access to valueinvestorclub.com) is currently frenzied by the latest public revelations of attempted groupthink at the annual Ira Sohn conference, which Market Folly is doing a good job of summarizing in real time, Absolute Return magazine has compiled the returns of various managers' recommendations based on their 2010 picks. The big winners: Arbess, Eisman, Grantham, Dinan, and oddly enough Larry Robbins. The biggest loser by far was David Einhorn, whose once iconic cult of 13F clones appears to have lost critical mass. In the middle David Tepper, whose modest beat in Santander was more than offset by losses in Bank of America. Of course, nothing compares to John Paulson's thesis that BofA would hit $30 by the end of 2011. Full summary below.