From Stocks to Bitcoin, Investors Bet the ‘Everything Rally’ Will Continue [WSJ]
Following an early-year collapse, the broad U.S. equity gauge, global stocks and an index of raw materials each rose at least 35% from the end of March through the end of the year, only the third time in figures going back five decades that all of those investments have climbed so much in such a short time…. “Investors can’t get enough risk—whatever it is,” said Emily Roland, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management. “Momentum is a powerful force, and we don’t want to fight it.”

Lessons From a Crazy Year in Financial Markets [WSJ]
The cold reality is that the market’s rally has occurred in the midst of a catastrophic pandemic that has killed more than a million people, halted business and travel and wreaked havoc on the economy. Although there are plenty of reasons for the market’s comeback, not the least of which is the Federal Reserve’s massive intervention, the staggering rally is still difficult to comprehend for many investors…. While stocks managed to charge higher in 2020, many economists don’t expect the U.S. to recover all of the jobs lost during the pandemic until 2023 or later…. Society as a whole was becoming more technology-oriented, even before the pandemic, Mr. Bassett said. The end of the coronavirus pandemic won’t be a panacea to companies in already struggling sectors such as oil or bricks-and-mortar retail.

Jack Ma disappears from his own talent show [FT]
Mr Ma was replaced as a judge in the final of Africa’s Business Heroes, a television contest for budding entrepreneurs, his photograph was removed from the judging webpage, and he was conspicuously left out of a promotional video.
The final took place in November, shortly after the Chinese tech billionaire made a candid speech criticising China’s regulators and its state-owned banks. In the wake of the speech, Mr Ma was dressed down by officials in Beijing and the $37bn initial public offering of his company Ant Group was suspended. He has not been seen in public since….
In August, Mr Ma tweeted his congratulations to the 20 entrepreneurs pitching their way through his foundation’s months-long contest to crown a second annual batch of African “Business Heroes”. /“I can’t wait to meet them!” he said. It was one of his last tweets.

Beijing says it will take ‘necessary measures’ in response to NYSE delisting of 3 Chinese companies [CNBC]
The NYSE said on Thursday that it will delist China Telecom Corp. Limited, China Mobile Limited, and China Unicom Hong Kong Limited. Trump signed an order in November that barred Americans from investing in companies it alleged were connected to the Chinese military…. The commerce ministry said that the U.S. was “abusing national security and using state power to crack down on Chinese enterprises” and said the move was “not in line with market rules and logic, which harms not only the legitimate rights of Chinese enterprises, but also the interests of investors in other countries, including the US.”

The Cost of Fighting the Count [DealBook]
The senators rejecting the election count include Steve Daines of Montana, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Roger Marshall of Kansas, who ran and won their seats in 2020. Their major campaign contributors included corporate political action committees, which collect and distribute employee contributions…. Mr. Daines and Mr. Marshall received $10,000 each from a Goldman Sachs PAC. The bank has warned that sowing doubt about the orderly transfer of power threatens the economy. It did not respond to a request for comment…. Apollo Global Management’s PAC contributed $10,000 to Mr. Hagerty. The firm did not respond to a request for comment.

Startups Going Public Via SPACs Face Fewer Limits on Promoting Stock [WSJ]
For numerous executives that took their startups public in 2020 by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, there was a different, perfectly legal approach: lengthy interviews with obscure YouTube channels frequented by individual traders, appearances on cable news, and projections that call for billions in revenue….
The Securities and Exchange Commission requires company executives to stay in a quiet period during the weeks around a public listing…. Startups that go public through SPACs face fewer constraints because the deals are considered mergers…. Many of the companies going public through SPACs say they were drawn to the process by the readily available funding—not the regulatory differences.

Billionaire NBA owner’s IPO dreams are no slam dunk [N.Y. Post]
Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta’s plans to take his Golden Nugget restaurant and casino business public appears to be getting the cold shoulder on Wall Street…. The problem, sources explained, is that there appears to be little value in Golden Nugget beyond the debt, which stands at about $4 billion — much of it taken in 2017 to finance a $1.4 billion dividend to Fertitta so he could buy the Rockets for $2.2 billion.

