Whitney Tilson

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How To Make Your Year In 3 Days: Do The Opposite Of Whitney Tilson





The last time Whitney Tilson decided to go public (on a completely unsolicited basis) with his investment thesis of short Netflix, the market took him to the toolshed leading to Tilson (as usual) underperforming the S&P by a ridiculous amount. This time around, with his very public announcement that he is now long NFLX and GMCR... things don't seem to be much different. We have created a CIX screen which is basically an anti-Tilson ETF: long GMCR (on the inevitable squeeze) and short Netflix on the billions in off balance sheet liabilities that somehow were missing from Tilson's thesis, and the result is...

 
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Deja Vu All Over Again: An Unsolicited Whitney Tilson Explains Why He Is Short Green Mountain, Long Netflix





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The last time Whitney Tilson presented his "investing thesis" case in public, he got promptly anihilated as was to be expected - there is a reason why real hedge funds keep their positions secret. This time, "it will be different." Incidentally, it is not a hedge fund manager's job, no matter how tiny said hedge fund is, to plea to the broad investing public: it makes one appear like a petulant child. Their job is to outperform the S&P since inception: a task T2 still seems to find daunting...

 
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Presenting Whitney Tilson's Performance Since Inception Relative To The S&P





Pardon our ignorance, but shouldn't a value-focused hedge fund that has been in operation for 7 years, and has nearly daily TV and media exposure, outperform the S&P net of fees? Actually, scratch that, shouldn't any hedge fund still in existence after 7 years, outperform the S&P?

 
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Whitney Tilson Explains Why He Went Long Netflix, Says He "Hasn't Lost His Mind", Cites Business Insider To "Defend" Thesis





And now the "letter" we have all been waiting for...

 
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Sigh, Whitney Tilson Is Now LONG Netflix





And just as we were thinking of buying some deep OTM calls...

 
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So Much For "Value Investing" - Whitney Tilson Plunges 13.3% In August, Down A Mass Redemption-Inducing 21.1% YTD





If anyone works in finance, chances are they have at some point, or more likely, constantly, received emails (we want to keep it civil) to participate in the Value Investing Congress, which purportedly, promotes ideas based on, well, value. Alas, if that is indeed the case, then primary sponsor Whitney Tilson's T2, has to urgently look up the definition of velue. To wit: "Our fund declined 13.3% in August vs. -5.4% for the S&P 500, -4.0% for the Dow and -6.4% for the Nasdaq. Year to date, it’s down 21.9% vs. -1.8% for the S&P 500, +2.1% for the Dow and - 2.2% for the Nasdaq." Even more to wit: "On the long side, our portfolio got clobbered across the board despite generally good company- specific news regarding our major holdings (discussed below). Amidst a tumultuous month in the markets, investors dumped stocks that were even slightly illiquid, or that are valued primarily on future, rather than current, profits – both traits that characterize many positions in our fund. One of our biggest advantages is being willing and able to look out 2-3 years when most investors are looking out 2-3 months (or, in many cases, 2-3 microseconds), but this hurt us last month." But wait, despite what is basically the start of yet another hedge death watch, Tilson sees smooth sailing ahead. "In our view, the turmoil of the past month has created the best bargains we’ve seen in the market since the chaos and panic of late 2008 and early 2009. Of course stocks aren’t anywhere as cheap now as they were then, but the risks aren’t nearly as great either (we think many people didn’t realize or have forgotten how close we were then to a worldwide Great Depression), so on a risk-adjusted basis we think our portfolio is as attractive now as it was then." We can only hope Whitney has some, any, money left to spend on chasing these amazing value bargains. In the worst case, the fees from the VIC conference should find the purchase of at least one block of ES.

 
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Our Biggest Surprise From The "Patriotic Millionaires For More Taxes Initiative": Whitney Tilson Makes Over A $1,000,000





When we read about the "Patriotic Millionaires" initative, in which anyone can submit a name and an email address, and indicate they make over a million dollars, while patriotically proclaiming their desire to be taxed more, our biggest surprise was not that nearly 400 Americans gave the IRS a carte blanche to go through their 2011 tax returns line by line, but that Whitney Tilson actually makes over a million per year. It appears the "Value" Investing Congress still has money left over after spending millions on R&D for uncovering revolutionary ways for its VIC conference invite (80% off, but only if you respond in the next 10 minutes) blast mail to pass through every single spam filter known to man (or so it would appear to disinterested 3rd parties who have tendonitis from hitting unsubscribe countless times). That said, we are confident all of these patriotic individuals will gladly submit at least an additional 10% of their gross income to the IRS, and provide proof of doing so, regardless of how successful their highly patriotic and altruistic campaign ends up being. Because otherwise those tempted to do so, may actually accuse said "millionaires" of hypocritical posturing. Incidentally, perhaps next said self-proclaimed millionaires, who count in their ranks such rich men as Nouriel Roubini, Leo Hindery, Mike Steinhardt, and Edie Falco can also disclose the liability side of their balance sheets.

 
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Whitney Tilson's Comprehensive Presentation On Life, The Economy, And Everything





Lately, Whitney Tilson's "value investing" record has taken some bruises (today's latest MSFT fiasco notwithstanding: bottom line is sometimes stocks are "value" for a reason), although he still makes presentations better than most. Below is his latest comprehensive analysis of the economy "An Overview of Behavioral Finance and the Economy, What Worries Us, Our View of the Market, and Some Stock Ideas." Lots of pretty charts and some good overall observations, with an emphasis on housing and macroeconomics.

