Friday Addition Edition

It has been a hell of a week for IPO's. We saw Door Dash (DASH) flu and Airbnb followed the next day with its own very impressive first-day move.

If you got IPO shares, count your blessings, and take your profits. The valuation on both is insane. Airbnb may someday be worth the price, but Door Dash will never be worth almost $70 billion. I suspect that 2020 will turn out to be the peak of revenues for Door Dash as a vaccine allows the world to normalize my mid-year 2021.

While those were the headlines, don't overlook that Hydrofarm Holdings (HYFM) jumped 159% in its debut yesterday. On Wednesday, software company (AI) also saw shares more than double after its IPO closed.

According to Professor IPO Jay Ritter of the University of Florida, Airbnb was the 19th IPO to double on its first day this year. That's late 1990s action.

Don't forget SPACs. So far this year, we have seen 220 blank check companies go public. There were ten on Friday alone.

SPAC speculation so ramping up as well. I check in on the Redditt and Facebook SPAC groups, and I predict that epic amounts of money will be lost trading these things. No one has a clue what they are doing.

If you want to make money in SPACs, treat them as an arbitrage trade, not a growth opportunity.

They are not Pre-IPO shares that will grow your wealth to the sky. Most SPACs that have completed a deal are below the IPO price. There are a few well-publicized big gainers, but they are the exception, not the rule.

I have written about how to trade SPACs before. You can read it here.

Is it 1999 all over again?

I have no idea.

The vaccine news is bullish. It could lead to a recovery in the value of industries that were the heaviest hit, like airlines, office buildings, hotels, restaurants, and retail.

That would be great news for stocks in these sectors.

Unfortunately, it will take a least six months for the vaccine to have a positive impact and allow us to get closer to normal.

In the meantime, the coronavirus is running amuck with cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all on the rise. This could lead to more shutdowns that take the economy and potentially the stock market backward.

It doesn't help that Congress is doing its usual superb job of passing meaningful bipartisan legislation that helps all the people thrown out of work by the pandemic.

If they do not get cash in the hands of those that need it, it's horrible for the US economy. Unpaid rents lead to delinquent mortgages.

Unpaid mortgages lead to loan defaults or deferrals. That's horrible for banks and other lenders.

There are 18 million people collecting unemployment befits of one type or another right now. If we do not pass an extension of benefits, many of these folks will start missing car and credit card payments. They will have to stop spending money on anything but the very basic needs of life.

That slams the break on the economy and could lead to severe credit conditions in the banking and lending industries.

We call that a financial crisis.

Bill McBride of Calculated Risk reports that according to data and analytics firm Black Knight we are already seeing signs of that happening. Black Knight finds that "Despite the marginal weekly improvement, forbearance volumes are now up 21,000 month-over-month, marking the first monthly increase since the onset of the recovery in late May/early June."

By the way, if you want to stay up to date on the current economic situation with just facts and numbers rather than BS and pipe dreams, you really should be reading his blog at

Sending to someone else's website is the financial publishing equivalent of a Macys (M) salesperson telling you to shop at Gimbels, but the guy cuts through all the crap that's out there.

Last week we talked about two bank debt and preferred funds (FINS and BANX) that give access to usually unattainable markets to retail investors. One sharp reader reminded me that these funds own debt instruments, so dividends are not taxed at the lower rate. It is probably best to hold them in a retirement account.

Keith Gottfried, a Partner at the law firm of Morgan Lewis, recently wrote about the increase in closed-end fund activism in 2020. He found that "Shareholder activism at closed-end funds was up noticeably in 2020, with closed-end funds experiencing more activist campaigns and proxy contests than in any other year between 2008 and 2020."

He added, "The COVID-19-driven market dislocations that occurred in March 2020 resulted in a significant, though relatively short-lived, widening of the discounts between a closed-end fund's share trading price and its per-share NAV. This widening of the average NAV discount for US closed-end funds, which came close to the previous all-time record high set in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, created an attractive opportunity for activist investors to accumulate large positions in the closed-end funds most impacted by the market dislocations and, thereby, lay the groundwork for activism campaigns to pressure closed-end funds to pursue liquidity events like self-tender offers that would allow activist investors to monetize such NAV discounts."

Mr. Gottfried thinks the success CEF activists have had in 2020 may attract attention from some activists who ordinarily pay little attention to this marketplace.

This all makes me want to buy CEF activist targets and potential targets.

Fixed income funds are especially interesting since we know rates are not going higher anywhere in the world anytime soon.

Saba Capital filed another 13D on Templeton Global Income Fund (GIM) this week. Saba is now up to 10.03% ownership of the fund. The discount has begun to narrow but is still over 10%

40% of this fund is invested in US Government bonds or cash. The yield is only 3.2%, but Saba will pressure the board to narrow the discount further, giving us a double-digit total return possibility with a relatively low-risk profile.

Saba has scored wins against some big-name fund companies, including Neuberger Berman, Blackrock, and Nuveen. There is no reason to think they can't force Franklin Templeton's hand with this fund.

A tender at par would give us a total return of over 15%.

That's not too shabby for a portfolio of mostly shorter-term global government bonds and cash.

We remain moderately cautious with gust up to awfully damn risk-averse right now. If we can find banks, we love at prices we like we will be a buyer.

We are looking for ways to make equity-like returns from lower risk arbitrage situations and closed-end funds in these oh so interesting times. As we find them, we will bring them to you.

Posted to Banking on Profit on Dec 11, 2020 — 8:12 PM
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