Tesla 2020 deliveries beat estimates, but fall just short of Musk's target [Reuters]
The company delivered 499,550 vehicles during 2020, above Wall Street estimates of 481,261 vehicles, according to Refinitiv data - but 450 units shy of CEO Elon Musk’s target…. Tesla at the start of 2020 said it would “comfortably exceed 500,000 units” for the year, a target it has left unchanged despite the pandemic.

Roku Nears Deal to Buy Rights to Quibi’s Content [WSJ]
Roku, which sells the most popular streaming-media player in the U.S., is pushing aggressively into content with its own ad-supported app, the Roku Channel, which offers movies and shows produced by other companies. A deal with Quibi would give Roku a roster of exclusive programming….
Quibi has struck deals with producers that allow Quibi to exhibit their shows on its service for seven years. Some of the contracts suggest that the content can’t be aired on other platforms, some people familiar with the deal terms said. One person familiar with Roku’s view said the contract terms wouldn’t prevent the company from showing the content on its service.

SoftBank to Get Majority Stake in Katerra With $200 Million Bailout [WSJ]
Katerra’s shareholders on Wednesday voted to approve the new investment on top of the roughly $2 billion SoftBank has already invested. Under the plan, the Japanese investment firm’s stake in Katerra will grow to give it a majority stake, while other investors will see their stakes severely diluted…. Some of the company’s projects were plagued by delays and cost overruns, while its aggressive growth strategy and a high debt load depleted its cash reserves. The Covid-19 pandemic, which delayed construction projects in some cities, added another challenge.

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(Getty Images)

Opening Bell: 12.10.20

Airbnb exceeds; DoorDash delivers for Masa Son; SAC vet’s non-“side-hustle” SPAC; Clayton’s revenge; and more!

SonSoftBank

Opening Bell: 11.18.20

Masa Son is ready; Jim Simons less so; Hintze’s helpers; Soros’ sorrows; and more!

England's Donald Trump: Pro-Leave, obviously.

Opening Bell: 9.8.20

Will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights?; Masa Son is Masa Son-ing; the last frontier in cheapening spirituality; and more!

shrinkingmarket

Opening Bell: 10.23.18

Markets spooked; Turkey furious; Caterpillar f#cked; Even Masa Son not going to Riyadh; and more!

