Elon Musk’s Twitter Buyout Was A Billion Dollar Windfall For These 13 Hedge Funds

Illustration by Gracelynn Wan for Forbes; Photos by Rodolfo Glcksberg/EyeEmby/Getty Images; Imran Kadir/Getty Images

For many hedge funds, Elon Musk’s $44 billion “forced” purchase of Twitter represented an easy money trade.“You didn’t have to be a genius to realize that he was going to finish that deal,” said Carl Icahn at the Forbes Iconoclast Summit on November 3, adding that he would have considered waging a proxy fight if the deal fell through.

Icahn told the audience at New York’s Historical Society that he made a profit of around $250 million by investing in Twitter this summer. But he was far from the only one to benefit. Regulatory filings show that billionaire-led hedge funds including Citadel Advisors, Millennium Management, D.E. Shaw and Third Point built large positions in Twitter in the second and third quarters, as well as other firms like Pentwater Capital and Farallon Capital.

Musk signed a merger agreement to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share in April, but the stock was trading as low as $32.65 by July when he tried to terminate the deal. That created an arbitrage opportunity for as much as a 66% return for investors who doubted Musk had much of a chance in the Delaware Court of Chancery to back out.

Icahn’s third-quarter 13-F filing with the SEC shows that he owned 12.5 million Twitter shares as of September 30. He said at the Forbes summit he bought in the mid-$30s–if he bought at an average price of $35 per share and made a $19.20 profit on each one when the deal closed at the original price of $54.20 per share on October 28, he would have netted a $240 million profit.

The only fund that made a bigger bet than Icahn was Naples, Florida-based Pentwater Capital Management, founded by Matthew Halbower in 2007. It bought 18.1 million shares during the second quarter and added another 5.3 million shares as of the end of the third quarter.

If it bought those 24 million shares at Twitter stock’s median closing price of $40.16 in the first quarter and $41.05 in the second quarter and held them through the completion of the acquisition in October, it would have made $324 million in profit, though its 13-F filing shows it hedged some of those gains by buying put options as well. Pentwater didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In all, Forbes found 13 hedge funds that spent upwards of $100 million adding to their Twitter stakes between the end of the first quarter and the end of the third quarter this year. We reached out to each fund to ask for average purchase prices, and estimated that they bought at Twitter’s median closing price in each quarter if more precise information wasn’t available. These funds cumulatively purchased more than 10% of the company in the six months leading up to September 30 and likely made well over $1 billion in profits on the deal.

These numbers don’t include any additional shares the firms may have purchased in October, when the margins were slimmer while Musk finalized the acquisition, and don’t include possible trading that took place within each quarter. 13-F filings show a simple snapshot of each firm’s long stock holdings on the last day of each quarter and don’t provide enough information to pin down exact gains and losses, but often represent the most thorough picture of what funds are buying and selling.

The biggest winners included Hong Kong-based Segantii Capital Management, founded by British investor Simon Sadler, and Farallon Capital, the San Francisco-based firm founded by Thomas Steyer in 1986 and now run by Andrew Spokes.

David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital initiated a position of 4.3 million shares in the third quarter, his 13-F filing shows, and he wrote in a letter to investors viewed by Forbes that the average purchase price was $37.24 per share. He expected that the Delaware Court of Chancery would be wary of inviting future buyer’s remorse suits if it let Musk walk away.

“The case law on this is quite clear. If it were anyone other than Musk, we would handicap the odds of the buyer wiggling out of the deal to be much less than 5%,” Einhorn wrote in the letter prior to the completion of the deal. “At this price there is $17 per share of upside if TWTR prevails in court and we believe about $17 per share of downside, if the deal breaks. So, we are getting 50-50 odds on something that should happen 95%+ of the time.”

Musk saw the writing on the wall and reversed course in October, agreeing to pay the full price as these investors expected. His first weeks as Twitter’s owner have been marked by confusion and complaints after he opened verification to anyone willing to pay $8 per month, causing a wave of “verified” parody accounts, and laid off 3,700 employees, almost half of its staff. He has warned Twitter’s staff that “bankruptcy is not out of the question,” but if his $44 billion equity investment goes up in smoke, the hedge funds he paid that cash to will be laughing all the way to the bank.

