Morning Brief: Not-So-Failing New York Times Got Trump Bump

February 09, 2018   Stephen Taub

The paper that President Trump loves to hate has enjoyed a surge in business since his campaign and election win.

Thank you, Donald. This is what The New York Times and its shareholders are saying these days, especially after its stock jumped more than 10 percent on Thursday, to close at $24.38, after the owner of the iconic Gray Lady announced that subscription revenue now exceeds $1 billion and accounts for 60 percent of total revenue of $1.7 billion. The company has enjoyed a surge in business since the presidential campaign and election of Donald Trump, who has a love-hate relationship with The New York Times. He regularly calls it "failing" but then has agreed to on-the-record — and some suspect off-the-record — interviews. The stock, meanwhile, has more than doubled since October 1, 2016. This is good news for several hedge fund managers, including Anand Desai’s Darsana Capital Partners, the fourth-largest shareholder. The stock is also the largest U.S. long of JHL Capital Group.

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Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Holdings fell into another hole. The activist firm’s public fund lost 5.6 percent in the first four trading days of February, through February 6. It was flat in January. Through Thursday, shares of Restaurant Brands International, Pershing Square Capital Management’s largest long holding, were down more than 7 percent. ADP, the second-largest long, is down nearly 7 percent for the year, while Chipotle Mexican Grill is down nearly 8 percent for the year.

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January may very well go down as the euphoria before the collapse…or volatility surge. The HFRI Fund Weighted Composite Index gained 2.8 percent last month, the best monthly performance since December 2010, according to HFR. It was also the best January since 2006. As a result, the HFR index has now posted gains for 15 consecutive months.

January performance was led by macro strategies. The HFRI Macro (Total) Index rose 3.7 percent, its best monthly gain since February 2008. Quantitative, trend-following CTA strategies also performed very well, led by the HFRI Macro: Systematic Diversified Index, which surged 4.8 percent, the strongest return since October 2008. The HFRI Macro: Discretionary Thematic Index returned 3.6 percent, while the HFR Macro: Multi-Strategy Index gained 3.4 percent. The HFRI Equity Hedge (Total) Index advancing was up 3 percent, led by technology and emerging markets, according to HFR.

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Short-selling favorite Tesla Motors Thursday fell 8.6 percent, to close at $315.23, following its earnings release the previous day. Although investors had initially reacted positively, Wall Street was less impressed. Several investment banks repeated their sell recommendations Thursday and retained price targets that are well below the current stock price. A cynical Barclays said in a note Thursday that while it reiterated its $210 price target and underweight rating, "we are not holding our breath for a deserved pullback." Well, for one day, there was a pullback.


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