Greenlight Capital

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 »

David Einhorn Sees A Lot Of His Nana In Apple

“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 is suing Apple to make them give shareholders a separate vote over whether shareholders should have a vote over whether Apple can issue preferred stock. I guess that requires some unpacking. Let’s start at the end, with the preferred stock. Here is Einhorn’s plan:

For example, Apple could initially distribute to existing shareholders $50 billion of perpetual preferred stock, with a 4% annual cash dividend paid quarterly at preferential tax rates. … Assuming Apple retains its price to earnings multiple of 10x and the preferred stock yields 4%, our calculations show that every $50 billion of perpetual preferred stock that Apple distributes would unlock about $30 billion, or $32 per share in value. Greenlight believes that Apple has the capacity to ultimately distribute several hundred billion dollars of preferred, which would unlock hundreds of dollars of value per share. Further, Greenlight believes additional value may be realized when Apple’s price to earnings multiple expands, as the market appreciates a more shareholder friendly capital allocation policy.

What do you think? I vote yes. (I mean, I think it’s a good idea. The voting is more complicated.) My math is here and ties closely to Einhorn’s:


The math is super straightforward though it can and should boggle you conceptually if you think about it. Read more »

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]