Pershing Square Misleads About General Growth’s Equity Value

June 8, 2009

Pershing Square LogoPershing Square Bill Ackman’s presentation about General Growth Properties (GGWPQ) at the Ira Sohn Investment Research conference has us wondering what he is up to. The tone of the presentation clearly targets an audience that is not familiar with bankruptcy investing. At the same time, his financial projections for GGP are overly optimistic and do not square (no pun intended) with current results. We believe that some of his analysis is very misleading. Read the rest of this entry »

Looking For Outperformance? Invest With An Emerging Manager!

June 1, 2009

An ill-advised, persistent and costly error among institutional investors and their consultants is their reliance on large brand name money management firms to look after their assets. We had the privilege of attending and speaking at the recent Emerging Manager 2009 conference, from where we return with some very persuasive statistics that show the outperformance of small money managers over the large mainstream firms. Read the rest of this entry »

Porsche At Risk Of Bankruptcy Over VW Option Trades

May 25, 2009
Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking with CFO Holger Härter

Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking with CFO Holger Härter

These days, liquidity is in short supply for all hedge funds, and it comes as no surprise the hedge fund wannabe Porsche (POAHF) suffers from the same liquidity squeeze symptoms as many of its hedge fund brethren. The liquidity situation for Porsche will be critical over the next three weeks.

Recall that Porsche engineered a massive short squeeze of Volkswagen common stock (VLKAF) just a few months ago. Volkswagen’s common had been shorted by arbitrageurs who went long the undervalued preferred (VLKPF) at the same time. When Porsche announced that it had acquired 75% of Volkswagen through options and intended to take over the firm, the common stock soared while the preferred didn’t budge. This led to large losses for the hedge funds when they had to cover their short positions in the common.

The flipside of Porsche’s large position in VW option is Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome, AQR. Seriously.

May 5, 2009

Welcome, AQR. Seriously.

Welcome to the most exciting and important marketplace since the hedge fund revolution began with Alfred Winslow Jones 50years ago.

And congratulations on your first mutual fund.

Putting real investment power in the hands of the individual is already improving the way people invest, think, build portfolios, and will spend their retirement years.

Financial literacy is fast becoming as fundamental a skill as reading and writing.

When we launched the first event-driven mutual fund, we estimated that millions of investors worldwide could justify the investment in alternative strategies, if only they understood the benefits.

Next year alone, we project that many more will come to that understanding. Over the next decade, the growth of alternative strategies mutual funds will continue in logarithmic leaps.

We look forward to responsible competition in the massive effort to distribute these strategies to the investment world.

And we appreciate the magnitude of your commitment. Because what we are doing is increasing financial capital by reducing portfolio volatility.

Welcome to the task.


Read the rest of this entry »

Is A Sale Of Wilshire Enterprises Imminent?

March 30, 2009

The shareholder meeting of Wilshire Enterprises (WOC) has been adjourned for the second time. This is actually the third delay of the shareholder meeting, which was originally scheduled for February 26 in Wilshire’s preliminary proxy materials. The meeting was then set for March 24th and at the last moment adjourned to March 30th. Today, the meeting was adjourned again to April 20th. Read the rest of this entry »

Wilshire Enterprises’ Future Decided This Tuesday

March 20, 2009

Wilshire CEO Sherry Wilzig Izak with Mina Otsuka, her brother "Sir Ivan" and friends (left to right)

Wilshire CEO Sherry Wilzig Izak with Mina Otsuka, her brother "Sir Ivan" and friends (left to right)

The end of the first round is approaching in this years most underreported proxy fight, the battle over Wilshire Enterprises (WOC) between Phil Goldstein’s Bulldog Investors and Wilshire’s CEO Sherry Wilzig Izak. Two directors will be elected at Tuesday’s meeting, and shareholders will also vote on proposals to end the staggered board, seek a liquidity event and abolish the poisons pill. We have written extensively about the battle previously (here, here). Read the rest of this entry »

Image Entertainment’s Buyout Collapses, Yet Again

March 4, 2009

Image Entertainment Is Yet Another Busted BuyoutImage Entertainment (DISK) went through a change in leadership over the last year with the retirement of Marty Greenwald, who was replaced by ex-COO David Borshell, but one thing hasn’t changed: its bad luck when trying to sell itself.