Opening Bell: 05.15.12

In Facebook IPO, Frenzy, Skepticism (WSJ) Michael Belanger, a lawyer from Oklahoma City, invests his personal money in the stock market. But he will be skipping Facebook's IPO because he thinks its valuation is totally "out of whack." Scott Schermerhorn, chief investment officer of investment-management firm Granite Investment Advisors, says the hype around Facebook's IPO is going to keep his firm away. "It's a cult stock," he says. Little of that skepticism is weighing on three investors, tracked by The Wall Street Journal since Facebook announced in February that it would go public. Jim Supple was driving with his daughter Jade last autumn, when she turned to him and said, "Daddy, can I buy some of the Facebook company?" Mr. Supple, 47, had been teaching Jade about investing in the stock market for years. He started putting money for her in stocks like eBay and Disney when she was a baby. But the request still took him aback. "How do you know about buying Facebook?" he asked. "I saw in the news that they were going to be selling parts of the company," she responded. "Can we buy some?" Since then, Mr. Supple has been trying to find a way to take $25,000 he has saved for her college fund and purchase Facebook stock. "She doesn't need this money for another eight years," says Mr. Supple. "If it goes the Google route, I'll be in good shape." JPMorgan Said To Weigh Bonus Clawbacks After Loss (Bloomberg) The lender can cancel stock awards or demand they be repaid if an employee “engages in conduct that causes material financial or reputational harm,” JPMorgan said in its annual proxy statement. The company will claw back pay if it’s appropriate, said one of the executives, who asked not to be identified because no decisions have been made. The incident, which led to Drew’s retirement yesterday, may test JPMorgan’s claw-back policy amid mounting investor criticism over Wall Street pay practices and as regulators investigate the trades. JPMorgan Moves To Protect Dimon (WSJ) The board backs Mr. Dimon and the way he quickly admitted and sought to fix the bank's mistakes, according to this person. "We made errors, and we are going to take care of it," Mr. Dimon told fellow directors during a conference call last week, the person said. "This was bad thinking. This was stupid." Euro Chiefs May Offer Leniency to Greece (Bloomberg) Calling talk of a Greek pullout from the euro “nonsense” and “propaganda,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said only a “fully functioning” Greek government would be entitled to tinker with the conditions attached to 240 billion euros ($308 billion) of rescue aid. Man Spends $60,000 In Custody Battle Over Dog Knuckles (CBS) Dershowitz, 34, said he considers Knuckles to be his son, and that although he’s gone through his life savings, he said it’s worth it. In papers filed earlier this year in Manhattan state Supreme Court, Dershowitz said ex-girlfriend Sarah Brega “kidnapped” Knuckles after they broke up. Brega said Dershowitz gave her the puggle pup — half pug, half beagle. Dershowitz started the website Rescue Knux to raise money for the custody fight. For $250, contributors can play fetch with Knuckles. For $10,000, Legends of Graffiti will do a giant, personalized mural. Dershowitz made an emotional video plea and posted the following on his site: I know it might sound funny and I understand that. If it wasn’t so painful, I would be laughing too (I mean, c’mon – dognapp – really?) but this is very serious to me and I miss him a lot. Enough that I have gone into debt to retrieve him and enough that I am on here asking for your help. I need the money to keep fighting the court battle. She comes from a wealthy family that is backing her. I don’t. She keeps filing crazy, frivolous motions just knowing that I can’t afford to respond even after the judge has ruled in my favor. The courts gave me custody already but, sadly, the system is too complex and expensive to make anything that simple and easy. I need help bringing my boy home…where he belongs…for good.” Dick Bove: No Reason to Break Up Big Banks (CNBC) JPMorgan’s much ballyhooed $2 billion loss is no reason to ramp up regulations, noted bank analyst Dick Bove said Monday. “I don’t think there’s any reason to break up the big banks,” he told CNBC. “Particularly if a bank can earn $18 billion a year and $22 billion the next year, why in heaven’s name would you say it can’t be run?” Sanders Sees Conflict With Dimon on New York Fed Board (Bloomberg) Senator Bernard Sanders said he sees a conflict with JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon serving on the board of directors at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, JPMorgan’s regulator. “It is an obvious conflict of interest,” Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, said today in an e-mail response to a question from Bloomberg News. “This is a clear example of the fox guarding the henhouse.” Chesapeake Loan Jars Bond Investors (WSJ) "This loan was priced very attractively" for lenders, said Sabur Moini, manager of a $2.5 billion high-yield-bond portfolio at Payden & Rygel, adding that turmoil in Chesapeake's bonds was largely "self-inflicted." Investor confidence was shaken by the loan, he said, but it has also been dented by other factors, including controversy over CEO Aubrey McClendon's pledging his stakes in company wells as collateral to secure loans with companies that do business with Chesapeake. Rajat Gupta Opposes U.S. Request to Limit Defense at Trial (Bloomberg) Prosecutors had sought to bar Gupta from speculating before the jury about the government’s motives in bringing the case. They also said evidence of Gupta’s past charitable contributions and the purported damage the case has had on his reputation aren’t relevant. “The government attempts to hamstring the defense,” Gupta’s lawyers said in a court filing today. “Mr. Gupta’s charitable activities are a large component of his background and a critical element of who he is as a person.” Cops bust man smuggling cocaine at JFK (NYP) A drug smuggler packed his stash of cocaine inside sticks of deodorant, ink markers and hundreds of buttons — only to be busted by alert customs officers at JFK Airport who noticed a strong odor coming from his suitcase, authorities said today...The items with cocaine hidden inside included 16 markers, 17 sticks of Dove and Odorex deodorant, 24 bottles of nail polish, and about 684 buttons.

coronavirus

Opening Bell: 8.18.20

Hedge funds not feeling sick about missing vaccine rally; Jeff Smith hears people are throwing money at SPACs; GM fantasizes about becoming Tesla; and more!

