Loeb Boosts Short Bets Citing Sloppy Accounting, Volatility

  • Loeb says some valuations not supported by the real numbers
  • Third Point has more single-name shorts than long positions

Daniel S. Loeb, Founder, Third Point LLC.

Photographer: Jacob Kepler/Bloomberg

Billionaire hedge fund manager Dan Loeb said he’s building bets against stocks that surged because companies are relying too much on dubious financial metrics.

“There’s been some real sloppiness in accounting, and this move toward using adjusted Ebitda and adjusted earnings has produced some companies that I think are trading on valuations that are not supported by the real numbers,” Loeb said Wednesday in a conference call held by Third Point Reinsurance Ltd., referring to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. “We’ve seen some real themes that favor the type of short selling that we do.”

Loeb, who oversees investments for the insurer, said there are several shifts in recent months that make shorting more attractive. He cited increased volatility, a more tempered economic outlook and a rally that may have lost momentum.

“It’s a lot easier for us to find shorts and not get overcome by a rising market tide that could lift all stocks,” he said.

Loeb said he now has more short wagers against individual companies than long ones. He didn’t name securities that he expects to fall, but said “there are certain industries that we see that are deteriorating where we have made some bets.”

The hedge fund manager said in August that he sought opportunities in energy-related debt, looking for oil prices to bottom. The holdings hurt the portfolio in the third quarter, Loeb said.

He also added to his long positions in health care as certain stocks were oversold, he said. Declines in those holdings, which include stakes in Amgen Inc., Allergan Plc and Baxter International Inc., caused about a third of his losses during the quarter.

“There’s a fine line in concentration, because to get the sort of returns we’ve had over the years we do concentrate but within limits,” Loeb said on the call.

Third Point Re’s portfolio rebounded in October, bringing its return for the year to 0.1 percent, the Bermuda-based company said Tuesday. The third-quarter net loss widened to $195.7 million, the worst since the company’s 2013 public offering, according to the statement.

The reinsurer slipped 29 cents to $13.69 at 10:24 a.m. in New York trading. That extended its loss to 5.5 percent for the year after a 22 percent drop in 2014.

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