I’m a reporter on Forbes’ money team covering investing trends and Wall Street’s difference-makers. I’ve reported on the world’s billionaires for Forbes’ wealth team

Source: Elon Musk’s Twitter Buyout Was A Billion Dollar Windfall For These 13 Hedge Funds

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Why Investors Are Reaching For The Astrology of Finance

Why did the markets move? Most investors, analysts and even financial journalists will look, first and foremost, for news. Perhaps the jobs data were published, a firm announced it was being acquired or a central banker gave a sombre speech. Yet a small, dedicated cult of “chartists” or “technical analysts” believes that the movement of stocks, bonds and currencies can be divined by the making and interpreting of charts.

Their methods are many, varied and wackily named. A “death cross” is when a short-term moving average of an asset’s price falls below a long-term moving average. “Fibonacci retracement levels” rely on the idea that an asset climbing in price will fall back before rising again. Such backsliding is supposed to stop at levels based on Fibonacci numbers, like a 61.8% drop. The “ichimoku cloud”, loved by Japanese traders, sees the construction of a cloud by—bear with this—shading the area between two averages of high and low prices over the past week, month or two months.

A price above the cloud is auspicious; one below it is ominous. A true chartist needs only such information and “does not even care to know what business or industry a company is in, as long as he or she can study its chart”, as Burton Malkiel, an economist at Princeton and author of “A Random Walk Down Wall Street”, has noted.

These methods, though patently mad, have attracted attention lately because of how the s&p 500, the leading index of American stocks, has wiggled around. After slumping to a low of 3,637 on June 17th the index began to climb. On August 16th it peaked at an intraday high of around 4,325, a whisker away from its 200-day moving average of 4,326—a supposedly critical technical level.

An asset that has fallen in price but is rising is supposed to meet “resistance” at such levels. To chartists it is concerning when an asset fails to “break through” a resistance barrier—it is an indication of a bear-market rally, rather than a true bull market. And so, this time, it appears to have been: stocks have slumped by around 8% since August 16th.

Plenty of mainstream investors use some version of trend-following. Factor investing, invented by Eugene Fama, the Nobel prize-winning economist, and Kenneth French, is used by successful quantitative funds, like aqr Capital Management. It breaks down returns into component factors like “size” (small companies earn better returns than bigger ones) or “quality” (low-debt, stable businesses earn better returns than riskier ones).

Another such factor is momentum: stocks that are rising tend to keep rising. Still, their approach is a little more sophisticated than looking at a price chart. aqr’s algorithms tend to combine factors like momentum with others. They might buy, say, a small or high-quality firm whose share price has recently risen.

It is nevertheless possible to understand the chartists’ obsession with levels and trends. There is no real difference between a euro being worth $1.0001 or $0.9999, but these “big figures” in foreign-exchange markets assume importance. This is in part symbolic and in part practical: clients tend to place orders near round numbers and derivatives tend to be sold with round “strike prices”. That means it will take a lot more activity for the euro to fall from $1.0001 to $0.9999 than for it to fall from $1.0487 to $1.0485.

When placing orders, investors try to figure out where others are placing theirs. That can help them place a stop-loss order, to close a trade that moves against them, at a sensible level. If enough investors look at technical levels to inform their behaviour, then they begin to matter. Perhaps the real value of technical analysis is what its use tells you about market conditions.

No one bothers with the chartists’ pretty drawings when the economy is good, profits are high and stocks are moving smoothly higher—nor, indeed, in the depths of a frantic bear market, when prices will plunge through any and all levels technical analysts are wont to draw. Much as people who are feeling restless about the direction of their lives are more prone to become interested in astrology, investors who are uneasy about the direction of the markets will reach for the easy reassurance of an eye-catching diagram.

That some are laying the blame for the end of the summer rally on a technical tripwire suggests they have little idea what is really going on. Perhaps Buttonwood should derive a technical indicator of her own: the more regularly chartist analysis lands in her inbox, the clearer it is that no one has any clue as to why the markets are moving.

Correction (September 2nd 2022): An earlier version of this article said Eugene Fama and Kenneth French won the Nobel prize for their work on factor investing. They did not. Mr Fama won a Nobel prize for his work on the efficient-markets hypothesis. Mr French is yet to win a Nobel. Sorry.

Source: Why investors are reaching for the astrology of finance | The Economist

Critics:

Is it really that simple? I’ll fully admit that most of my understanding of the stock market is based on intuition and reading books with flashy titles. In other words, I’m far above the moving charalatan average in most aspects of my life, and you also sound like you might actually know what you’re talking about based on how definitive your answer is. If you also, for example, back-test a moving average strategy it usually ends up terrible I’ve noticed–either making almost no money or losing money.