 
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Whitney Tilson Capitulates, Covers Netflix Short





"In mid-December, we published a lengthy article on why Netflix was our largest bearish bet at the time. With the stock up nearly 25% since then, one might assume that we’d think it’s an even better short today, but in fact we have closed out our position because we are no longer confident that our investment thesis is correct." Whitney Tilson

 
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Whitney Tilson Underperforms S&P By 30%, Blames Bulk Of Miss On Netflix





Whitney Tilson, the consummate "value investor" is the latest confirmation of what we have been claiming since the beginning of 2010: namely that with the Fed's intervention in capital markets, those who plan on making money using a gold old fashioned long-short, 130/30 portfolio distribution, value trading are in the bullseye of central planning. What has happened over the past year, when courtesy of the Chairman's endless market manipulation, is that the worst of the worst stocks, those traditionally shorted by all, the 5x beta crapshoots, were the ones the screamed higher, with State Street and BoNY making it impossible to hold shorts in anything, not to mention repo desks calling in borrow on a daily basis, and killed traditional fundamental analysis, where good companies are purchased, and bad ones are shorted. Congratulations Bernanke: with your reckless destruction of prudent capital allocation decisions, you will put every single "value investors" out of business. Which is why we feel for Whitney, who despite his seemingly constant appearance on CNBC at one point talking his book, returned just 10% net for his fund, compared to the S&P which did about 50% better. Hopefully the redemption requests leave something in their wake. On the other hand, like every single self-respecting asset manager, Tilson blamed the bulk of his underperformance on Netflix. Of course, he is absolutely right: the company is worth exactly nothing, but it will likely take a few years for the momo crew to figure it out. By then, all shorts in the name will be but a memory.

 
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Whitney Tilson Responds To Netflix CEO's Response Of Tilson's Critique





The theater of the macabre goes one further following the just released response by Whitney Tilson to this morning's attempted rebuke of the short Netflix thesis by Reed Hasting. StreetInsider cites Tilson, who told the breaking news site the following: ""I'm glad Reed Hastings took the time to reply to some of the issues we raised. He made a number of good points and helped us -- and other investors -- understand him and his company better. I think a friendly, respectful debate like this is healthy and wish there was more of it." We are now holding our breath until we get Reed's response to this follow up response, to his original response, over just how overvalued his company is. Ironically, we don't really see what the reason for this theatrical acrimony is: after all it is pretty obvious that both Hastings (and the firm's CFO prior to his surprising resignation recently) and Tilson are on the same side of the trade.

 
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Netflix CEO To Whitney Tilson: "Cover Your Short Position. Now"





In what is rapidly becoming a mockery of the investing process, after Netflix recently advised shorts to cover during their investor call, the firm's desperation has hit a new all time low. Today NFLX CEO, Reed Hasting, has responded directly to ongoing attacks by Whitney Tilson that his company is due for a major correction, by posting in financial website Seeking Alpha. Hastings' stunning conclusion: " Whitney lays out a series of potential issues for us: Our CFO’s
recent resignation; threats to the First Sale doctrine for DVDs;
Internet bandwidth costs potentially increasing; declining FCF
conversion; market saturation; weak streaming content; paying more for
streaming content; and increased competition hurting margins. He only
has to be right on one or two of these issues in 2011 for him to make
money on his short of Netflix. Odds are he is wrong on all of them, in my view. Let’s take them one at a time." And while Tilson has indeed suffered major losses so far on this short, we are very confident that his perseverance will pay off. As we noted previously, the major concern facing Netflix is not so much margins (which is a major concern), but cash flow generation. As such, we continue to view the probability of a follow on offering by the company to be very high, as the firm already issued high yield bonds recently and has very little dry powder left under the "indebtedness incurrence" basket.  In the meantime, we can all enjoy the spectacle that is NFLX' defense of its ludicrous 100x+ fwd P/E position.

 
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Whitney Tilson July Performance And Investor Letter





Whitney Tilson was up 3.5% in July, surprisingly not beating the market's 7% rip, even with his well publicized BP position (cost basis of $29). Tilson's notable movers: "On the long side, winners of note included BP (up 33.2%), Goldman Sachs (14.9%), Resource America (13.0%), American Express (12.4%), AB InBev (10.5%), CIT (7.4%), and General Growth Properties (5.0%), slightly offset by Berkshire Hathaway (-2.5%). On the short side, we profited handsomely from VistaPrint (-30.4%) and Gentiva Health Services (-23.6%), but these gains were more than offset by losses on MBIA (up 54.7%) and InterOil (35.1%)." Additionally, Tilson shares an in depth thesis of his three favorite stocks: AB InBev, Microsoft and BP.

 
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Whitney Tilson's Bull Case On BP





There are some, like Pimco and Whitney Tilson's T2, who enjoy talking their book, and demonstrating they just love to live dangerously by buying the stock of a company which has an Upside/Downside ratio of 1 (or 100% on both sides, with the government dead set on pushing the "equation" solidly to the D side). Then, there are those, who would rather go to Vegas, breathe in deeply some beta radiation courtesy of the Us DoD and DoE, play some serious blackjack, get the presidential suite and all the Grey Goose comped, and have the very same wining odds as a BP investment, even as the house is gamed to win in the long run (thank you HFT).For those in the first camp, below, courtesy of My Investing Notebook, is Whitney Tilson's case on why BP's stock price belongs tens of dollars higher. For the sake of Blackrock and every pensioner in the UK, we hope Tilson is correct. For now, he has a ways to get above hist cost basis.

 
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Whitney Tilson Fund Update





Whitney Tilson's T2 rose 4.6% in March, and 10.1% in Q1, primarily due to its GGP holdings. Also, Iridium appears to still be in business and generating returns for T2. Other longs include such non-blue chips as Borders, Winn-Dixie, Resource America and Yahoo. The fund's short book seems to not have done so well, with key names Lululemon, DineEquity and MBIA surging during the period. The one bright spot on the short side was Palm.

 
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