– “This is as much like insider trading as soccer is like football”
– “The FSA has spent the last two years forcing square pegs into round holes”
– “This is like a traffic cop with a quota at the end of the month, with a miscalibrated radar gun”
– Greenlight has a recording of the call in question, which contains no evidence of insider trading Read more »
As we’ve discussed at length, the hedge fund quarterly letter to investors is an art form. In down months and in up, it’s become increasingly difficult to come up with an original way to say you got your ‘nads ripped off and shoved down your throat “but it’s okay! because this had nothing to do with our analysis and everything to do with the market’s ridiculous mispricing of equity” or write that you’ve been doing chest bumps with IR all morning on account of “making the market our bitch” without sounding like you’re getting too cocky. Regardless of performance, managers tasking themselves with the responsibility of dazzling clients are faced with the challenge of how to do so in a fresh way that sets them apart from the pack. And few if any get the job done like Glenview chief Larry Robbins.
If Lar were teaching a Learning Annex class on the subject, he’d write one word on the chalkboard and underline it twice: analogies. In his Q2 2010 letter to investors, for example, Robbins likened being a steward of capital to being a bus driver, which included a story about driving his kids to school and debting the merits of taking the GWB versus the Harlem River. Impressive, yes, but the Maestro was just getting started. For for his latest piece, the Q3 note, Lawrence pulled out all the stops. They involved:
* Football fields and sprinklers:
In other words, if you look at the total investing landscape and assume that it is a football field of 100 yards, we think that many different asset classes – Treasuries, investment grade bonds, non-investment grade bonds, CMBS, actual real assets, real estate, gold, etc. – have gone from potentially and then wildly undervalued to now being at least fairly valued, or, in some cases, overvalued. Certainly on the debt side, if you are an absolute return investor, things are quite sparse there. So where’s the only place for the liquidity to go? The only place left for the liquidity to go, which can absorb that liquidity, is high quality US equities. That is where the undervaluation is. If you think of the market as a giant football field, then if 80% of the field is saturated but the liquidity sprinklers are still on all around the field, then that means that 5x as much water is going to find the remaining 20% which is still dry.
In his latest column for The Daily Beast, Charlie Gasparino discusses the fact that while “some investors and Sheila Bair” had hoped the government would put Citi out of its misery, the plan is to keep the bank “half-dead and half-alive because in its current, near-vegetative state,” where it can’t do much harm, and focus efforts on Bank of America. Gaspo understands the logic, but he doesn’t agree with it. He thinks even in a state of comatose, the Big C could do a tremendous amount of damage. How does Charlie know this? He’s seen it happen before:
In some ways Citigroup reminds me of this nasty neighbor I had as a kid. He was a hazard to both the community and his wife and kids whom he used to abuse on a daily basis. Then one day he got into an accident; I believe he fell off the back of a truck, cracked his skull and was in a coma. We prayed for his timely exit from this world but he hung on, first for weeks and then for months.