Yet, I really like watching the stock market. It’s my favorite hobby in fact. It certainly feels like a death cross is going to be a bad time when it happens, but maybe the truth is more complicated then the cryptic silly lines I gain so much joy from.

You might already know this, but the stock market death-crossed around January and then it went down for a long time after that. But it also doesn’t always go down so dramatically every time there is a death cross. I’m not keeping accurate tallies on the whole thing, but it seems like it’s often bad when those two lines cross and often good when they cross in the opposite direction–the so-called “golden cross”.

I did actually put a little money on a stock because it golden-crossed recently and it went way up today, which was pretty exciting news. And I’m also avoiding a lot of stocks because they are about to death-crossed or just have recently on the weekly charts, but you know, I can also understand how the language I’m using might be mistaken for a seance organized by a bunch of teenagers dressed like vampires.

Mostly I listen to smart people like Warran Buffet and buy value stocks with good p/e, price-to-book, lots of equity, less debt, good earnings etc. It would be silly not to listen to the richest man in the world about what kind stocks to buy. Yet, it still feels like there’s something else there, even if my little hobby is about as realistic as playing a round of magic the gathering. It’s, you know, my little hour of make believe, that I put some money into in order to escape my otherwise mundane and factual existence.

Related News:

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Settlements With China-Russia Plans Next Step For Digital Ruble

Russia intends to use its digital ruble, to be introduced early next year, for payments with its key ally, China. Authorities in Moscow hope other nations will be willing to adopt the Russian digital currency in trade, which will allow the country to circumvent sanctions imposed over the Ukraine war.

The Central Bank of Russia is gearing up to launch settlements with the digital ruble, the new incarnation of the Russian fiat currency that’s now being tested, as early as 2023. According to a statement by a prominent member of the lower house of Russian parliament, the sanctioned nation wants to use it in payments with China, which has become Russia’s main trading partner.

Limited access to the global financial system due to financial restrictions introduced in response to its military invasion of Ukraine is forcing Russia to seek alternative means for foreign trade transactions. Alongside cryptocurrencies, the digital ruble is one of the options Moscow is considering in its efforts to bypass the sanctions.

“The topic of digital financial assets, the digital ruble and cryptocurrencies is currently intensifying in the society, as Western countries are imposing sanctions and creating problems for bank transfers, including in international settlements,” the head of the Financial Market Committee at the State Duma, Anatoly Aksakov, recently told the Parlamentskaya Gazeta newspaper.

The high-ranking lawmaker elaborated that the digital direction is key because financial flows can circumvent systems controlled by unfriendly nations. He added the next step for the central bank digital currency (CBDC) issued by the Bank of Russia would be to introduce it in mutual settlements with China. Also quoted by Reuters, Aksakov emphasized:

If we launch this, then other countries will begin to actively use it going forward, and America’s control over the global financial system will effectively end.

With the loss of markets in the West, including for energy exports, the importance of cooperation with China has increased significantly for Russia. Trade between the two countries has expanded and Russian companies have started issuing debt in Chinese yuan. Beijing is currently conducting domestic trials of its digital version, the e-CNY, and plans to use it in cross-border settlements, too.

Russia is preparing to adopt comprehensive regulations for its crypto market in the coming months, including a new bill “On Digital Currency” that will expand the legal framework established last year by the law “on Digital Financial Assets.” Russian regulators are already developing a mechanism for international crypto payments and the respective draft provisions have been already agreed upon by the central bank and the finance ministry.

By: Lubomir Tassev

Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.

Source: Settlements With China — Russia Plans Next Step for Digital Ruble – Finance Bitcoin News

Critics by cbdctracker

The Bank of Russia has announced plans to connect all Russian banks to the digital ruble in 2024, as it fast-tracks plans to circumvent sanctions. Cross-border integration with the digital yuan and the central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) of other “friendly” countries” will remove the need for Swift, a central bank official said. As well as “gradually connecting all credit organisations”, the Bank of Russia will increase the number of “payment options and transactions using smart

The Central Bank of Russia emphasized that the pilot project aims to better understand the regulatory, legal, and technical aspects of CBDCs, and plans to launch an official digital ruble within a few years. Russia’s central bank’s latest monetary policy said the country plans to connect the digital ruble platform to all banks and credit institutions by 2024.

In March 2024, a new round of elections will be held on whether the current Russian President Vladimir Putin will be re-elected. By then, the digital ruble is expected to have completed customer-to-customer transaction trials and customer-to-business and business-to-customer settlements.

