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Whitney Tilson's Media Blitzkrieg


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It wasn't that long ago that he swore off all media appearances. Yet I wasn't surprised to see the lead to this article (among many others)...:

 

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/03/23/in-praise-of-short-sellers?currentPage=all

 

Obviously, even though people like to make fun of him, Tilson is in fact a very talented investor. It is just funny to watch his antics! I wonder who his investor base is composed of? Pretty much just friends and family?

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So what?  Is this just investing gossip and ego envy?

 

I am not personal friends with Tilson but I like the guy.  I think he one of the better people on wall street as I heard stories of him personally helping people in a variety of ways.  He is the opposite of the arrogant hedge fund manager.  See the 60 min story of him with Lumber Liquidators.  That was a great service to society.  I would rather hear Tilson's views than most others.

 

 

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If you read through his latest ADV you see that he only has three accounts which total about $100 million.  Yet his ratio of media appearances to AUM is ridiculous.

 

He is a nice guy but his antics annoy me.  I'll try my best to make this my last Tilson rant.

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So what?  Is this just investing gossip and ego envy?

 

I am not personal friends with Tilson but I like the guy.  I think he one of the better people on wall street as I heard stories of him personally helping people in a variety of ways.  He is the opposite of the arrogant hedge fund manager.  See the 60 min story of him with Lumber Liquidators.  That was a great service to society.  I would rather hear Tilson's views than most others.

 

I'd agree, I think Tilson is a really decent guy. No doubt he has incredible energy and I think some people confuse that will being promotional.

If you have ever emailed Whitney, I've found he gets right back to you and is very gracious. There is plenty to be learned from Whitney

and he's generous with his time if you are a young investor.

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If you read through his latest ADV you see that he only has three accounts which total about $100 million.  Yet his ratio of media appearances to AUM is ridiculous.

 

He is a nice guy but his antics annoy me.  I'll try my best to make this my last Tilson rant.

 

Each fund is considered an account, so there are more than three investors.

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So what?  Is this just investing gossip and ego envy?

 

I am not personal friends with Tilson but I like the guy.  I think he one of the better people on wall street as I heard stories of him personally helping people in a variety of ways.  He is the opposite of the arrogant hedge fund manager.  See the 60 min story of him with Lumber Liquidators.  That was a great service to society.  I would rather hear Tilson's views than most others.

 

Yup, pretty much just investing gossip. As is the case with the Berkshire and Fairfax boards on here. As I said, I think Tilson is very talented and I've learned from him. It's just interesting to speculate on his motivations for returning to the spotlight.

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On a previous thread someone was asking about raising money.  Tilson is a great case study.  No one here knows his record, yet he has a "small" fund with only $100m.  If he's doing the old 2/20 thing he's doing well on just the 2 even if he never gets the 20.  Someone whispered some numbers on Value Investor Insight as well, and I know for a fact he can live very well on his portion of that alone.

 

Love him or hate him he has made a name for himself and that's attracted assets.

 

I believe I have his track record buried in my email somewhere.  If I remember correctly he did fairly well before becoming T2.  During the T2 period it was terrible and now that the other T is gone he's back.

 

I've heard of him helping others as well.  Seems like a decent guy, someone I'd want to grab a beer with and actually talk to.  My impression of most other investors who are on TV/radio/news as much as Tilson have this attitude that they couldn't imagine mingling with the plebs.  I don't get that vibe from Tilson.

 

 

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According to this his performance was pretty good - in 2010 from inception:

 

http://www.marketfolly.com/2011/04/t2-partners-attributes-poor-performance.html

 

In 2011, he was down 25% according to this"

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/11/us-hedgefunds-idUSTRE80A1CV20120111

 

"One example is Whitney Tilson. His $250 million T2 Partners LLC has generally outperformed the major stock market indexes, but last year was a far different story, with his main fund tumbling 25 percent after losing big on stocks like Iridium and Netflix."

 

They went their separate ways in 2012...so I'm assuming that year wasn't going well either.

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/whitney-tilson-and-glenn-tongue-part-ways-at-t2-partners-2012-7

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According to this his performance was pretty good - in 2010 from inception:

 

http://www.marketfolly.com/2011/04/t2-partners-attributes-poor-performance.html

 

In 2011, he was down 25% according to this"

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/11/us-hedgefunds-idUSTRE80A1CV20120111

 

"One example is Whitney Tilson. His $250 million T2 Partners LLC has generally outperformed the major stock market indexes, but last year was a far different story, with his main fund tumbling 25 percent after losing big on stocks like Iridium and Netflix."

 

They went their separate ways in 2012...so I'm assuming that year wasn't going well either.

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/whitney-tilson-and-glenn-tongue-part-ways-at-t2-partners-2012-7

 

Tilson is a nice guy just he never knows when to stop. After the 60 minutes interview he came out looking very good - he could have done Bloomberg and CNBC that morning and then just kept quiet. Instead, he has done CONSTANT emails, interviews, articles etc. He does not know when to stop. Tilson could really use a good PR agent who would tell him when its enough!

