Here is a chart from the Journal and I guess you win a cookie if you can tell me how it’s calculated:
But you get the gist: on average (er, median), an Einhorn seal of disapproval lops 4.9% off a company’s market cap in one day, and 13% in a month. You can argue that he is just excellent at picking stocks that are about to drop precipitously, but the repeated one-day success seems like pretty clear evidence that the market is reacting to, rather than independently fulfilling, his predictions.
So, first off: this is a great skill to have! I think that in part because I am very lazy and have always imagined a hedge fund manager’s job as being to come into the office, point at a stock, say “that one,” and go home for the year while the stock he picked makes him rich. I don’t think it works that way, though; stocks tend to move for reasons in the external world unrelated to your simple desire to make yourself rich, so you have to spend your days, like, doing research and stuff. But when your desire to get rich off a stock pick makes it so, that is metaphysically delightful.
A world away from Wall Street and the tech money culture of Silicon Valley, the Einhorn family started a venture capital firm here [in Milwaukee], which raised a $40 million fund last year. David Einhorn is the largest investor in the fund, run by his brother, Daniel, and their father, Stephen. The firm, Capital Midwest Fund, also led by another partner, Alvin Vitangcol, aims to tap the Midwestern work ethic and has ambitions of changing the way early stage investments are run. “This isn’t Silicon Valley, where you’re almost encouraged to fail a couple times, and your next opportunity is in walking distance,” said Daniel Einhorn, who is 40… if a company financed by the new fund doesn’t provide the investors an exit within five years — through an acquisition — then Capital Midwest requires the company to buy back its shares. Daniel Einhorn doesn’t hesitate to put executives on the spot. Last month, surrounded by Brewers memorabilia in his office, he questioned the chief executive of one of his portfolio companies. It was a start-up based in Ann Arbor, Mich., called CytoPherx, and the firm was discussing clinical trials of a medical device that were not going smoothly. At one point, with the receiver on mute, Mr. Einhorn said the chief executive was making a “poor me” excuse. [Dealbook]
Back in February, in his annual letter to investors, Berkshire Hathaway chief Warren Buffett spent a good bit of time discussing why one shouldn’t own gold. Beyond the fact that, according to WB, gold doesn’t “change in size and [is] incapable of producing anything,” and you’d be much better off buying farmland (which “a century from now will have produced staggering amounts of corn, wheat, cotton and other crops and will continue to produce that valuable bounty”) or shares of Exxon Mobil (which “will probably have delivered trillions of dollars in dividends to its owners”), the Oracle of Omaha had one incontrovertible, be all end all reason for eschewing the metal: its unfuckability. Oh sure, you can do things to a cube, you can fondle it, you can talk dirty to it, you can send nude pictures of yourself, you can even drill a hole in it and fuck it senseless, but, the thing is, the cube will not respond. No reciprocation, no gratitude, not even a sign it enjoyed itself. For Buffett, no further argument was necessary as to the worthlessness of the commodity. (Silver, on the other hand, will make you feel like you’re 18 again.) Anyway, David Einhorn sort of feels the same way about the dollar. Read more »
Einhorn says he has a lot of stocks to talk about, starts with Martin Marietta Materials, which he says has “lots of problems.” Einhorn calls MLM CEO a “degree in megalomania”…Einhorn just pulled out a magic wand and I’m pretty sure made a Harry Potter reference. And he’s onto talking global economies. He’s talking up a stock in Norway known as GJF. [Deal Journal]
Wouldn’t it be fun to be the kind of guy who could swoop into an earnings call and be all “aren’t you just a giant fraud?” and freak everybody out and cause the stock to plummet? I feel like that would be fun. I am not that kind of guy, which is just as well, because I sort of go around assuming that selling (1) weight loss drugs through (2) network marketing just automatically makes you a giant fraud,* so I would probably use my powers irresponsibly.
Anyway David Einhorn didn’t do that at all! He asked some perfectly reasonable questions of weight-loss network marketer Herbalife. Here is a comically anodyne description:
Herbalife Ltd. (HLF), the maker of nutritional supplements and weight-management products, fell the most in more than three years after hedge-fund manager David Einhorn asked executives why it has stopped providing information tracking certain groups of its distributors in its filings. …
Chief Financial Officer John DeSimone told Einhorn on the call that when he took over as finance chief in January 2010 he decided to stop breaking out information on distributor groups as it isn’t “valuable information to the business or to the investors.” Herbalife “can easily provide the exact same breakout going forward,” DeSimone told Einhorn.
“That sort of follow up” would be “helpful,” Einhorn said on the call.
How cozy. You can read the questions and, crucially, listen to the skepticism in his voice here. You can see the 20% price drop here. Read more »