Tyler Durden: Yesterday, we were beyond amused when we reported that the market’s response to rumors of Zillow’s $2 billion take over of Trulia was not only to push Trulia stock higher by $500 million but send the market cap of income-less, EBITDAless Zillow higher by $1 billion. It appears we are not the only ones fascinated by the market’s reaction to every M&A announcement, which is to send not only the target but the acquirer stock soaring. One other such person is David Einhorn who laments precisely this bubblyness in his just released letter to investors, saying that “takeover season has returned and in a new twist, the buyers’ stock prices are also advancing in response to announced deals, enabling companies, including some of our shorts, to see gains as acquirers – even of other troubled companies.”
He proceeds to give several examples of how his shorts have worked against him, a trend which as we reported first in 2012 will continue indefinitely under a centrally-planned regime in which the Fed is the Chief Risk Officer of the market, and where no price declines are allowed, and thus the need to hedge (which means that going long the most hated, vile, worthless companies will, sadly, by and large continue to be a winning strategy).
Still, with a return of 5.2% in Q2 and 7.1% YTD, at least Greenlight is only barely under-performing the market, something that 90% of his hedge fund peers can only dream about.
Here are Einhorn’s full thoughts on the M&A bubble:
Costly takeovers of our shorts appear to be a cyclical phenomenon: We went from 1996-2003 without incurring a single material loss due to a takeover. Then in 2006-2007 we had a number of our shorts taken over in rapid succession, the most costly being Medtronic’s $4.2 billion acquisition of Kyphon at a 32% premium over Kyphon’s already lofty share price. In reviewing historical takeovers of our shorts where we lost money, almost none proved to be good deals for the acquirers.
Well, yes: it’s called forced capital misallocation for a reason.
Things got quieter again for a few years but now takeover season has returned and is again causing losses in our short portfolio. Companies we are short often have serious problems of which the boards and management are probably aware. This makes them more eager than usual to sell at any sort of premium.