To facilitate the rollout of the digital ruble, the Bank of Russia will also conduct a beta test of the digital ruble-based smart contract with a limited number of participants in 2023. At the same time, it is expected that in 2025, the offline mode of the digital ruble will be completed. The Bank of Russia noted that the Russian economy is increasingly digitized, thus requiring an advanced payment system based on a government-backed digital currency.

VTB Factoring, a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned bank, reported the first major deal with digital finance assets. As part of the deal, the bank subsidiary acquired a tokenized debt pool of the engineering company Metrowagonmash, issued via the fintech platform Lighthouse. On Wednesday, June 29, VTB reported the deal on its webpage, claiming it to be the first issuance and placement of digital financial assets secured by cash in the Russian Federation. In the announcement, the bank compares it with the issue of short-term commercial bonds.

n June 2022, the largest Russian bank Sber announced its first operation with the digital financial assets (DFA) to take place in mid-July, after finally obtaining a license from the country’s central bank. While current legislation on the DFA was put in force in 2020, the head of the Financial Markets Committee of the Russian parliament’s lower chamber introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of DFA as a “monetary surrogate” in June 2022.

In February 2022, VTB conducted the first successful testing of the operation with “digital rubles,” a central bank digital currency (CBDC) project of the Bank of Russia. Later, the bank announced its first purchase of DFAs in exchange for the digital ruble. At press time, there is no information on whether the aforementioned deal was made via CBDC. 

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China Manufacturing Begins To Rebound as COVID-19 Restrictions Ease

Manufacturing in China started to improve in May after the country lifted coronavirus lockdowns that shut down China’s richest and most populous city of Shanghai, as well as other industrial areas, according to an official survey released Tuesday.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index of the National Bureau of Statistics of China’s manufacturing industry jumped from 47.4% in April to 49.6% this month on a 100-point scale. Numbers below 50 reveal activity contracting.

New orders, exports and employment all improved during the month of May. More businesses in Shanghai are allowed to reopen this week after COVID-19 outbreaks were considered by the government as under control.Other industrial centers like Shenzhen and Changchun were also forced to shut down this spring due to the coronavirus, which disrupted the cities’ manufacturing and trade.

Tuesday’s data shows that “activity has started to rebound as containment measures were rolled back,” Capital Economics’ Sheana Yue said in a report, adding that the recovery “is likely to remain tepid amid weak external demand and labor market strains.”

More businesses in Shanghai, China’s most populous city, are being allowed to reopen this week after outbreaks were deemed to be under control. Other industrial centers including Shenzhen in the south and Changchun in the northeast also were temporarily shut down, disrupting manufacturing and trade.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is zeroing in on the ties that China’s state banks and other financial stalwarts have developed with big private-sector players, expanding his push to curb capitalist forces in the economy.

Source: China manufacturing begins to rebound as COVID-19 restrictions ease | Fox Business

In April, China’s industrial groups posted their biggest profit decline in two years, the latest sign of economic and corporate woes caused by a wave of coronavirus lockdowns. Industrial profits fell 8.5% in April from the same period a year earlier, the biggest drop since March 2020, when China was also engulfed in restrictions to deal with the initial outbreak of the virus.

The cutbacks are increasing pressure on the government, which is pushing to maintain its zero-Covid policy to eliminate infections through mass testing, lockdowns and quarantines. The strategy is a priority for President Xi Jinping this year as he seeks an unprecedented third term in office, but its rising economic costs pose a serious threat to the country’s 5.5% growth goal by 2022.

Official data last week showed a drop in overall activity in April at a time when Shanghai, China’s financial center, was closed and residents were chained to their homes. Retail sales, an important indicator of consumption, fell 11%, while industrial production also fell. Unemployment hit 6.1 percent, the highest level in two years. The lockdowns are estimated to have affected dozens of cities and hundreds of millions of people. Restrictions are also being put in place in Beijing, which reports dozens of cases daily.

The latest outbreak in China was centered mainly in Shanghai, where about 63,000 infections have been reported and where many residents are still staying at home. Officials stressed the need for a rapid citywide response to the highly contagious Omicron variant. Zhu Hong, senior statistician at the National Bureau of Statistics, said the outbreak “had a big impact on the production and operation of industrial enterprises” in April, adding that profits fell by 22% for manufacturing companies in particular.

