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Opening Bell: 09.27.07

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Yale Endowment's Performance: A+ (WSJ) Yale Beats Harvard—in investing. Ba dump bump. Yeah, that was too easy, but I’m only wearing one contact and you would’ve gone there, too. The Yale Endowment posted a 28 percent return for the fiscal year ended June 30, leading the academic world in investment performance for the tenth straight year, and increasing its total value to $22.5 billion from last year’s $18 billion. Though the Crimson’s endowment is significantly larger, at $34.9 billion, it only saw returns of about 23 percent, and as Yale’s chief investment officer David F. Swensen always says, “it’s the motion in the ocean that counts.” The second-best-performing school was Amherst College, which was up 27.8 percent to $1.7 billion, followed by UVA (25 percent, $4.3 billion), Harvard, MIT (22 percent, $9.9 billion), and Johns Hopkins (19 percent, $2.8 billion). University officials would not specify which assets it held or which ones performed the best, but many believe alternative investments, of which Swensen is said to be a big fan, were to thank.
Analyst cuts Merrill Lynch on possible $4B writedown (AP via CNN Money) Goldman Sachs analyst William Tanona said in a note yesterday that Merrill Lynch will have a horrible third quarter. Citing a possible $4 billion writedown in assets, Tanona cut his profit estimate to 15 cents per share from $1.95/share, and lowered his target price on ML to $94 from $108. Though the distressed financial markets have left everyone in bad shape, the AP, playing everyone’s favorite parlor game of “Who’s the biggest loser on the Street,” noted that things look the worst for Merrill because its fiscal third quarter covered more of the downturn in the market than the banks that already reported (Merrill’s Q3 ended September 30, Goldman and Morgan Stanley’s on August 31). ML’s stock dropped down to $69.91 after the note came out, bouncing back slightly to close down 37 cents at $71.75.
BA ditches Boeing jumbo for Airbus A380 (Reuters) British Airways cut its blood brothers bond with Boeing’s 747, forged over several decades, when it announced its switch to Airbus’s new A380 superjumbo. In a mixed plane order worth up to $8.2 billion, BA will be replacing 34 of the airline’s older longhaul planes with 12 superjumbos from Airbus and 24 787 Dreamliners from Boeing Co. BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh denied that there was any political pressure to buy parts that will be manufactured in Britain. "There was absolutely none," he told reporters. "There was no contact, be it formal or informal. The decision was made in the best interest of British Airways. In the engines, the choice of Rolls-Royce was because British is best."
Chuck Norris's Tears Might Solve Credit Crunch (Bloomberg) We’ve always counted “Walker, Texas Ranger” among our top three heroes. For a while, they balked at the idea of devoting an entire column to him on their “serious business website,” but today we get down on our knees and thank god Bloomberg has seen the light of day, and come up with an entire page of gems such as, “Chuck Norris subprime collateralized debt obligations still trade at 100 percent of face value,” "Chuck Norris charges the Bank of England a penalty rate for borrowing. And guarantees its deposits,” and “Chuck Norris doesn't buy gold to hedge against inflation. Gold buys Chuck Norris to hedge against inflation.” (“Chuck's iPhone never needs recharging” wasn’t so good.)*
The Mideast Money Flows (New York Times) Carlyle and other U.S. buyout firms are looking to the Middle East, they claim because it��s a great place to invest. The real reason, which nobody else will tell you, is because you can’t beat Dubai’s public school system.

*And a few from our favorite Bulge Bracket on Park:
“Chuck Norris never trades vol...he is vol.”
“Chuck Norris is rated AAAAAAAA- by Moody's, S&P, and Dick's House
of Credit Ratings and Martial Arts.”
“Renaissance's black box model is actually Chuck Norris' brain.”
“Chuck Norris Asset Management is hiring and paying top dollar.”
[And to all the Joe Weisentholics in the audience, the man will be back tomorrow.]