Q. Who said with regards to Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) "May the best analyst win?"
If you said POST holdings Chairman and CEO Bill Stiritz you are correct.
Yesterday, Bill Ackman dominated the airwaves with two appearances. One on CNBC and one on Bloomberg TV. Mr. Ackman's PR skills are decidedly savvy. Herbalife's PR machine is sputtering along in the land of make believe.
Herbalife common now has somewhere south of 95 million shares outstanding taking into account buybacks, etc. Yesterday, 11 million shares traded hands. Mr. Icahn (owner of 17 million) did not sell a single share. This begs the question, who was hitting the bid? Or perhaps more importantly, who was buying this falling knife on the way down?
What we also learned yesterday is the following. Notwithstanding the barrage of ad hominem attacks hurtled his way over the past two years whether it be HLF or J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) or any other ticker symbol you care to mention, Mr. Ackman still has muchas gravitas as an investor. Close to $1 billion has been shaved from HLF's market cap just in the past week. Will the stock capitulate later this morning? Tune in at 9:15 am to find out.
Mr. Stiritz owns a number of shares of Herbalife at an average cost base closer to $80. Yesterday alone, Mr. Icahn's account swung by over $100 million to the downside. The timing of Mr. Ackman's presentation has its own calculus to it. Herbalife is in its quiet period right now which makes it difficult for the company or Mr. Icahn to respond to Mr. Ackman's presentation?
Whatever happens later this morning, the stage is set for more fireworks. Inevitably, investors both long and short will be watching with interest with their brokers on call.
As a going concern, HLF may generate north of $600 million in Free cash flow this year. The stock still has a market cap of over $5 billion even after yesterday's bloodbath. Simple math tell us that Mr. Market remains convinced that HLF will remain a going concern well into the future. That's the way DCF works.
Still, one has to wonder. How much would HLF trade for if Mr. Icahn didn't own so much of the shares or if the company hadn't engineered a highly reckless and seemingly heavily dilutive share buyback earlier this year? How many year's worth of cash flow would you pay for HLF right now? It strikes me that anything north of "1" is highly speculative.
This week, Herbalife distributors head for Washington to tell congress just how much they are "changing people's lives."
Later this morning, Mr. Ackman plans to reveal just how Herbalife changes people's lives. Interested parties of all shapes and sizes will be heading to Manhattan to watch the show live.
Pershing Square also revealed yesterday that they have invested $50 million so far in investigative work to expose the HLF fraud. The fruits of this investment are about to be revealed.
The stage is set, the lights are dimming, the orchestra is in tune...
Please make sure to turn off all cellular phones and electronic devices, unless, of course, you plan to hit the "Buy" or "Sell" button in the next few hours...
Disclosure: The author is short HLF. The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.