The authorities, which had already eased monetary policy in response to last year’s real estate liquidity crunch, have taken other steps to support the economy. Last week, China’s mortgage lending rate was cut for the second time this year. Analysts at Goldman Sachs pointed to the impact of “high raw material costs” on industrial profits, in addition to supply chain disruptions caused by Covid lockdowns at manufacturing centers.

“We expect further policy easing on the fiscal front to stimulate demand, given the downward pressure on growth and the uncertainty of the pace of recovery from the Covid disruption,” they said.

After Meltdown, Tech-Bottom Signals Have Yet to Scream ‘Buy Now’

Calling the bottom in the tech-sector meltdown isn’t easy, even after a $5.5 trillion wipe-out, yet there are some signals giving investors hope.

Tech stocks have been hammered this year as rising interest rates, slowing economic growth and soaring inflation form a perfect storm of negative catalysts. That’s hurt everyone from retail investors who loaded up on Cathie Wood’s Ark Investment exchange-traded funds last year to deep-pocketed asset managers who invested in Apple Inc.

The price charts paint a dire picture: The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index just capped its seventh straight week of declines, the longest such streak since 2011, and has shed nearly 30% from its peak last year. The U.S. trillion-dollar quartet of Apple, Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc. has led the charge lower in the latest leg of this selloff.

Yet a number of investors are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. The Nasdaq 100 now trades for about 20 times its estimated forward earnings — in-line with long-term averages — as frothy valuations built up during the pandemic recede. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index, home to chipmakers including Intel Corp. and ASML Holding NV, trades at about 15 times expected earnings for the next 12 months, well below a peak of 24 hit in early 2021.

“It’s hard to be patient when there’s been so much carnage. But the pain should end, possibly soon,” said Jordan Stuart, client portfolio manager at Federated Hermes. “Our recommendation is growth investors need to be ready.”

Last week, Jefferies strategists turned bullish on the information-technology sector, saying in a note that a “dash for cash” by investors discounting extreme interest-rate scenarios “has been more than reflected in the compression of market multiples.”

Source: After Meltdown, Tech-Bottom Signals Have Yet to Scream ‘Buy Now’

The stock market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index SPX, +0.01%, got off to a rocky start this week. But that produced enough of an oversold condition that buyers stepped in and have taken the benchmark index all the way back to the top of its trading range, at 4700 points.

The lower end of the trading range is 4500 (see the accompanying chart, below), although there is also support at this week’s lows, 4530. SPX has tried many times to break out over 4705 and hold those gains but has been unable to do so. But market internals have improved somewhat, so maybe this time it will do so.

The extreme volatility that has been on display within the trading range has pushed the 20-day historical volatility (HV20) of SPX up to a historically large 21%. That is a sell signal in itself. Only if that volatility begins to retreat (falls below 15%, say), will this sell signal be terminated.

Equity-only put-call ratios have continued to rise — until yesterday (December 22nd), when they plateaued a bit. However, our computer analysis programs are still “saying” that these ratios are on a sell signal. Obviously, they are quite high on their charts, meaning they are oversold.

So a potential buy signal exists, but we need to see them begin to trend lower (and for the computer analysis programs to agree) before we can say that they are on buy signals.

Market breadth was abysmal when the market was going down. But it has recovered strongly with the rally since Monday, and now both breadth oscillators are on buy signals. We had a contingent bull spread recommendation in place and those contingencies have been fulfilled.

These oscillators had reached extreme oversold conditions in late November and early December — extremes not seen since the pandemic selling of March 2020. That sets the stage for a strong buy signal, and it is usually the second such one that is the “true” buy signal. This current signal is that second one, so this is promising for the bulls. For the record, the cumulative breadth indicators are nowhere near their old highs.

New 52-week lows have continued to outnumber new 52-week highs, even with the market rallying back this week. This situation could reverse in the coming week, but so far it has not. That means this indicator is still clinging to a sell signal. In a broad sense, it is not a constructive thing for SPX to be right at its highs, yet there are more stocks making new 52-week lows than making new 52-week highs.

The implied volatility indicators are mostly bullish, but not totally. First, the VIX “spike peak” buy signal remains in effect. Action was wild in VIX, though, as it exploded to above 27, then closed below 23 on one day (Monday, December 20th).

It is the trend of VIX that represents something of a problem. That is, VIX has continued to close above its 200-day moving average, which is just below 19 and going sideways. VIX has nearly fallen to that level for the first time in a month (note the box on the accompanying VIX chart). A clear close below that 200-day MA will be another bullish sign for stocks.

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