Anyway, here is his updated track record.

 

http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/02/whitney-tilson-letter-2014/

Tilson-2014.jpg.67b56c0f395f6defb9007065e44a8053.jpg

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Guest roark33

Well, him being right on LL still remains to be seen.  I think he doubled down around 29, so if the stock is at 50 a year from now, he may barely break even....Also, the borrow costs are going to eat into his profits even if this thing goes nowhere....

 

I think he is a nice guy in general, took my calls and discussed a company thoroughly.

 

I think he is too connected to LL and that's a problem with any investment.  In fact, one of his all time best investment was NFLX and that's because he switched sides. 

 

That's a great lesson in my book--being able to recognize when a story has played out or when you were wrong and switch sides. 

 

I don't think he can do this with LL anymore, it has become a "consumer" safety issue and not a way to just make money on an investment.

 

He is now talking more about how lawsuits are going to swamp the company (and he says, even if the class actions suits don't ultimately prevail, it will still be a cost for LL), which is totally true, but that's not really an ethical way to think about it--If LL turns out to be right, yes, their profits will be lower, but that will be because of the media hype that he created. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In fact, one of his all time best investment was NFLX and that's because he switched sides. 

 

That's a great lesson in my book--being able to recognize when a story has played out or when you were wrong and switch sides.

 

I've said on here before that I really do quite admire how he was able to switch sides completely on Netflix, and not just close out his position but in fact go long. Not many people would do that, when he had been so public with his short position previously.

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Guest roark33

He has been sending out an email a day (sometimes two) re: LL.  I am not completely convinced either way on the issue, but his level of confidence is too high, imo.

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He has been sending out an email a day (sometimes two) re: LL.  I am not completely convinced either way on the issue, but his level of confidence is too high, imo.

 

In college I knew someone looking for a guitar player for a band.  I asked what level of talent he wanted, he responded with something I won't forget.  "I'd rather have someone who's confident and not talented verses someone talented and not confident."

 

I've seen confident people will things to happen because they believe in something so strongly.

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Guest roark33

I like that idea of confidence, but I think it matters a lot more when something is completely in your control, like playing guitar.  In this case, unless he is personally adding formaldehyde to the products, his confidence seems too high.

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Wonderful way to go broke in investing.

 

Tilson also said sodastream will go up "at least 50% in 2015, mark my words."

 

What kind of value investor says things like that?

 

He has been sending out an email a day (sometimes two) re: LL.  I am not completely convinced either way on the issue, but his level of confidence is too high, imo.

 

In college I knew someone looking for a guitar player for a band.  I asked what level of talent he wanted, he responded with something I won't forget.  "I'd rather have someone who's confident and not talented verses someone talented and not confident."

 

I've seen confident people will things to happen because they believe in something so strongly.

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From the annals of COBF...

 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveforbes/2013/06/27/whitney-tilson-wisdom-on-value-artists-like-buffett-and-klarman/

 

From this I'd highlight the following:

 

Forbes: You’re going to bite out of Apple?

Tilson: Are asking do I own Apple stock? I do. I got back into it just before they reported earnings a few weeks ago, a little under $400 a share. Added a little more after earnings. My feeling about Apple is: I’m not sure what to think about it long term, but I think it’s likely to do well in the next six monthsor so simply because I think they’re in a new product launch.

 

And later he talks about JC Penney.....

 

Tilson: I actually am back in it just in the past month or so......I think the stock is a quick ride into the mid-$20s. And then again, then I’ll have to decide if I believe in the long-term turnaround or not.

 

And then the interview ends with this:

 

Forbes: Finally, what’s the best money advice you ever got?

Tilson: I would say Warren Buffett, years and years ago (he’s repeated this many times when he meets with students) has always said, “The best way to think about investing is you’re coming out of business school or you’re coming out of college now. And you have a card, and it has 20 punches. And every time you make one

investment, you have to punch that card, and that’s all you get for your whole life. Not for the month, not for the year. That’s your life. You can make 20 investments.”

 

20 punches, eh??  ::)

 

We all say dumb things, but if one is going to go on the record so often, one might end up saying something like the abovementioned.

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Tilson spoke at the 2015 Columbia Value Investing Conference in the short selling panel

 

He along with another Long/Short guy laments that shorting stock is a terrible way of making a living.  His advice is that if you're just starting out, don't do it.  I've heard the same sentiment from many other L/S hedge fund managers.  I wonder why fund managers don't stop short selling once they have this light bulb moment.  Perhaps, it's a matter of selecting the "Long/Short" bucket when they launched their fund.  Hence, every conversation that they have with their LPs involves selling a long short hedge fund product.  Hence he's handcuffed to a strategy, albeit a less optimal one. 

 

Personally, I feel Tilson has an urge to be more than a hedge fund manager.  He's like a girl who craves attention and will go to great length to be in the limelight. I feel like he'll do better if he just stick to his longs and buy some OTM SPY puts.  I feel that over 90% of fund managers will do better if they just adopt that strategy. 

 

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