Opening Bell: 07.31.12

RBS Braces Itself For Libor Deal (WSJ) RBS stands apart from the other banks caught up in a trans-Atlantic probe of the rate misdeeds because of the U.K. government's 83% stake in the lender. That has put U.K. authorities in an awkward position: They are under intense pressure to get tough on wayward banks but also are eager to protect the value of a taxpayer asset. Defendant in Insider Case: I Was Just Doing My Job (WSJ) Doug Whitman, a former hedge-fund manager, doesn't deny that he probed public companies for nonpublic information. But his criminal-defense team plans to argue that its client was doing exactly what he was supposed to do when he persuaded employees of public companies to give him information that those companies' top brass didn't want getting out. Mr. Whitman "was doing what every diligent, competent fund manager and analyst should do—checking up on companies' management to make sure they are being forthright with their investors," said David Anderson, Mr. Whitman's lead defense attorney, in an email. Tiger Management Helps Next Generation Funds (NYT) In a relatively young industry where stars can quickly fade, Tiger Management — and its myriad affiliates like Falcon Edge — is the closest thing to a hedge fund dynasty. After a brief career in finance, Mr. Robertson started Tiger in 1980 with seed money from friends and family. He regularly racked up double-digit returns by taking big positions in companies with good long-term growth prospects and aggressively betting against those stocks poised to fall. Mr. Robertson trained his young protégés — the so-called Tiger cubs — in the same tradition, creating the next generation of hedge funds stars. After leaving Tiger in 1993, Lee Ainslie started Maverick Capital, which currently manages roughly $10 billion. Stephen F. Mandel Jr. began Lone Pine Capital in 1997. Two years later, Andreas Halvorsen opened Viking Global. “We really gravitated to young people, and that was a great deal of our success,” said Mr. Robertson, 80, who often hired people in their 20s. “I was just an old goat with all these young geniuses around.” As the first wave of Tiger cubs age, they are breeding new funds, too. Blue Ridge Capital, where Mr. Gerson honed his skills, has been a particularly good incubator for talent. While Blue Ridge has subscribed to the long-term strategy of Tiger, the founder, Mr. Griffin, has infused the firm with his own philosophy. As a proponent of behavioral finance, he trained analysts like Mr. Gerson to identify how ego and emotion can affect the market and stock performance. Biggest Chapter Yet For A Poison Pen (WSJ) Daniel Loeb isn't one given to half-measures. The hedge-fund manager competes in triathlons, never, ever drinks from a plastic water bottle and is unsparing at times in his criticism of corporate executives. That is exactly how his investors like him. "I didn't give him the money to have a mellow Dan Loeb," said Hugh F. Culverhouse, a Miami investor whose family once owned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team. "If I want a mellow Dan Loeb, let me redeem."...The Yahoo campaign signals a new phase in Mr. Loeb's career. Until now, he was perhaps best-known for his poison-pen letters, in which he has scolded executives for everything from keeping relatives on the payroll to socializing at the U.S. Open tennis tournament. Armed with a much bigger war chest—Third Point managed just $1.7 billion as of April 2009—Mr. Loeb can now aim for bigger targets. Mr. Loeb and his investors have a lot riding on a Yahoo revival. "If he makes money on his position, it will be good," said David Tepper, a fellow hedge-fund manager who has known Mr. Loeb for years. "If he doesn't make money, what is the point?" British man rescued off French Atlantic coast after being overcome with Olympic mania and trying to swim to America (DM) The unnamed 34 year old holidaymaker told his friends on the beach at Biarritz that he was off to New York to carry the Olympic spirit across the Atlantic. They thought he was joking but knowing that he was a strong swimmer decided to let him go telling him that a boat would come to rescue him if he got into difficulty. The man swam well beyond buoys 300 yards out to sea marking legal limits for bathing. Then, watched by lifeguards on the shore, he continued swimming until he was out of sight on his 3,594-mile journey. The lifeguards called out a helicopter and a diver dropped into the sea and explained to the man that it was