Readers of this space may recall that producer and entrepreneur David Bergstein, with the financial backing of real estate mogul Ron Tutor, had tried to buy Image early last year for $4.40 per share, beating a $4 bid from Lionsgate (LGF) – which now itself is under attack by Carl Icahn. The deal collapsed when hedge fund D B Zwirn ran into trouble with accounting, valuation and redemption woes and was unable to provide the promised funding. Read the rest of this entry »

Dirty War Over Wilshire Enterprises

February 25, 2009

Wilshire CEO and party girl Sherry Wilzig Izak with her brother "Sir Ivan"

Wilshire CEO and party girl Sherry Wilzig Izak with her brother "Sir Ivan"

The battle over Wilshire Enterprises between Phil Goldstein’s Bulldog Investors and Wilshire’s (WOC) CEO Sherry Wilzig Izak is gradually growing into a full scale war, if not a jihad. Among a string of litigation, the shareholder meeting was postponed from this week to March 24th, giving management crucial time to beef up their defenses that ultimately will be futile. We have previously chronicled the battle between Wilshire and Bulldog, which ended in a temporary defeat of Bulldog when management declared that “initial bids are in” for a prompt sale of the company. Almost a year after the initial bids, a buyer emerged for $3.88/share, down from $8.50 a few years ago when management rejected a bid by Mercury Real Estate as “undervalued”. Last year’s buyer didn’t have enough funds to acquire Wilshire, and the stock now trades just over $1.

With the date of the shareholder meeting approaching, the fight over Wilshire is heating up. Wilshire’s management is fighting hard to keep Bulldog out: Read the rest of this entry »

Avenue Capital’s Marc Lasry Is In Therapy Over Depressed Asset Prices

February 23, 2009
Marc Lasry, Avenue Capital

Marc Lasry, Avenue Capital

At the first Wharton Hedge Fund Conference keynote speaker Marc Lasry of Avenue Capital declared that he was still in shock over how his firm got to $22 bn in size. Lasry started his firm in 1995 after breaking off from an entity that is affiliated with the Bass family with $7 million, expecting to run a few hundred million dollars if things were to go well. At its peak in 2007, the firm exceeded all targets with $22 billion in assets under management. The wonders done by a decade of liquidity and leverage helped him grow beyond his wildest dreams. Read the rest of this entry »

The State Of The Hedge Fund World

February 22, 2009

Rosy forecasts were in short supply at the first annual Wharton Hedge Fund Conference. The shock of last year’s worst-ever performance still reverberates through the industry. Career plans of students at Wharton are the best indication we have seen to date of how bad things have become for hedgies: one Wharton professor reports that last year, two thirds of his students wanted to get a job in a hedge fund. This year, only one student admitted to hoping for a hedge fund career. Read the rest of this entry »

Mark Fisher: Keep It Simple, Stupid

February 21, 2009

Mark Fisher, inventor of the technical trading method ACD, sees this market as a pure trading market in which analysis does not matter. This was probably not what some of Wharton’s students attending its first annual Wharton Hedge Fund Conference wanted to hear. After all, they have committed to spending a six figure amount on learning how to perform just that analysis. Fisher probably depressed also Wharton’s faculty whose livelihood depends on a steady supply of students willing to pay ever increasing tuition rates. Not to mention that Fisher himself holds a Wharton MBA. Read the rest of this entry »

Société Générale’s Jérôme Kerviel First Interview About EUR 4.9 bn Trading Losses

February 9, 2009

Interview with Jerome Kerviel on TF1

Interview with Jerome Kerviel on TF1

We have been eager for a long time to hear the other side of last year’s mega losses at Société Générale (SCGLF), where a lone trader allegedly gambled away EUR 4.9 billion without anyone realizing it. Having worked at a French bank for a while ourselves, we have always felt that Kerviel’s losses were possible only due to the acquiescence of his superiors, who chose not to look too closely at his stellar track record. The beauty of that strategy, which we have witnessed on a smaller scale in the enterprise we worked at, is that everyone is happy while things go well. But if there is a turn of events to the worse, you can blame it on a rogue trader. Read the rest of this entry »