Hedge Fund News: Edward Lampert, Bill Ackman & David Harding

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Softer sales slam Sears with fourth-quarter loss (NYPost)
Sears CEO Eddie Lampert admitted the retailer had a “tough-to-terrible” holiday season, but insisted the company’s strategy was a model for other chains. “I believe the entire retail industry is headed to where we already are,” Lampert wrote in a Thursday letter to shareholders — a message that many might find chilling, given Sears’ increasingly disastrous results. Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ:SHLD) was slammed by a fourth-quarter loss of $358 million as revenue sank 14 percent, to $10.6 billion. The company narrowed the loss from $489 million a year earlier, but did so by selling off assets.

ESL INVESTMENTS

Investor Ackman to detail Herbalife’s China business on call (Reuters)
Billionaire investor William Ackman, who has long claimed Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) is a fraud, on Friday said he would provide proof next month that the nutrition and weight-loss company is running a pyramid scheme in China. Ackman launched his latest broadside against Herbalife on Friday morning in a short press release that promises details about his investigation into the company’s business in China. He will hold a conference call on March 11. “The report will show that Herbalife’s business in China operates much like the company’s business in the rest of the world – as a pyramid scheme,” the release said.

Hedge fund industry performance attracts institutional investors (HedgeWeek)
Low interest rates and unfunded pension fund liabilities are encouraging institutional investors to re-think their allocations to traditional assets like equities and bonds, and seek alternative sources of income and growth. BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK) analysis of the industry found the average (median) hedge fund generated alpha of 3.1 per cent against an index return of 9.1 per cent (HFRI Fund Weighted Composite Index) in 2013. Mark Woolley, Head of European and Asian Hedge Fund Research at BlackRock Alternative Advisors,says: “Hedge funds often get compared to standard equities benchmarks, but institutional investors don’t look at them this way.

$12 Million Fraud: Over 5 Years In Jail For Hedge Fund Manager (HedgeCo)
A NY hedge fund manager was sentenced to 5 and a half years in prison for defrauding investors in a $12 million scheme, Reuters reports this morning. Lloyd Barringer pled guilty in July 2013 to four counts of fraud: securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. The charges stem from his operation of the Gaffken & Barriger Fund LLC, which was based in Monticello, Sullivan County, New York. Barriger was the president of the hedge fund and the principal shareholder, director, and officer of G&B Partners, Inc., the fund’s managing member and sole common shareholder. He surrendered to the FBI in May 2011.

Schroders joins BlackRock by spending on data teams (eFinancialNews)
Schroders is hiring staff in house as well as buying in the expertise from specialist external IT businesses, while BlackRock has already developed its Scientific Active Equity team, a unit set up to enhance the business’ stock selection process and inform investment decisions. These teams are designed to interpret the vast amount of information now available digitally from social media, local and professional news sites, company announcements, conference call transcripts and regulatory filings. Technical staff then design algorithms to catalogue data into structured lists which can give a sentiment score to inform the investment review process.

Stream Capital Hires Structured Credit Specialist (Finalternatives)
Geneva-based Stream Capital has hired Fabrice Toledano as director covering structured credit. Toledano has been working in the banking and hedge fund industry for over 12 years in Paris, London and Geneva and was most recently in charge of global macro hedge funds investments at Unigestion in Geneva. Prior to that, he worked at structuring and trading credit and hedge fund-linked derivatives at Deutsche Bank AG (USA) (NYSE:DB) and Credit Agricole Indosuez in London. “As we are growing and acquiring more market share in the secondary alternative investment sphere, we are very pleased that Fabrice has joined our team,” says Stream Capital founder Robert JC Leach.

Watson Wheatley reports contract win (Finextra)
Watson Wheatley Financial Systems (WWFS), specialist reconciliation software providers, have announced another client win; a London based fixed-income hedge fund. The new project comes on the back of an extremely successful 2013 and WWFS winning Reconciliation & Data Aggregation Software Provider of the Year – UK at the 2014 International Hedge Fund Awards.

Men’s suit saga (CNBC)

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