not a good idea to swim across the Atlantic and advised him to head back towards France. He replied that he was a strong swimmer and felt up to it. At the same time lifeguards arrived in a rescue dinghy and threw the eccentric a line before towing him back to the beach. Laurent Saintespes, senior officer at Biarritz airbase told Agence France Presse, ‘He was a bit naive. But at a time when the Olympics are taking place in London you have to see the funny side of things’. Billionaire Jeff Greene On Democracy (NYM) Lately—like at a recent lunch with Steve Schwarzman, who has likened Obama to Hitler—Greene’s been trying another tactic. “Now I appeal to them selfishly,” he says. “ ‘Don’t you realize that if you don’t take care of this kid when they are 10 years old, you’ll take care of them when they are 20 and 100 instead? We just have to pay a little more taxes. It’s not going to kill us. You buy car insurance. Why not buy some democracy insurance?’ People think that Obama is this leftist, socialist guy,” he says. “But I don’t think they understand what people can go for when they are at the end of their line.” South Korean Youth Eschew Samsung Jobs For Facebook Dreams (Bloomberg) Not so long ago, South Korean students dreamed of lifetime jobs at Samsung Electronics Co. Now, many are shunning the juggernaut, intent on trying to emulate the likes of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Sim Cheol Hwan, 27, is typical of the trend. He wants to take a break from college in Seoul to set up a company rather than line up for job interviews at Asia’s biggest electronics company paying an average of 77.6 million won ($68,300) a year. So he’s set himself up in his own business making apps for Samsung and Apple phones. “I don’t want to get a job at a top 10 Korean company,” said the Hanyang University engineering student, who spent two years in the military. “Zuckerberg’s success proves that there is a lot of money to be made” in startups. Regulators Target Day-Trading Firm (WSJ) In the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca, inside a garret up a narrow wooden staircase, four young men in T-shirts spend the day moving rapidly in and out of stocks, trying to ride their shifting momentum for profits. "It's very stressful," says one, dressed in a green T-shirt, blue shorts and Adidas sneakers. "The market is very hard to figure out." The four traders are part of a world-wide network initially set up by a Toronto-owned firm called Swift Trade Inc. Swift's founder, Peter Beck, turned it into one of the largest day-trading operations in the world over the past decade by aggressively expanding into far-flung locations, from China to Nicaragua to Romania, where he could recruit traders on the cheap. Mr. Beck also took an aggressive stance toward the law, say regulators in several countries where his firm has traded. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is expected on Tuesday to announce a settlement with Mr. Beck and an in-house brokerage unit for not establishing a supervisory system to prevent "a pattern of manipulative trading activity," according to a copy of the settlement reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The Best CFOs: A Wall Street Journal Ranking (WSJ) #16: Ann Marie Petach, BlackRock. Chewbacca costume head from ‘Star Wars’ sold for $172K (NYDN) A Chewbacca headpiece used in the original "Star Wars" trilogy sold for a whopping $172,200 at a movie memorabilia auction this weekend. The loyal and lovable walking carpet swept the competition, which included an "Edward Scissorhands" costume worn by Johnny Depp that sold for $86,100 and an Everlasting Gobstopper used in the 1971 movie "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory" that sold for $49,200. The Chewie mask was described by auctioneer Profiles in History as the "finest full costume headpiece of Chewbacca from the original trilogy in private hands," and "the finest screen-correct Chewbacca costume head from the Star Wars trilogy known to exist." The eyes are actual casts of Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew's closed eyes, the auctioneer said. The expected price for the well-liked Wookie was between $60,000 and $80,000, plus fees and taxes, according to the auction catalog...Four years ago, someone spent a reported $240,000 to get the lightsaber prop used by actor Mark Hamill in the first two movies.

djemog

Opening Bell: 12.21.20

Skimpy stimulus; Tesla’s triumph; SoftBank’s SPAC; forecasting foibles; and more!