Hedge fund manager Jim Chanos said in a CNBC interview that the auto sector was a hands down chronic money loser. But the global capacity for autos, he said, had been increasing despite the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler. Chanos predicted the sector to linger with overcapacity problems and legacy costs. He said he was short Ford. That was on December 15th, 2009, and Ford was trading at $9.39.
Six months later on BloombergTV, Chanos said he was adding to those shorts. His prediction then was that Ford would struggle against the mighty United Auto Workers, the union which partly owns GM and Chrysler. He said 2012 was the contract negotiation year and that UAW would stand tough against Ford but favor GM and Chrysler. That was on June 17th, 2010, and Ford was trading at $11.63.
Three months later, Chanos repeated in a CNBC interview that he was still short Ford, again because it was in a sector riddled with overcapacity problems and because he still expected the UAW to cause problems in the months ahead. Ford management, on the other hand, wasn’t an issue. That was on September 21st, 2010, and Ford was trading at $12.55.
Today Ford is trading at $17 per share. Since December 15, 2009, Chanos lost 81% of his original investment. Since June 17th, he lost 46% of the money with which he was adding to his short positions. His losses were more than 35% since his last interview with CNBC. In the meantime, Ford is having its best year since 1998 in terms of profitability.
Insider Monkey, your source for free insider trading data, certainly likes Jim Chanos and Kynikos. He has one of the best track records as a short seller. It’s just fact of life that even the best fund managers may be wrong in their predictions or their timing.