Activist Insight Online is reporting live from the Sohn Foundation’s 24th annual conference in New York City. Check back throughout the day for the latest investment ideas.
Larry Robbins of Glenview Capital Management revealed a short position in conglomerate 3M, noting that the firm owes billions of dollars in liabilities following a lawsuit that linked the firm’s chemicals to cancer.
Robbins also said his firm placed a bet against various healthcare companies like Humana and UnitedHealth, noting the political risk surrounding the healthcare industry due to Democratic hopes of installing a “Medicare for all” or single-payer healthcare system. Robbins contended that the program, which is designed to eliminate all private insurance companies, will make healthcare less accessible to many Americans and cut premiums for drugmakers.
Firefly Value Partners’ Ryan Heslop disclosed his firm’s bet against Community Health Systems, contending the firm will file for bankruptcy in the next few years due to an ineffective rollup.
Heslop explained that Community Health was involved in an acquisition binge between 2005 and 2014 when the firm bought 30 acquisitions with its aggressive roll-up strategy. The investor said the M&A strategy may have been a success, but he is “almost certain that the patient will die.”
Since completing its M&A strategy, Community Health has retained a large amount of debt. In addition, admissions at Community Health’s hospitals have declined because patients are choosing to go to urban hospitals instead of rural hospitals and because the industry has shifted from primarily inpatient care to outpatient care.
As such, Community Health has opted to sell many of its hospitals, but only at a fraction of what it paid during the acquisition binge. Heslop said Community Health paid about $600,000 per bed but only received about $250,000 per bed. “Buying high and selling low just doesn’t work,” he argued.
Moreover, Heslop claimed that Community Health “gouges” its out-of-network and uninsured patients to increase revenues.
“As profits decline, the company needs a way to bring cash in the door. I suppose this way qualifies,” he said.
Heslop said he believes Community Health will be “worthless” after it is forced to file for bankruptcy in the next few years.
Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn disclosed his hedge fund’s investment in aircraft leasing company AerCap and its short position in railcar leasing firm GATX at the Sohn Foundation’s annual conference in New York City.
Einhorn noted that global air traffic has had consistent growth for decades and expects it to continue doubling every 15 years. Meanwhile, railcar growth is more cyclical, he said. There has been an average 4% annual growth rate for airplanes, compared to just a 1% annual growth rate for railcars.
Moreover, airplane leasing has a lower risk than railcar leasing, Einhorn contended. While AerCap and GATX have similar balance sheets and funding costs, fundamental differences compel Greenlight to invest in AerCap and place a bet against GATX. Specifically, Einhorn said AerCap has more visibility, while GATX has “trouble returning to pre-crisis usage levels.”
Furthermore, AerCap shares are trading at half the book value and less than half the price-to-earnings of GATX’s shares, Einhorn said.
“Don’t get derailed,” Einhorn concluded. “Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.”
Impactive Capital’s Lauren Taylor Wolfe pitched hospitality group Wyndham Hotels & Resorts at the Sohn Foundation’s annual conference from New York City’s Lincoln Center.
“We believe Wyndham is a valuable strategic asset,” Wolfe told the audience, noting that the firm has stronger downside protection and EBITDA-growth potential than peers.
Nonetheless, Wyndham trades at a three-time discount to peers, making it the perfect target for the activist fund, which believes Wyndham has a 50% upside over the next few years.
“This gap is… extreme and it will close soon,” Wolfe predicted.
Impactive suggested Wyndham accelerate growth targets, buy new brands, take in master franchisees, and consolidate with industry peers.
As a fund focused on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns, Impactive also said Wyndham should offer energy efficiency packages to its franchisees, claiming offerings like LED lighting could reduce costs for the firm. Impactive also suggested Wyndham mandate a green program that will encourage environmentally-friendly practices with its customers, thereby increasing its loyalty engagement program and cost savings.
Impactive noted that the more attractive Wyndham is to its franchisees, the more franchisees will want to join the Wyndham platform.
“At Impactive we focus on good businesses and think of turning those businesses from good to great,” Wolfe said.