So David Einhorn won his lawsuit against Apple today, which means that Apple will be forced by a court order to issue $236 billion of “iPref” 4% perpetual preferred stock next week, which I currently see bid at 4.06% in the gray market for $10 million lots.
Hahaha no of course it doesn’t mean that. It means nothing! Except that everyone is kind of peeved. There are some things you could say against Calpers corporate-governance guru Anne Simpson’s position on Apple/Einhorn, but she’s not wrong about this:
“I came off the call deeply puzzled,” Anne Simpson, the pension fund’s director of global governance, told DealBook in an interview after [yesterday's Einhorn] call [pitching iPrefs]. “He finished off by saying you should vote against Proposal 2 to send a message, but he’s in court trying to prevent Proposal 2 from going ahead.”
Right? Read more »
I used to work on sort of a cats-and-dogs capital markets desk, which occasionally meant that spivvy companies without great access to the equity and bond markets, or industry bankers who were a bit too clever for their own good, came to me and asked “hey, what if we issued preferred stock?”1 I cannot recall that ever working out well. “Preferred stock” is a thing that exists in corporate finance textbooks, and occasionally solves for quirky corporate finance equations (“can we structure this investment as debt only it isn’t debt …”), but its practical uses tend to be limited to:
- private companies, private investments in public companies, joint ventures, VC investments, and other non-publicly-traded things;
- convertible preferred stock, which is not really the same thing at all;
- convertible preferred’s weird Warren-Buffett-and-TARP cousin, “preferred stock with warrants”; and
- a couple of sectors that are really into leverage, capital-structure engineering, and retail financing – meaning mostly banks, insurance companies and REITs.
So David Einhorn’s too-clever-for-his-own-good “iPrefs” deck brought back fond memories: why not convince a tech company that the next level of financial-engineering innovation is to issue preferred stock? And, since the phrase “preferred stock” does still kind of conjure up turn-of-the-last-century financial markets and/or cheesy cologne, why not rebrand it as “iPrefs”? There is something … something very investment-banker-y about taking an absolutely standard financial product, giving it a different name, and calling it an innovation. Of course I love it.
The only thing I love more than the name is the ambition. Read more »
“It is kind of like my grandma Roz. She wanted to hoard money. She would not leave me a message on my answering machine because she did not want to be charged for a phone call. It is really hard to convince somebody with that mindset to change what they’re doing. We have come up with what we think is a win-win situation for Apple where Apple gets to keep its war chest, they get to keep the money, they get to have it for bad times, for growth, for acquisitions.”[Bloomberg TV, earlier]
David Einhorn, Greenlight Capital: “Cranberry sauce — not from the can, just cranberries and sugar.” Julian Robertson, Tiger Management: “Wild rice.” Gary Cohn, Goldman Sachs: “Oysters — not shucked by me.” Glenn Dubin, Highbridge Capital Management: “I love turkey. I would love to eat turkey all year round, because I’m a chicken person.” David Hasselhoff, actor: “I miss the dish my mother used to make: it was green beans, with a layer of marshmallows, and corn flakes on top.” [Bloomberg via LaurenTaraLaCapra, RELATED]
So I guess the Einhorn effect hasn’t yet taken London by storm? There’s this:
David Einhorn’s $7.7 billion hedge fund Greenlight Capital Inc. disclosed a short position of 4.4 percent in the shares of Daily Mail and General Trust Plc, which publishes the U.K.’s second-biggest selling daily newspaper.
Greenlight’s bearish bet on London-based Daily Mail and General Trust, disclosed today on the website of the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority, was the biggest short position revealed by any hedge fund against a U.K. company under rules that took effect last week.
And yet there’s also this:
What are you doing, England? Don’t you know that when David Einhorn is short a stock, that stock goes down? There are rules here you know; today’s mild drop is not enough to comply. Read more »
In other GL third quarter updates, sources at Brovada say the investment team has swung from two point underdogs to 13.5 point favorites in the annual interoffice basketball game and the Greenlight baby-making machine continues to around the clock. Read more »
During a presentation on Tuesday at which he was expected to reveal his latest bearish thesis, Mr. Einhorn, a hedge fund manager, introduced a discussion of General Motors with an ambiguous line. Mr. Einhorn, the president of Greenlight Capital, pivoted on the ticker symbol of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, a target of his criticism last year. “If you take the CR away from GMCR, you get G.M.,” Mr. Einhorn said. Shares of General Motors plunged, before investors realized that the assessment of the automaker was positive. Mr. Einhorn emphasized the folly of taking his ideas on faith. “It doesn’t make sense to blindly follow me or anyone else into a stock,” he said as a preface to his presentation at the Value Investing Congress in Manhattan. “Do your own work. And when a successful investor shows you their work, check their work.” [Dealbook]
The Journal has a nice article about David Einhorn today, making the point that he can move stocks with the sheer power of his disapproval. Not even disapproval, really; a raised eyebrow will suffice, as it did for HerbaLife. Imagine his parenting skills.
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.
It’s particularly delightful for a short seller. (Though also: sort of puzzling for a short seller.) We’ve talked before about a paradox of short selling where: Read more »
August performance. Read more »
By early June the market had given back all of its first quarter gains, and the crisis yet again came to a head. The European leaders took a cue from Groundhog Day and did as they always do: they announced yet another ‘Summit to Fix Everything’…The whole thing is such a mess – who can blame them for heading for vacation? Besides, this allows the politicians to position themselves to give the appearance of personal sacrifice, should they need to interrupt their Olympics cheering to make emergency phone calls…Landon Lee, our Research Associate in Dallas, has decided to pursue an MBA at Columbia Business School. As Cheryl Einhorn is an Adjunct Professor there, one can’t help but feel that Landon is choosing Cheryl over David. And who wouldn’t? To discourage further poaching, David has taped a “Do Not Solicit Greenlight Employees” notice to the home fridge. [Greenlight 2012Q2 Letter To Investors]